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IRFU apologises and makes commitment to women's game but won't publish report

IRFU CEO Kevin Potts says they are committed to developing the women's game in Ireland and has ap...



IRFU CEO Kevin Potts says they are committed to developing the women's game in Ireland and has apologised if players felt they were ignored in the past. 

This comes following the IRFU's decision on Friday not to fully publish a report into the Irish team's failure to qualify for the last World Cup.

The 30 recommendations of the report, which the IRFU say they have accepted, have been published, but the report in full has not.

As per these recommendations, a further €1 million will be invested annually into the women's game, bringing the annual budget to €4million.

Also, a dedicated Head of Women's Performance and Pathways is to be appointed to oversee the game, while Gemma Crowley has been announced as Team Programme Manager for the Women's 15s side.

All of this also comes after a group of players wrote to the Irish Government last year saying they had "lost all trust and confidence in the IRFU and its leadership after historic failings."

Speaking at a press conference on Friday afternoon, the IRFU's Chief Executive Kevin Potts denied the idea that players were afraid to voice their concerns or speak out.

"The [communication] channels are wide open as far as I'm concerned. I have an open channel of communication with the players and that is going to remain in place, certainly for as long as I'm CEO.

"I've built a very good relationship over the last number of months.

"It certainly wouldn't be our policy or my policy of the IRFU's policy to be asking people not to speak.

"As I look to the future and some of the recommendations or changes - we talk about collaboration or ensuring players have a voice and that there are annual check-ins to take their views and to make sure that the culture and everything is working holistically as we go forward.

"As far as I'm concerned I'm always available to speak to players or anybody. I spoke to some players this week and I have an ongoing and open invitation to the players I've been dealing with to speak to me anytime they want."

Anthony Eddy left his role as the IRFU's Director of Seven and Women's Rugby on Thursday.

There was much speculation that this was directly linked to the report and its recommendations.

Kevin Potts has denied this;

"Anthony Eddy's old role is gone. We'll have a Head of Women's High Performance and we've to think about if there'll be a role over 7s aswell.

"They [the report and his departure] are not linked at all.

"Anthony informed the IRFU of his intention to pursue other opportunities as per his statement and we wish him well."

Meanwhile, he says Performance Director David Nucifora will not be publicly commenting on the findings of the report.

"David has worked away on putting in the implementation status that you have today.

"This is so important to the IRFU that I as CEO am dealing with this today and David is getting on with the tasks that need to be done."

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams named a 38-player squad for this year's TikTok Women's Six Nations on Thursday.

Cliodhna Moloney and Sene Naoupu were the most high-profile players to miss out on inclusion.

Moloney was one of the most vocal critics of the IRFU last year, describing Anthony Eddy's comments as 'slurry.'

Potts was asked on Friday if this and her not being included were linked;

"I guess the simple question is Greg McWilliams has selected his squad, he selected it on form and I guess any questions as to why players are in or out of the squad can be addressed by him in due course.

"[I can] Absolutely guarantee that is not the case, it's form."

Concluding the press conference, Potts reiterated the IRFU's commitment to the women's game and its development in this country.

"What I can say for certain is that there is the total commitment of the IRFU to the women's game, I can say that with certainty.

"The IRFU committee is totally committed to getting all of this right.

"The culture that was referred to in the players' letter; I'd like to believe that they have more confidence in that now, it'll probably take some more time I guess but I can assure of the total commitment of not just myself but of the union committee to the women's game.

"They are fully behind everything we're doing.

"I apologise for the lack of any confidence or perceived lack of interest that the IRFU has had in the women's game.

"Going forward, if they felt they weren't being listened to; they are now and I will assure that continues."

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