T/W: Sexual Abuse and Child Abuse

The founder of the UCD Rugby Academy and former Director of Rugby for University College Dublin (UCD), John McClean has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault, dating back to his time as a teacher and rugby coach at Terenure College.

McClean, of Casimir Avenue, Harold’s Cross, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of indecent assault against 23 schoolboys between 1973 and 1990 on 2 November. Since then, reported in the Irish Times, three civil cases have been taken against both McClean and the management of Terenure College.

The 75-year-old served as Director of Rugby for UCD from 1997 until 2011, during which time he founded the UCD Rugby Academy which operates as a subset of, and is endorsed by, the Irish Rugby Football Union. 

At the end of McClean’s tenure as UCD Director in 2011, he was given an award by UCD Rugby, tweeting: “John McClean presented with an award tonight. A great Director of Rugby and a foundation stone of the modern club.”

UCD did not respond to requests for comment as to whether the college continued to support their comments on McClean and the award he received.

Speaking to The College Tribune in September 2010, former Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll spoke of the special role which McClean played in his rise to international acclaim. “He was the one who brought me into the Academy, he was the first guy to ever play me in the centre in a Leinster schools trial, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude”.

Described as “influential and entertaining” by The College Tribune in 2010, McClean had cultivated an aura of rugby success around him during his time in UCD and Terenure College. McClean had a hand in the development of professional rugby players such as Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Sean O’Brien, Kevin McLaughlin, Josh Van der Flier, James Ryan, Dan Leavy and Garry Ringrose.

This image was shattered after his time in UCD. In 2016, a number of complaints were brought to An Garda Síochána, however, it wasn’t until late 2018, when nine individuals came to the Gardaí with allegation that McClean was arrested in his home by detectives.

After receiving initial charges against McClean, a further 14 victims came forward with allegations. Due to face trial, McClean pleaded guilty to 27 counts of indecent assault, and is being remanded on continuing bail until a sentencing hearing in March of 2021.

None of these cases have been associated with McClean’s time in University College Dublin.

UCD did not respond to requests comment on whether any such incidents had been reported to the college during McClean’s tenure in Belfield.

Hugh Dooley – News Editor

If anyone has been affected by this or similar stories, there are some supports to reach out to:

Rape Crisis Centre: 

Call: 1800 77 88 88


Call: 01 867 0701

Pieta House:

Call: 1800 247 247


Call: 01116123


Call: 1890 474 474