Peter Boyle, IRFU President, wrote to all the affiliated rugby clubs in each of the provinces recently to outline the Union's committment to the well being of the domestic club game in the light of recent media speculation on the club game.
The text of that letter is below:
I am writing to you at the beginning of this new season to make sure that you and your club are clear about the I.R.F.U.'s position in relation to domestic club rugby given recent media comments.
At the annual I.R.F.U. Council meeting I stated that there were two priorities for the I.R.F.U. in season 2006/07; i) the successful redevelopment of Lansdowne Road and ii) the well being of the domestic game. This remains the position.
I also want to reiterate that the Union's position is that there is a 3-Tier structure in Irish rugby and clubs are the 3rd tier (the international squad and provincial squads being the other two tiers). Despite suggestions reported in the media to the contrary - this is and will continue to be the Union's position.
As already agreed with representatives of the Club Divisional Associations and Branches earlier this year, we are about to embark with you and other stakeholders in the club game on a detailed review of the structure and format of the AIB League during the course of this season. The aim of this review is to ensure that we have a competition structure that continues to meet the needs of the clubs and Irish rugby into the future. There are complex issues affecting the club game in its entirety and also the professional game which need to be considered carefully and we look forward to working with you and your club colleagues during the course of the season in this regard.
One issue that has been highlighted recently is the area of player development and the provincial A fixtures. I want you to be clear on the Union's policy in this regard:
- clubs have a vital role to play in the elite player development process, providing emerging players with an holistic environment in which they can develop their skills and experience through appropriate competition in the AIB League.
- the following players, if not selected to play for their provincial team, are all available to play AIB League rugby for their club:
- provincial academy players
- provincial development players
- provincial contracted players
The Union's policy in this regard will be implemented.
- equally the high performance and coaching structures in the provincial teams and academies have a vital role in player development within the professional rugby environment. This runs in parallel with the role played by clubs but is very much part of the 2nd tier i.e. the Province.
- there is a need for 8 to 10 provincial A fixtures as part of this 2nd tier player development process. The I.R.F.U. has been careful this season to ensure that these fixtures are not in conflict with the AIB League and they are not played in the week of up coming AIB League fixtures. Nor will provincial A fixtures conflict with the AIB Cup Semi-Final or Final.
Finally I want you to know that the Union is committed to the well-being of the domestic club game. Any suggestion otherwise is untrue. The clubs are the core of our game and we will need to work closely together, along with our Branches, to ensure that during this season we properly review our domestic competition structure with all its complex interfaces between senior clubs, junior clubs and the professional game. To achieve the right decision we collectively need to research, review and inform ourselves. Then, and only then, will we collectively be in a position to make an informed decision for the benefit of Irish Rugby. In this we are happy to follow the process already agreed with club representatives.
I wish you every success in the coming season.
Yours in Rugby,
Peter J. Boyle