The Irish Sports Council will allocate 3,500,000 to the IRFU for their 2003 programmes aimed at increasing participation in rugby throughout Ireland at all levels and for all sectors of society. This latest grant allocation brings to 7.9 million in total allocated to the IRFU by the Irish Sports Council since the introduction in 2001 of the special budget measure for the encouragement of greater underage participation in the three major field sports.
The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O'Donoghue T.D. made the announcement at Lansdowne Road on September 16th accompanied by a group of young people from Tallaght who have benefited from the IRFU "Tallaght Project"- an initiative aimed at establishing a self-sustaining community based Rugby club in the area.
The project has seen immediate successes, with 3,000 children receiving coaching every week. The scheme is in its fifth year and is run by Philip Lawlor and his team of Youth Development officers. It introduces and involves in rugby many people who otherwise do not have alternative opportunities to participate in organised sporting activity.
Speaking about the grant,
The IRFU programme, as with the G.A.A. and the F.A.I., is in line with the Irish Sports Council's strategic objectives of increasing sporting opportunities for all and particularly for school aged children and disadvantaged groups. The Council has allocated a total of 6.215 million euro to the three big sports bodies in 2003 to implement these programmes.
p> Mr Pat O'Neill, Irish Sports Council Chairman said " Our strategy, "Sport for life" underlines that our priority is to create sporting opportunities for young people. The Sports Council will continue to work with the IRFU for the benefit of young people in Ireland and for the good of Irish sport".
The Irish Sports Council has a detailed programme of specific projects for 2003 with the IRFU, including the Development Officer Programme that provide the human resources required to implement the various schemes, the Clubs of Ireland Programme, the Tallaght Project, Tag Rugby, the Academy Development and programmes aimed at improving our performances in the international arena from U-18, Schools and Women's rugby.
Mr John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council, said, "The Council acknowledges the great work done by the IRFU in developing sport throughout Ireland and increasing participation in the sport at all levels. In particular I endorse their work with young people having their first experience of sport with a strong focus on enjoyment and fair play".
Mr John Quilligan, President of the IRFU attended the launch. " The close relationship between the IRFU and the Irish Sports Council is beginning to generate fantastic results at grass roots level. These programmes will shape the future of Irish rugby and we are specifically aiming to implement programmes that will increase participation amongst young people. The Irish Sports Council funding is absolutely essential to the success of our initiatives and a major boost towards achieving our objectives", he said.
The Development Officers Programme is regarded by the IRFU as the infrastructure through which the desired levels of success across all sectors are being achieved. The IRFU points to a hugely encouraging 10% increase of youth competitors and the rising number of affiliated schools. The Development Officers are also heavily involved in the Elite Player Development and Representative Games programmes. Currently the IRFU employs four provincial Development Managers, 12 Regional development Managers and 76 Youth development officers. This programme will receive 1.14million funding from the Irish Sports Council.
The Clubs of Ireland programme will receive 800,000 of Irish Sports Council funding and access to this funding is based strictly on clubs performing against agreed criteria of development and participation. Clubs must encourage participation amongst women and youth and provide training to the referees and coaches who are essential to the further development of rugby.
Tag Rugby is a primary school programme aimed at introducing the basic principles of rugby. In 2001/2002 the programme introduced Tag Rugby to over 350 schools and 35,000 children and all schools were provided with gear and equipment. Youth Development Officers instructed the schools how to play the game and progress was monitored over the course of the year.
287,000 in to be invested in National Representative underage sides, which are seen as vital to the development of the domestic game, acting as a catalyst for aspiring young players and coaches at club and provincial level. The performances of our national sides are vital to increasing our international credibility and are a major element in the success of our Senior National Squad. Non-professional elite teams such as the World Cup U-19 squad, Women's Six Nations squad and underage representative schools teams will benefit from this Sports Council funding.