Former Ireland lock and current IRFU Medical Advisor Dr. Michael Molloy has been appointed as the International Rugby Board's first ever Medical Officer.
As part of the IRB's ongoing roll-out of the Strategic Plan for rugby, Connemara man Molloy, who earned his first of 27 international caps against France in 1966, will take on the newly-established role.
IRB Chairman Dr. Syd Millar said: "As rugby continues to develop as a professional sport the IRB has to consider the important issues of player safety and welfare.
'Therefore, as part of the Strategic Plan it was recognised that the IRB had a responsibility to develop best practice medical guidelines and programmes for application at all levels of rugby throughout the world.
"For example, the IRB has identified the need to help co-ordinate all the quality research work that is being conducted by our major Unions. This follows the IRB's commitment to fund medical/player welfare projects in England and France as part of the recently announced Stg#30 million Strategic Plan high performance investment initiatives.
"Therefore, the IRB is delighted that Dr. Michael Molloy will become the organisation's first Medical Officer to oversee this increasingly important area of the game of rugby. As a former international rugby player, who represented Ireland 27 times, he fully understands the needs of the players and in his present role of Medical Advisor to the Irish Rugby Union he is familiar with all current issues related to player welfare.
"He was instrumental in setting up the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. He was the inaugural Dean of the Faculty and has been re-appointed for a second term. The Faculty is the first of its kind in Europe and is responsible for training and continuing medical education in Sports and Exercise Medicine in Ireland. The Faculty has a close collaboration with the Intercollegiate Academic Board of Sports and Exercise Medicine in the UK and is linked with similar institutions worldwide.
"Furthermore, Dr. Molloy is vastly experienced as a Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist at Cork University Hospital. He has substantial expertise in Sports Medicine and a profound understanding of rugby and its epidemiology. The IRB looks forward to working with him as he builds relationships with our Member Unions and their existing medical personnel to drive on-going research initiatives for the sport," added Dr Millar.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr. Molloy, 61, stated: "I am honoured and excited to have been asked to become the IRB Medical Officer. It is a very challenging but important role, which will help ensure the highest standard of care for all rugby players.
"The provision of best-practice medicine is critical to the health and well being of all players. As Sport and Exercise Medicine has now become a high profile speciality, accepted academically, all this expertise and medical technology will be available to assist us in achieving our ultimate goal."
Connemara man Molloy, a Director of the Masters in Sports and Exercise Medicine at University College, Cork, qualified in Medicine at University College Galway in 1968 and completed an 11 years training programme in London at the Royal London Hospital and King's College Hospital. He is currently a Consultant Physician/Rheumatologist at Cork University Hospital and is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine. He is also an Examiner for the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
He has been Medical Officer/Advisor to the IRFU since 1979 and served on the Medical Committee for the Rugby World Cup from 1987 to 1999.