It gives me great pleasure to write to you for the first time in the capacity of President of the Irish Rugby Football Union for the upcoming season, 2023/24.
It is my great honour to represent my family, my club Cork Constitution FC and my home province Munster as President of the IRFU and I will continue to work hard to represent everyone across the rugby community in the months to come. I would like to pay tribute to our departing President John Robinson, a friend and colleague who worked tirelessly to support the game. John held office with distinction and Irish rugby is indebted to him for his positive stewardship across the 2022/23 season.
The 2022/23 season was a fantastic one for the Union, both domestically and internationally. This is in no small part thanks to the support given to teams and Clubs from everyone involved in the game. The 2023/24 season is already shaping up to be a memorable one with so much for rugby supporters to look forward to.
The Club scene is the bedrock of our game with Clubs continuing to develop and nurture talent that feed our academies and underage systems. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the coaches and volunteers who give up their time to train or support these endeavours. Your commitment does not go unnoticed, and the Union is very grateful for your dedication.
The Energia AIL leagues for both women and men continue to go from strength to strength with increasing attendances and coverage across all forms of media. There are still opportunities for us to grow the domestic game and embed our Clubs in more local communities, but we are thankful for the support Energia have brought as the title sponsor.
For the first time ever our women’s Sevens team will take part in an Olympic games in Paris next summer, joined also by our men’s side. To qualify for the games is a wonderful achievement and hopefully our Olympians can inspire a future generation.
Our men’s international side are busy preparing for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, buoyed by their Grand Slam achievements. I am sure clubhouses across the country will be thronged with supporters keen to cheer on the team and I wish them well.
A new era dawns for our women’s XV team with the appointment of a new Head Coach in Scott Bemand. Scott is an exceptionally strong candidate, and he will no doubt bring a new dimension to the development of our senior team. Our pathways continue to develop with additional resourcing and the setting up of regional talent hubs, which will no doubt bear fruit in the years to come.
A new season brings new opportunities and a chance for a fresh start. Our rugby values are a great source of pride to us, and we must ensure that the values of our game, respect, inclusivity, integrity, fun and excellence continue to be at the forefront of all our endeavours.
I look forward to touring the country to visit as many clubs and schools as possible and to meet so many people who are essential to the running of our game.
I would like to wish all clubs and their members the very best for the season ahead.