19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
The first programme of its kind, the Plan will focus on delivering three key goals to enhance the position of Women's rugby as one of the world's fastest-growing team sports and an accessible sport for all ages and abilities:
- Sustainably increase global participation
- Provide greater competition opportunities on the world stage in Sevens and Fifteens
- Optimise the Olympic Games opportunity and deliver an exceptional tournament at Rio 2016
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "These are exciting times for rugby around the world. We have witnessed an 18% growth in participation across the sport since the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
"Olympic Games inclusion has provided a fantastic opportunity for rugby to flourish in nations that would not usually be associated with the sport. Women's rugby has been at the very heart of that revolution.
"Women's rugby is currently on a high. The 2009 Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens firmly placed it on the global map, demonstrating the sheer universality and appetite for the game.
"The 2010 Women's Rugby World Cup underpinned the tremendous potential for the Women's game to attract new audiences and fans, while delivering exceptional competition.
"The IRB and our member Unions are committed to ensuring greater opportunities at elite and community level.
"While investment and targeted development programmes have led to a phenomenal increase in participation in recent years, we now have the foundation to maximise that potential and work together in line with the clear focus provided by the Plan to deliver our ambitious targets for the sport."
The Plan coincides with an exciting period on the international stage which includes the 2013 Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow, the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup in France and the Olympic Games Rugby Sevens competitions in 2016 and 2020.
Complementing the IRB Strategic Plan launched last year, the IRB Women's Rugby Plan has at its heart the aim to 'increase female participation and the standard of Women's rugby globally'.
IRB Women's Development Manager Susan Carty said: "The IRB Women's Rugby Plan has been developed following a root and branch review of the Women's game involving all our member Unions and I would like to thank them for their support of this important process.
"Under the auspices of the Women's Rugby Working Group, Union feedback and consultation has delivered the priorities that will guide the development of the sport through what is a period full of opportunities.
"These priorities will be underpinned by developing a global competition model, raising the profile and commercial value of Women's rugby, providing strong and effective leadership and promoting Women's rugby in all its forms.
"In addition, we will focus resources with member Unions to provide opportunities for more young girls to become more involved in the game."