In what constitutes a remarkable and swift climbdown by the IRFU, the union has confirmed that it will reverse stated policy by fully publishing the two independent reports currently being conducted into women’s rugby.
This follows the strongly-worded letter from 62 current and past Irish women’s rugby players sent to the Government last week which expressed a total breakdown of trust with the IRFU and implored the Government to intervene in order to ensure greater transparency from the union.
When this emerged last Monday, and the letter was published in full, the Union responded swiftly with an ill-considered statement of their own which not only questioned the players’ right to take such action but also saw it as an attempt to influence the two reviews.
Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers took a dim view of this response, suggesting the Union could have take a more “conciliatory” approach.
In confirming its intention “to fully publish the two independent reviews currently being undertaken into women’s rugby”, the union’s statement added: “The review of the Rugby World Cup 2021 qualification campaign and the wider review of the Women in Rugby Action Plan are both being undertaken by Amanda Bennett and her colleagues at FairPlay (Ltd).
“The decision was made at the December meeting of the Union Committee where the IRFU committed to transparency in this review process.
“The IRFU expects that the initial review, into the RWC’21 qualification campaign, will be completed by Amanda Bennett, and her colleagues, in January, while the wider review is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2022 (subject to completion).
“The IRFU wishes to assure all those devoted to rugby, including the players who issued the recent letter to Government Ministers, that the situation that developed, particularly in the last week, is regrettable and we will work tirelessly to mend and build the relationship between the Union and our players.
“We are committed to the development of the women’s game, from grassroots to elite level, to provide the opportunity for girls and women to enjoy lifelong participation in rugby.
“The IRFU will seek to meet a delegation from the women’s group early in the New Year and assures them that their views will be listened to and fed into future planning.”
The statement concluded by saying: “The IRFU hope to meet with Minister Chambers next week.”