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Ray McLoughlin - Connacht Rugby Legend

Connacht Rugby

By Sea_Point
March 25 2006

First in a series, we take a look back at one of Connacht's and indeed Ireland's legendary players from the past. The multifaceted, indomitable Connacht, Ireland & British Lion prop Raymond John McLoughlin who was born on the 24th August 1939 in Ballinasloe, County Galway.


During his successful playing career Ray was a proud member of the Connacht Rugby provincial team at a time when the Interpro's were effectively Ireland trial matches. McLoughlin though not the first nor last "thinking prop", he set immense standards as a player, captain, and tactician, for his beloved Ireland for whom he won 40 caps between 1962 and 1975. Ray captained Ireland on seven occasions, and during his time with Ireland set about introducing structured training sessions to the Gentleman Amateur Rugby players in the squad which was quite revolutionary in the game at the time.


He was also a British Lion on the 1966 tour to Australia and New Zealand, unfortunately his tour was cut short through injury but not before he had participated in three Test matches ( 2 v Australia and 1 v New Zealand, winning two of the tests) and also 14 provincial fixtures. Ray also toured with the legendary ’71 Lions led by renowned coach Carwyn James to New Zealand however he was injured in a famously robust match against Canterbury where he broke his thumb which effectively forced him to return home.


Well regarded as a player and forward thinker, his team mate England & Lions hooker and captain John Dawes recounts from the '71 tour:


There was a palpable sense of loss when prop Ray McLoughlin was invalided out of the tour after being dealt to in the Canterbury game. McLoughlin was sorely missed says Dawes. "Ray was the wisehead, the intelligentsia of forward play.  He and Carwyn would spend hours together, Carwyn trying to learn from Ray the intricacies of forward play. I shared a room with Ray on a couple of occasions and Carwyn asked him what it was like to share his ideas with me. Ray replied: "I don’t know. Once I start talking about these things he goes to sleep!"  Barry John says his plea to the Lions forwards was simple: "Just give us the ball and we’ll use it. I used to tell Ray, "I don’t care how you forwards get the ball, it’s got nothing to do with me. How you do it is up to you…’ and I remember Ray asking John (Dawes) ‘how many moves have you backs got?’  "John said" ‘We’ve got 85 moves for our best games’. "Oh? Good God!" Mc’Loughlin replied, very impressed. "Yes, we’ve got one and Barry’s got the rest – though he doesn’t always know in advance what they will be!" 

Ray was also a member of the Barbarians side in which Gareth Edwards famously scored “That Try” against the 1973 All Blacks at the Arms Park in Cardiff.


His playing abilities were unquestioned, but much of his coaching ideas, planning and strategic approaches were not fully recognised until much later.



A successful businessman, from 1973 Ray was chief executive of industrial holdings group James Crean and is currently chairman of printing group Oakhill.  

He sold James Crean for $78 million (he paid €12.2 million in 2001). 

Previously he was head of the planning and policy division of the Industrial Development Authority of Ireland and was subsequently a Non-executive Director of Allied Irish Banks plc, the Custom Docks Development Authority, The National Board of Science & Technology and a number of other companies and organisations



Raymond John McLoughlin

BORN: Thursday, 24th August 1939.

PLACE OF BIRTH: Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland. 


School: Garbally College, Ballinasloe

CLUBS Gosforth RFC, London Irish RFC Blackrock College RFC and University College Dublin RFC.

PROVINCE: Connacht

British & Irish Lions  & The Barbarians RFC  

Saturday, 10th February 1962 v England (Twickenham) lost 16-0 (FN)(Aged: 22) 

Saturday 15th March 1975 v Wales (Cardiff) lost 32-4 (FN) 


Irish Caps 1962-75: 
v England (Twickenham) L 16-0 (FN), 1962 v Scotland (Dublin) L 20-6 (FN), 1962 v France (Paris) L 11-0 (FN).
1963 v England (Dublin) D 0-0 (FN), 1963 v Scotland (Murrayfield) L 3-0 (FN), 1963 v Wales (Cardiff) W 14-6 (FN), 1963 v New Zealand (Dublin) L 6-5 (FN).
1964 v England (Twickenham) W 18-5 (FN), 1964 v Scotland (Dublin) L 6-3 (FN).
1965 v France (Dublin) D 3-3 (FN), 1965 v England (Dublin) W 5-0 (FN), 1965 v Scotland (Murrayfield) W 16-6 (FN), 1965 v Wales (Cardiff) L 14-8 (FN), 1965 v South Africa (Dublin) W 9-6.
1966 v France (Paris) L 11-6 (FN), 1966 v England (Twickenham) D 6-6 (FN), 1966 v Scotland (Dublin) L 11-3 (FN), 1966 v Wales (Dublin) W 9-6 (FN).
1971 v France (Dublin) D 9-9 (FN), 1971 v England (Dublin) L 9-6 (FN), 1971 v Scotland (Murrayfield) W 17-5 (FN), 1971 v Wales (Cardiff) L 23-9 (FN),
1972 v France (Paris) W 14-9 (FN), 1972 v England (Twickenham) W 16-12 (FN), 1972 v France (Dublin) W 24-14.
1973 v New Zealand (Dublin) D 10-10, 1973 v England (Dublin) W 18-9 (FN), 1973 v Scotland (Murrayfield) L 19-14 (FN), 1973 v Wales (Cardiff) L 16-12 (FN), 1973 v France (Dublin) W 6-4 (FN).
1974 v France (Paris) L 9-6 (FN), 1974 v Wales (Dublin) D 9-9 (FN), 1974 v England (Twickenham) W 26-21 (FN), 1974 v Scotland (Dublin) W 9-6 (FN), 1974 v Presidents VX (Dublin) D 18-18, 1974 v New Zealand (Dublin) L 15-6.
1975 v England (Dublin) W 12-9 (FN), 1975 v Scotland (Murrayfield) L 20-13 (FN), 1975 v France (Dublin) W 25-6 (FN), 1975 v Wales (Cardiff) L 32-4 (FN).

Career Record: P40, W16, D7, L17
Test Points: 4
Tries: 1

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