Rugby

How Jacob Stockdale Is Helping To Heal His Hometown Of Lurgan

How Jacob Stockdale Is Helping To Heal His Hometown Of Lurgan

Jacob Stockdale's work in the community is helping to heal his hometown of Lurgan, one whose past was plagued by sectarian violence.

The Ireland winger's father Graham works as the coordinating chaplain for the high-security Maghaberry Prison. He was approached to see if his son would be interested in becoming involved in a scheme to encourage prisoner confidence and well-being.

"My visit into the prison made me appreciate that the guys in there are just normal guys who have made a mistake somewhere down the line and are now correcting their lives," Stockdale said in a piece for ITV broadcast prior to his side's Guinness Six Nations game against Italy.

"There is still a divide [in the town]," said Lurgan RFC's Raymond Acheson.

Some parts of Lurgan are in the top ten most socially deprived areas in the country.

Two weeks ago he went into four local schools. He's been responsible for enrolling 200 of those kids for our Peace IV programme.

"It's really the only professional sport where there's a team for all of Ireland," said Stockdale.

"In every other sport you have to choose one or the other - with rugby, you don't. People look at that and realise it's not a sport just for one side of the community. I think that's massively important."

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In the ITV studio, Brian O'Driscoll hailed the impact Stockdale is having on and off the pitch.

"What's most impressive from that piece is his understanding and social conscience, remembering where he's come from," said O'Driscoll.

"They've had some very difficult times. I did a documentary up there last summer and there's still a divide.

"Players with big profiles at a very young age like that have the ability to impact and bring that social consciousness to the people."

Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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PJ Browne
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