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IRFU apologise to players as World Cup review recommendations drop

By PA
A disappointed Anna Caplice of Ireland at the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup (Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is to increase its funding into the women’s game by £830,000 annually following a review into Ireland’s failure to qualify for the World Cup later this year.

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An independent review conducted in the wake of the team’s disappointing performance produced 30 recommendations, all of which have been accepted at Lansdowne Road.

It will increase the IRFU’s annual budget for the women’s game to £3.3million, while two new roles are to be created – head of women’s performance and pathways and a full-time women’s XVs national team programme manager

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“Our vision for Irish rugby, as set out in our Strategic Plan 2018 – 2023, is based on ‘building success together’. We have fallen short of this aspiration in our women’s game,” IRFU chief executive Kevin Potts said.

“However, we are committed to putting this right and we regard the recommendations of this independent review as a solid basis from which to reignite the long-term development of women’s rugby in Ireland.”

Potts went on to say: “This was an independent review. Players, coaches, and staff contributed feedback openly and honestly as part of a collective effort to analyse the reasons for the failure to qualify for the World Cup and, more importantly, to identify solutions to address them. I thank them for their participation and for their ongoing commitment to the often-difficult path of continual improvement demanded in a high-performance culture.

“The 30 recommendations published today are detailed and are testament to the robust feedback provided. They have formed the basis for a series of constructive briefings which have been held with the players, with representatives of the player group who wrote to the Minister, with Sport Ireland and with the Department of Sport.

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“For me, this was, first and foremost, about listening to the player group and understanding their concerns. It was also important to ensure that the players had faith in the process and in our desire to work collaboratively. I have already had several meetings with representatives of the player group and have formally apologised to them on behalf of the IRFU.

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“While we have much to improve on, the Independent Review did highlight the exceptional effort and dedication of players and members of the performance team. It is important I acknowledge this commitment and thank them.

“I want to thank Amanda Bennett and her Independent Panel for this work and to apologise to players who have felt let down or not respected. To them, I say: we will do better, we will do what is right for women in our game, because it is the right thing to do.

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“With the assistance of Amanda Bennett, under the Chairmanship of IRFU Senior Vice-President John Robinson, we have begun the wider review into the strategic direction of our women’s game, which will be completed in the months ahead. This work is a matter of the highest priority for the IRFU committee and the executive team.

“The players asked the IRFU for changes that will have a long-term positive impact on the Women’s International Teams into the future. I believe what we have announced today provides a strong starting point, underpinned as it is by the IRFU’s commitment to c €1milion in additional resourcing to implement these recommendations. Most importantly of all, I want to assure all aspiring women’s players that they have the full support of the IRFU to achieve their ambitions.

“Finally, as the countdown for this season’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations Championship begins let me wish Greg McWilliams, Niamh Briggs, their management team and all the players who will attend this weekend’s opening squad session every good luck in their campaign and assure them of the full support of the IRFU.”

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