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A Christmas Message From The IRFU

A Christmas Message From The IRFU

A Christmas message from IRFU President Martin O’Sullivan.

I am delighted to wish all followers of Irish rugby a very Happy Christmas and a safe and peaceful New Year.

I especially offer greetings to my volunteer and professional staff colleagues in the IRFU and provincial branches and to our vast army of volunteers throughout the island, who so loyally help to administer our game across the clubs, schools, third level and women’s sections.

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Your collective contributions serve Irish rugby admirably and I assure you of the IRFU’s appreciation.
It is my fervent hope – be it as administrator, player, coach, sponsor or spectator – that your involvement in the game brings you every enjoyment and satisfaction throughout 2016.

The New Year certainly holds great appeal across all strands of the game. It kickstarts with particular attraction on the International front given that our Ireland Men’s and Women’s teams will be defending their respective RBS 6 Nations titles in February and March.

I know you will join with me in wishing coaches Joe Schmidt and Tom Tierney every success. It is also my hope that the games are again highlighted by large and vociferous numbers of supporters helping to inspire our players.

The year certainly presents a fascinating if daunting 12-Test fixture list for Joe Schmidt’s charges. In addition to the RBS 6 Nations, the men in green travel to South Africa for a three Test tour in June. That is followed in November when new ground is broken with Ireland taking on World champions New Zealand at the famous Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago.

And a fortnight later the All Blacks are again the opposition, this time at the Aviva Stadium. It is the showpiece of Ireland’s three-match GUINNESS Series, which also features a repeat of our World Cup 2015 opening game against Canada and a crack at the recent World Cup runners-up Australia.

And there is plenty more. New ground will also be broken when the Ireland Women’s team host England and Canada in their first ever home autumn International series in November.

Furthermore, the increasing interest and status of our participation in Sevens rugby is highlighted by Ireland’s qualification for Women’s World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournaments and the heady prospect of taking part in the Rio Olympic Games in August.

That we have been chosen to host the Women’s Sevens Olympic repechage at the UCD Bowl in June is another feather in the cap for Women’s rugby in Ireland.

All the while, the ultimate fate of our provincial teams in the GUINNESS PRO12 and European Champions Cup competitions will command their own interest. This is also the case for our up-and-coming Ireland Under-20 squad playing in their own Six Nations Championship as a build-up to the Junior World Championship in Manchester in June.

Given that the grassroots game is the very lifeblood of the Irish rugby calendar, it gladdens my heart that there is also much to enthuse across the senior and junior club front.

The package makes for a most appealing sense of activity throughout clubland and on behalf of the IRFU, I thank our Community Rugby Partners, Ulster Bank, and all others who support our grassroots. It is the very essence of our game.

Festive Greetings and a Happy New Year.

Martin O’Sullivan
President – Irish Rugby Football Union