The Irish Women's Rugby Football Union (IWRFU) held its annual general meeting at Coolmine RFC in Dublin last weekend.
The key areas of discussion at the AGM were centred around the IWRFU executive activities during the season, provincial reports, and integration progression with the IRFU.
The AGM heard how a sub-committee of the IWRFU, consisting of Rohan West, Frances Spalding and Deirdre Lynch, met three times with IRFU representatives in a continuation of the series of integration meetings. Susan Carty replaced Frances Spalding for the latter two meetings.
Major achievements that were noted last season included:
* Securing major sponsor - Anglo Irish Bank, and minor sponsors - Sisk & ProTec.
* Movement towards full integration with IRFU continuing quickly
* Adult players dropped slightly to 1,100, but incredible growth at Underage level
* Organised Under-17 Leagues in Leinster and Munster, and National Blitz grew to over 20 teams
* Leinster and Munster secured Irish Sports Council funding for Women's development programmes
* Secured television coverage of all home Six Nations matches
* Web site broke 230,000 visitors
The reduction in adult playing numbers was due to three primary factors: the raising of the adult playing age from 16 years of age to 17, the folding of a number of adult teams including Athboy, Tralee, Kilkenny, Carlow and Shannon 2nds, and the start of a significant number of retirements of first generation of players.
Issues that were discussed included:
* Arresting fall in adult player numbers and active clubs
* Adult age band moving to 18 years of age
* The creation of a national Youth sub-committee
* Levels of integration and support at provincial level improving rapidly, but still needs greater consistency
* Colleges League to come under auspices of IWRFU to help meet development potential
* To continue process of integration
* New strategic development plan for 2007-2011
...The Irish Women's team who will compete at the World Cup in Edmonton, Canada...
It was also noted that media coverage for the Irish senior Women's team has surpassed all expectations in recent years, due in no small part to the success of the Irish men's team at the same level. It was explained that the low level of coverage afforded beneath Test level was also in line with what is happening at the amateur stage in the men's game, and a commitment was given to continue to lobby hard for inclusion of Women's rugby games in as much coverage as possible.
The incoming IWRFU committee was nominated as follows:
President: Susan Carty; Vice President: Brid Hayden
Secretary: Deirdre Lynch
Treasurer: Rohan West
FIRA/6N Rep: Grainne O'Connell
PRO: Alison Donnelly
Competitions Director: Mark Andrews
Provincial Representatives: to be confirmed
The floor expressed thanks to outgoing president Frances Spalding for her fantastic work over the past few seasons. Well wishes were extended to the Irish senior Women's team who will be competing at the World Cup in Edmonton, Canada in August and September.
Some clubs expressed concern relating to the scrummaging rules in Division Two. It was agreed to examine these laws. Points were also raised in relation to IWRFU funding, where it was requested that more investment be made available to clubs participating in Club finals days. This was noted.
*With thanks to IWRFU PRO Alison Donnelly