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Ulster Rugby Athletic Performance Conference Sponsored by BLK BOX

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‘Building High-Performance Programmes’

Inviting leaders, coaches, managers and practitioners from the world of sport and business.

Join the Athletic Performance Team at Ulster Rugby and the guest speakers to gain different perspectives in how to piece together the different components which support and drive a high-performance culture amongst staff and players. Presentations will be followed with interactive discussions amongst delegates and presenters to tackle the challenges we face in operating as a high-performance team with the day culminating in a panel discussion to answer specific questions from the audience.

  • When: Monday 9 March 2020
  • Where: A&L Goodbody Lounge, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, BT6 0FT


Ian McKeown
Position: Head of High Performance, Port Adelaide FC
Presentation Title: Piecing together the High-Performance Puzzle

Currently the Head of High Performance at Port Adelaide FC where he leads an impressive group of sports medicine, sports science and strength and conditioning professionals, Ian is now heading into his eighth season within AFL at Port Adelaide following on from his previous role at Port as Head of Athletic Development. Originally from Northern Ireland where he worked as a strength and conditioning coach for the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland, Ian headed to Australia in 2009 to coach at the Australian Institute of Sport and to complete his PhD. His areas of interest in research include the assessment of athletic development and movement ability and epitomise Ian’s passion for coaching and ensuring the rigour of performance science is utilised within daily practices to improve athleticism and on-field performance.

Ian will be explaining why you should be viewing the programme from afar, what to think of when looking at the plan, how to ensure all elements of the performance picture are in place and functioning well, and how to create an environment of collaboration.

Dan McFarland
Position: Head Coach, Ulster Rugby
Presentation Title: Creating, Supporting and Driving a High-Performance Rugby Programme

As a rugby player, Dan’s career highlights include winning the French Top 14 with Stade Français in 2000, before amassing over 100 caps for Connacht. He made the transition from player to coach at Connacht, becoming Assistant Coach in 2010. He went on to be Assistant Coach for Glasgow Warriors, who won the PRO12 Championship for the first time during his first season as second in command, before moving to take up the role of Scottish national team Assistant Coach in 2017. Dan joined Ulster in the summer of 2018 and has overseen and considerable positive turn in fortune for the team, including qualification for both the PRO14 and Champions Cup playoff stages during his first season.

Dan will present the key focus points he has instilled at Ulster Rugby, including how he has created and established the cultural identity he uses with both players and staff. In particular, Dan will discuss how the support staff can positively and negatively affect a high-performance environment. Dan will also discuss the common language he uses to create an aligned vision and the key behaviours and standards he sets to drive the Ulster Rugby programme.

Nick Winkelman
Position: Head of Athletic Performance & Science, IRFU
Presentation Title: Developing a Team of Teams – The IRFU Performance Model

Nick’s primary role is to oversee the delivery and development of strength & conditioning and sports science across all national and provincial rugby teams within Ireland. Prior to working for Irish Rugby, Nick was the Director of Education and Training Systems for EXOS, where he oversaw the development and execution of all internal and external educational initiatives. As a performance coach, Nick oversaw the speed and assessment component of the EXOS NFL Combine Development Programme, and supported many athletes across the NFL, MLB, NBA, National Sport Organisations, and Military. Nick completed his PhD with a dissertation focus on motor skill learning and sprinting, and is a recognised speaker on human performance and coaching science. He has publications through the UKSCA, NSCA, Human Movement Science, and Routledge. Nick’s new book, The Language of Coaching, is scheduled to be released in late 2019.

During this presentation you’ll learn about the IRFU’s approach to developing a team of teams that are both competitors and collaborators, working towards a common mission to be world-leading in the holistic development of the physical & mental qualities required to thrive within all codes & levels of Irish Rugby.

Phil Glasgow
Position: Head of Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy, IRFU
Presentation Title: Thriving not Surviving in a High-Performance Team

Phil Glasgow has extensive experience in high performance sport as a practitioner, teacher, researcher and mentor to the ‘team behind the team’. Phil is Head of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation at the Irish Rugby Football Union having previously held the position of Head of Sports Medicine at the Sports Institute Northern Ireland for 14 years. He was the Chief Physiotherapy Officer for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where he led the physiotherapy team of the most successful British Olympic Team in history. Phil is passionate about understanding factors that influence the development of mastery and performance in both sporting and professional environments. He is visiting professor of the School of Sport at Ulster University and teaches on a number of postgraduate sports medicine programmes at several UK and European universities.

Phil’s presentation will focus on working effectively as part of an inter-disciplinary team to support performance, strategies to develop and sustain excellence, and performing under pressure.


  • 08:30 Registration & Networking
  • 09:00 Introductions
  • 09:15 Presentation 1 (Nick Winkelman)
  • 10:15 Breakout 1
  • 10:45 Break
  • 11:00 Presentation 2 (Ian McKeown)
  • 12:00 Breakout 2
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • 13:30 Presentation 3 (Phil Glasgow)
  • 14:30 Breakout 3
  • 15:00 Break
  • 15:15 Presentation 4 (Dan McFarland)
  • 16:15 Panel Discussion Q&A
  • 17:00 Closing Comments & Networking
  • 19:00 Event Close

(Enter BLKBOX at the Checkout to get 10% off your ticket)