4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
The IRFU recognises that change will always induce a level of anxiety; equally the Union's work through the consultative and strategic planning processes reveal that to do nothing would be to fail in creating a better environment and future for Irish rugby, clubs, players, volunteers and supporters alike.
The IRFU is operating within the context of leading the sport of Irish rugby as a whole for the betterment of all stakeholders and will publish the entire strategic plan in the coming months. At that point all parties will be in a position to assess the full context into which the league structures fit and specifically the wide range of initiatives that would support the revised league structures.
The plan will be the result of the most comprehensive and open grass roots review ever conducted by any Irish sporting body. Until then the IRFU will continue to do all it can to engage with all parties on the domestic league structures proposed for the 2005-6 season.
It is important to note that the structure of the game of rugby has changed irrevocably and experienced more upheaval in the last 9 years than the previous 120 years of amateur status. This is the first time, since professionalism was introduced in 1995, that Irish rugby has had the chance to take stock of these changes so that it can plan to assess and stabilise the club environment. The Union's assessment points to the need for growing the sport at all levels which will require a rejuvenated and revitalised club scene as the game's bedrock. A healthy club scene including, but not exclusive to, senior team level will be vital if Irish rugby is to survive as a serious sport in this country or as a worthy competitor on the world stage. All clubs need to ensure that they are looking beyond their own immediate interests to ensure that they are also preparing the ground for their long term welfare as well as the overall growth of the sport. Philip Browne.