10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
This 3.75 million euro investment in the structures of Irish rugby will bring many young people into the game, which will be of enormous benefit to them as individuals and to their communities.
"I am very pleased to be here in Limerick, the home of Irish Rugby, to announce details of the funding which the Government has allocated for the development of the game. The Programme for Government makes very clear this Government's policy of supporting sport. The Programme states that sport can play a major role in personal, community and general development and I, and my colleagues in Government, are committed to seeking to develop it at all levels.
"We are especially concerned to address participation levels in sport. We want our young people to have access to quality sporting opportunities, to develop a lifelong relationship with sport and to embrace the healthy lifestyle that goes with sporting activity."
"In conjunction with the Irish Sports Council, this Government has identified that the GAA, IRFU and FAI, the three main field sport National Governing Bodies of sport, are best positioned to deliver major programmes, which will provide opportunities for thousands of our young people to participate in sport. These organisations have the infrastructure, the facilities, the committed volunteers and the professional expertise to ensure that these major investments pay dividends in terms of the access to quality facilities, training, coaching etc. which our young people deserve. In addition, they enjoy a high profile and a level of popularity that makes them uniquely placed to attract young people to sporting activities."
" Reflecting the special position of these sports, Budget 2001 contained a special provision of #2.5 million to be allocated to the three organisations. They have worked closely with the Irish Sports Council on planning the programmes arising from this allocation to ensure that the investment is targeted and reaps the required dividends. Initial reports show that the benefits of these programmes are already becoming evident."
"Last year the IRFU approached the Government with plans for enhanced programmes for young people. Philip Browne (CEO) and his colleagues presented a detailed case for consideration by Government, which set out ambitious targets for the sport. The strength of the case made, combined with the IRFU's excellent track record in sports development, has meant that this Government is delighted to be able to allocate 3.75 million this year as an investment in the future of rugby."
"This level of funding reflects the confidence of the Government in the IRFU. It is an outstanding sporting organisation that provides sporting opportunities from the local right through to the elite levels of sporting endeavour."
"I am particularly pleased to be making this announcement in Limerick, which has such a strong and passionate rugby tradition. The sport has a unique place in the culture of Limerick and has provided the nation with many memorable sporting moments and personalities."
"We are joined here today by some of Ireland's outstanding rugby players. Their presence reflects the importance of participation initiatives to the health of the sport. The base must be broadened if the elite teams and players can be expected to perform at the highest levels in future years. Every top player was introduced to the sport by an enthusiastic volunteer who wanted to share their passion for rugby. We want to give all our young people the opportunities to compete at the sport and hope that they stay involved for the love of the game."
"The work of the IRFU relies on the availability of high quality, appropriate facilities around the country. In this regard, my Department provides, through the Sports Council, substantial financial support to the National Governing Bodies of sport, and to their clubs, for the provision of facilities to meet their needs in the areas of training, coaching and competition. Since 1998 my Department has allocated 213 million to 2,904 sports projects under the Sports Capital Programme. Taken with, for example, the new 50 metre pool in Limerick, the pool at Abbotstown, the new National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra, the greatly enhanced National Boxing Stadium and the hockey stadium at Belfield, it can be seen that there is now an ambitious Programme in place for the provision of sporting facilities and also a more co-ordinated approach to identifying, nurturing and developing our outstanding talent."
"The provision of these facilities, the special support programmes of the Irish Sports Council, and the work of the National Governing Bodies of sport all contribute to the development of sport in this country."
"The funding I am announcing today will be allocated through the Irish Sports Council. The two bodies will work together to ensure that the investment is made for the best interests in Irish sport. This Government has supported the work of the Irish Sports Council since it was established in 1999. Our continuing support is reflected in the Sports Council's budget for investing in the work of the IRFU and others, having increased from just over 12 million euro in 1999 to almost 30 million euro in 2002."
"I endorse the Council's strategy, which seeks to increase participation, performance and excellence in sport. Those three aims are shared by the IRFU and I am confident that today's developments will significantly assist participation in rugby for years to come.