The IRFU wishes to provide an update in relation to reviews undertaken on matters pertaining to our women’s game.
Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualification Campaign Review
The IRFU has appointed Amanda Bennett, former Welsh Rugby International and Founder of FairPlay, as an independent consultant to conduct an independent review into the preparation, participation and performance of the Ireland Women’s XV during the recent RWC 2021 qualifying campaign.
Amanda will be joined by Kevin Bowring and Helen Philips on the independent review panel. The overarching aim will be to learn from any issues that led to Ireland failing to qualify and to identify areas of improvement that will support future international campaigns. This review is scheduled to take eight – nine weeks.
Women In Rugby Action Plan Review
Learnings/recommendations from the RWC qualifier review will also feed into a separate, broader structural review of the implementation of 2018 – 2023 Women In Rugby Action Plan.
This review was established some months ago following a recommendation from the IRFU’s Women’s Advisory Group. The review group is chaired by John Robinson, Senior Vice President IRFU, and includes Philip Browne, CEO, and IRFU committee members Fiona Steed and Su Carty. Amanda Bennett will conduct all interviews and field work.
Amongst the issues this review is charged with examining are:
- The alignment between the Domestic Game and the High-Performance areas in relation to targets set out in the IRFU Women in Rugby Action Plan.
- A review of women’s player pathways (including 15s, 7s and all other formats of the game) and plans for their development over time.
- A review of women’s competition structures.
- Extensive stakeholder engagement will be undertaken as part of the process. It is anticipated the ‘Women in Rugby Action Plan’ review will be completed in early in 2022
Interprovincial Facilities Review Findings & Recommendations
A review into the changing facilities provided for the teams competing in the Women’s Interprovincial Championship with specific emphasis on the matches played at Energia Park on September 11, 2021 has been completed.
The detailed review, undertaken by IRFU Legal Counsel, Sean Brassil, included interviews with the four team captains and written reports and interviews from/with personnel from each of the four provinces and the IRFU.
The report found that while difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic were significant, they were not determining factors in causing teams to be set up in the wrong area of the stadium resulting in inadequate and unacceptable facilities/conditions for the teams on the day.
Several key issues were identified as contributing to the systems failure including:
- Ambiguity as to responsibility for the organisation of the final weekend of fixtures for the series.
- Knock-on confusion as to some of the operational and logistical elements of the event planning on the day.
- A lack of personnel and resources on the ground to properly manage the weekend fixtures.
As a result, the following specific recommendations have been made and will be implemented:
- A new set of guidelines in relation to the running of the Women’s Interprovincial Championship should be prepared to ensure a minimum standard of facilities. To prevent ambiguity, this must identify the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder, improve information sharing and reporting lines and establish a complaint escalation procedure.
- Additional training and support should be provided to event and facilities management staff and volunteers.
- To empower player-voice, a dedicated female Liaison Officer should be appointed by the Provincial branches to support and assist players to deal confidentially with any issues they may have in relation to facilities with appropriate authority to address any issues that arise.
Ultimately, these recommendations will lead to the appointment by the IRFU of a single point of responsibility for the delivery of appropriate structures for the women’s interprovincial championships in the future.
Commenting on the report CEO Philip Browne said, “Everyone was appalled by the conditions the players had to endure. From the moment we became aware of the issues we apologised on behalf of all involved and resolved to ensure this would not happen again, I want to strongly echo that commitment once again today.
“A significant amount of work went into the delivery of what was a highly entertaining interpro series. However, a series of errors has overshadowed the games, we all take responsibility for such failings and vow to do better by implementing the recommendations of this review.”