BUCCANEERS Rugby Football Club had more good news to celebrate this week when ROBBIE HENSHAW was named in the British & Irish Lions squad to take on world champions New Zealand next June and July. With the club having just been presented with their Ulster Bank League Division 1B trophy last weekend, the celebrations moved on to another level when the young Athlonian was selected by Warren Gatland for the forthcoming tour to the land of the long white cloud.
Robbie’s selection confirms his spectacular rise from captaining the Marist College to a rare Connacht Schools Senior Cup final success just five years ago. A year before that in 2011, Buccaneers triumphed in the All-Ireland U-19 Cup final when he was a very youthful full-back for the Pirates. He was snapped up by Connacht and rapidly progressed to their Senior squad, being named their player of the year in his debut campaign, and culminating in that memorable first ever trophy win by the western province when they defeated Leinster in a memorable Guinness PRO12 decider last season. Henshaw, who has since moved smoothly to Leinster, has also been capped by Ireland U-20’s and the Wolfhounds.
He made his Ireland Senior debut against USA in 2013 whilst still a teenager and has quickly acquired 29 caps including appearances in the Rugby World Cup finals. He has scored two international tries, both in memorable and key victories. His first came against England at the Aviva Stadium (it was voted RBS Six Nations try of the year) and he then touched down at the Soldiers Field, Chicago, in that historic first ever win by Ireland over the All Blacks.
Henshaw has won the ‘IRUPA Nevin Spence Young Player of the Year’ award an incredible three times and was twice named ‘Westmeath Independent Sportstar of the Year’. Robbie was also honoured as ‘Connacht Rugby Players Player of the Year’. He was accoladed as an honorary life of Buccaneers RFC last year. He was also an accomplished Gaelic footballer and soccer player and is a polished musician too.
His family have a long association with rugby in Athlone. His father Tony and uncle David were formidable front row players with the latter winning an All-Ireland League Division One title during a season with Garryowen. Cousins Billy Henshaw, David Henshaw Jnr and Conor FitzGibbon are among other family members to have played with Athlone and/or Buccs.