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IRFU Joins Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme To Promote More Inclusiveness In Rugby

Aileen Bailey IRFU, Tristan Casson-Rennie HD Sunflower, Lorna Danaher Energia, Minister Anne Rabbitte, David McKay IRFU and Ruth Rabét HD Sunflower

Aileen Bailey IRFU, Tristan Casson-Rennie HD Sunflower, Lorna Danaher Energia, Minister Anne Rabbitte, David McKay IRFU and Ruth Rabét HD Sunflower Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

The IRFU, in partnership with Energia, is delighted to announce that it has become a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, a global network which supports people with any hidden disability or condition who may need a helping hand at work, on transport and/or in public spaces.

Without a visual cue, it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge or understand daily barriers faced by people living with an non-visible disability. The Sunflower lanyard, pin badge or wristband is a simple tool to encourage understanding and inclusivity.

Building on results of a recent EDI survey among IRFU staff and across the game, the sporting organisation is putting steps in place to have a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive membership across its affiliated clubs.

Following training at Aviva Stadium in April, staff have a better understanding of how to support people living with disabilities and know that about 1 in 5 people in Ireland have a disability and 80% these are non-visible.

As part of the IRFU membership to Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland , clubs across the country have access to the Sunflower training and resources, which will help to develop a greater awareness among the rugby community that anyone wearing the Sunflower might need a little more time, extra help and understanding.

IRFU has 54 clubs involved in direct delivery of the game to people with disabilities as well as players in all clubs that have additional needs. Access to the Sunflower will provide additional support for these players, as well as raise awareness among the membership, of how to offer support to make the environment more welcoming and inclusive for all.

The IRFU’s head of EDI, Anne Marie Hughes says: “As a national governing body for a sport that offers inclusive formats, it is important we have that diversity across the whole of the organisation. Membership of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme allows us to raise awareness not just within teams involved in disability rugby but across the entire membership.

The green lanyard supported by Energia, can be worn by people with a non-visible disability, while the white ‘I Support’ lanyards are for staff and volunteers to show their understanding of the Sunflower and support those with non-visible disabilities. We are on a journey to making rugby as welcoming and inclusive to as many people as possible and this is another step to providing greater access and understanding to wider rugby community ”

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland & Northern Ireland added: “The IRFU is the first sport governing body in Ireland to become a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. I am thrilled to welcome them along with all of the rugby clubs across the country who will now be able to recognise their members who may live with a non-visible disability or condition. Recognising the Sunflower will make rugby more inclusive to everyone, supporting people playing rugby, and spectators watching a game.”

Lorna Danaher, Sponsorship Manager for Energia Group added,

“We are delighted to be supporting Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and recognize its powerful symbol of understanding and support. It serves as an important reminder that not all disabilities are visible, fostering empathy and inclusivity in our communities. We are determined to continue our support of Irish Rugby to make the game more inclusive for everyone, and Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is leading the way in that effort.”

For more information on the various programmes of rugby that the IRFU offer for all abilities please visit: https://www.irishrugby.ie/playing-the-game/spirit-of-rugby/disability-rugby/

For further information about Hidden Disabilities Sunflower please visit: https://hdsunflower.com/irl

To request a Sunflower lanyard click here.