18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
• Increased Funding to Support Expansion of IRUPA Player Services Programmes
• Increased Focus on Education, Personal Development and Financial Planning
• IRUPA to Introduce New Agent Accreditation Scheme by End of 2012
IRUPA, headed by Australian born Chief Executive Omar Hassanein who joined the organisation from the Australian Rugby Players Association in 2011, undertook a complete review of its structures and personnel last year which included the addition of Irish Captain Brian O'Driscoll as its new Chairman.
Fellow Irish Captains Paul O'Connell and Rory Best also joined the board of IRUPA as Executive Directors. With fresh new faces on the IRUPA Board came a fresh new approach, including a strong emphasis on bridging the gap between both players and administrators.
The past 18 months has consequently seen a raft of positive change, with the revamped partnership agreement being the net result of productive and continuous discussion between IRUPA and the IRFU.
Within the agreement, there is a commitment from the IRFU to actively and financially support a range of IRUPA driven initiatives, including an expansion of the current Player Services Programme and the introduction of a regulation scheme for player agents, allowing for greater transparency and security for players.
Additionally, the parties have both committed to engage more regularly and openly, allowing for greater mutual understanding on ongoing issues facing professional rugby players.
Commenting on the announcement IRUPA Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said: "This represents a landmark change in the way players and administrators interact in Irish Rugby. As a player group, we are pleased to have the opportunity to work together with the IRFU on vitally important projects in Irish Rugby and are grateful for their cooperation and support.
The Player Services Program is particularly important as it provides the entire off field support structure that players require in their lives including career development, personal development, financial structuring and Player brand awareness to name but a few key areas. This certainly is a step in the right direction."
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne also welcomed the new agreement and said: "I believe the last 12 months have been a watershed in terms of the co-operation and understanding between both the IRFU and IRUPA. The IRFU is totally committed to assisting IRUPA in delivering key services to players to support them as professionally off the pitch as on the pitch.
As professional rugby moves closer towards the end of its second decade of existence, the challenges that face our players are increasing and both IRUPA and the IRFU recognised that providing for these needs had to be improved to keep pace with the changes in the game. I would like to compliment Omar and his executive along for their great work over the last 18 months that has brought us to this point and look forward to a continued close relationship over the next three years."
IRUPA Chairman Brian O'Driscoll also believed this was a positive step for player welfare in Ireland and said: "Developing stronger services for the players was certainly one of the key goals that the IRUPA executive identified last year as part of the longer term strategy for the organisation.
"A big part of that was obviously building a stronger relationship with the IRFU as there is no doubt that by working together can only benefit both the players and the game in Ireland. The new agreement isan incredibly positive step and hopefully it can provide a roadmap for player welfare into the future."
IRUPA was founded in October 2001 to promote and protect the welfare of all professional players across the four provinces. In addition to catering for the welfare of players from a career and personal development point of view, it also advocates on key aspects of the players' employment including tax, insurance and a wide range of contract related issues.
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