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Irish Sports Council Grant 3.5 million To The IRFU

Irish Sports Council Grant  3.5 million To The IRFU

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O’Donoghue T.D. has announced the allocation of 3.5m by the Irish Sports Council to the IRFU for its 2005 programmes.

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O’Donoghue T.D. has announced the allocation of 3.5m by the Irish Sports Council to the IRFU for its 2005 programmes, aimed at increasing participation in rugby throughout Ireland at all levels and for all sectors of society.

This brings to 15 million the total allocated to the IRFU by the Irish Sports Council since 2001. The funding arises from the special budget measure for the encouragement of greater underage participation in the three major field sports.

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Minister O’Donoghue said: “The IRFU is working to ensure that rugby develops and thrives throughout the country. In many ways is a model organisation, retaining its distinctive character while successfully meeting the challenges of professional sport.

“The Government continues to invest in rugby because it delivers quality sport at participation, performance and elite levels.”

Mr Pat O’Neill, Irish Sports Council Chairman said: “The IRFU has developed innovative programmes to increase participation for all, which is the heart of the Council’s strategy.

“For example, the TAG Rugby programme is a model as it offers opportunities to many who would not normally be involved in playing rugby, keeps many involved who might
otherwise fall away from sport and uses facilities to their maximum throughout the year.”

The Irish Sports Council and the IRFU agreed a detailed schedule of specific programmes for 2005. The IRFU currently employs, as part of their Underage Participation Strategy, four Provincial Development Managers, twelve Regional Development Officers and seventy-five Youth Development Officers.

The 2005 programme will follow closely on the success of recent years. Highlights in 2004 included the IRFU and Limerick City Sports Partnership co-operating on the successful piloting of the Buntus Rugby programme, providing opportunities to both girls and boys in primary school to play the sport. Buntus Rugby builds on the skills developed in the Council’s generic Buntus programme and allows rugby to be taught on a non-contact basis using tags and belts.

Based on the successful Limerick model, the IRFU this year are rolling it out with Local Sports Partnership locations in Sligo, Cork and Donegal.

Tag Rugby has been a phenomenal success for the IRFU in expanding the number of people playing rugby on a recreational basis. The game is played on a mixed basis and is non-contact. The Adult Tag Summer programme had 6,000 participants in 2004, including 2,500 women participants. Additionally, the IRFU, in conjunction with the National Community Games, will be expanding TAG Rugby to over 100 areas this year.

The Tallaght Project, probably the most high profile sports development project in Ireland, continued to go from strength to strength in 2004. The IRFU plan to expand this project concept in 2005, to the Swords area.

In 2004 the IRFU made changes to the Academy structure, placing it on a provincial basis. There are now 70 players contracted in the Academy system. The process starts at Under-16/17 and continues for three to four years. This September the Academy intends to take on 20 players for the three-year Academy programme with the aim of developing these players for provincial and ultimately national squads.

Mr Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the IRFU, said at the launch: “The Irish Sports Council funding is absolutely essential to the roll-out of our development programmes. We recognise that the support from the Government and the Council is essential in securing a healthy future for rugby, from the elite through the club game and to the recreational participants.

“Rugby will play its part in ensuring quality opportunities in sport for all aspiring rugby players: young and old, male and female, elite and recreational, throughout the country.”

The entire IRFU programme, as with the GAA and the FAI, 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 will announce details of its allocations to the GAA and FAI over the coming weeks.

Mr John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council, said: “The Council acknowledges the great work done by the IRFU in rolling out a sports development programmes over the past four years. In particular we welcome the collaboration with Local Sports Partnerships in rolling out Buntus – giving young children a great start in sport.”