18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Last weekend saw the the IRFU twitter page reach 40,000 followers, the first to do so amongst all the countries participating in the Rugby World Cup.
IRFU Commercial and Marketing Director Padraig Power was delighted with the news. "We launched on Twitter last year and the page has grown steadily every month. To be the first of any rugby nation to reach 40,000 followers on Twitter is a great achievement," he said.
"It shows clearly how social media is changing the way we interact. Supporters are coming direct to the source for news from within the Ireland camp.
"We used Twitter to organise our Supporters Hubs in New Zealand and that was evident in the thousands of flags which we distributed to Irish supporters in New Plymouth last weekend."
Twitter.com/irfurugby features links to all the regular news items from www.irishrugby.ie but has also become a real fourm for rugby clubs and supporters to engage with each other.
Speaking about the success of the IRFU Twitter page, Barry Cunningham, Website and Supporters Club Manager, said: "Twitter has been a real success for us. It helped us to mobilise and canvas opinion during the 'Free To Air' debate and it is also proving invaluable in engaging with rugby clubs.
"We have used Twitter to open another avenue of communication with our supporters and clubs and it is an excellent way to promote the club game as well as the Ireland team."
In addition to Twitter, the IRFU App is one of the most popular sports apps in Ireland. Since it was launched over a year ago the app has been in the Top 10 most downloaded sports apps.
A new version for iPhone was launched at the weekend, enabling Apple users to view all the multimedia news - including live streams from Irish Rugby TV. There are also Nokia, Android, Blackberry and Samsung versions of the app available.
Cunningham commented: "The app has been another success - it went straight in at number 1 in the sports download charts and it is still in the top 10 a year later.
"It also made us look at our mobile internet site in a different way, so we have reconfigured that to enable people who don't havesmart phones to enjoy all the benefits of the app in an easy to use manner on their mobile phone."
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