They were joined on the pitch by former Leinster and Ireland prop Reggie Corrigan and former Munster and Ireland hooker Frankie Sheahan who outlined the damage this proposal could do and the loss of revenue it could involve for Irish rugby.
Irish rugby is not normally at odds with the Government, however this is the single most serious threat to Irish rugby since the sport went professional 15 years ago.
We are asking you to consider the following and, if you agree, to lend your support to the campaign to persuade the Minister not to damage the sport irreparably by registering your protest today.
• The Minister's proposals would result in the loss of between €10-€12 million in annual revenue to the IRFU. This represents between 16% and 20% of the annual budget and is the equivalent of the entire annual budget for domestic/club rugby.
• This income would be lost to Irish rugby because it would also result in lost income for the international partnerships that govern both the Six Nations and the Heineken Cup and that the IRFU are part of. This would seriously change Ireland's negotiating position in these partnerships.
It would also greatly reduce the money allocated to the professional teams, resulting in a significant loss of competitiveness at national and provincial level in all competitions and would probably damage the very popularity and growth of our sport.
• The IRFU is a non-profit organisation, its revenues (€57m) are ploughed back into the sport each year to support the professional teams (€32m), domestic/club rugby (€10.5m), elite player development (€3m), administration, overheads and marketing (€6.8m), depreciation (€1.2 million), games support (€700k) and grounds (€600k).
• The IRFU is also at the beginning of a long term commitment to repay its share of the new Aviva Stadium.
What can you do? Email your message of protest against the Minister's proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org.