Jack Crowley, Shane Daly, Max Deegan, Joe McCarthy and Scott Penny present the cheque to Heidedal Children’s Orphanage.
The prize money from Sunday’s Toyota Challenge match against the Cheetahs has been donated to the Heidedal Children’s Orphanage in Bloemfontein by the Emerging Ireland squad.
The players and management visited the Orphanage last week during their Tour to South Africa and after beating the Cheetahs on Sunday, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly, Max Deegan, Joe McCarthy and Scott Penny presented the cheque for 250,000 Rand/€14,000 to the Orphanage’s staff.
The Orphanage houses, cares and educates children on the outskirts of Bloemfontein and the donation will support the building of a new housing unit at the centre.
In another historic moment for Irish Rugby, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad, sponsored by TritonLake, have today realised their Olympic dream by securing the fourth and final automatic qualification berth through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The team captained by Lucy Mulhall defeated Fiji 10-5 at the France Sevens in Toulouse on Sunday morning to ensure they will finish in fifth position in the overall 2023 Women’s World Series standings, and join Australia, New Zealand, USA and hosts France as the fifth team to book their place at next summer’s Games in Paris.
By creating history on a magical morning at Stade Ernest Wallon, Ireland Women registered another major moment for the National Sevens Programme, following on from the Ireland Men’s qualification for Tokyo 2020, and the succession of World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens podium finishes.
It is the culmination of years of hard work, the Ireland Women’s Sevens squad first embarking on their quest for Olympic qualification back in 2015, and now following near misses for Rio and Tokyo, secure their golden ticket to sport’s global showpiece next summer.
The Olympic Rugby Sevens competition runs from 24-30 July 2024 at the Stade de France in Paris.
IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts said: “On behalf of the IRFU and the wider Irish rugby community, I would like to offer my congratulations to the players, led by inspirational Captain, Lucy Mulhall, and management of the Ireland Women’s Sevens team on their qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“A huge amount of hard work has gone on behind the scenes for the last number of years to reach this historic milestone and it is testament to the dedication, talent and resilience of the players that they have qualified for the Olympics.
“Olympic Qualification was a stated aim for the IRFU in this cycle and I would like to pay tribute to all in our High-Performance Department, and everyone connected with the team for this seismic day, not just for rugby, but for Irish sport in general.”
There was no shortage of drama on the final weekend of the 2023 Women’s World Series as the race for Olympic qualification went down to the wire. Ireland, Fiji and Great Britain were all in the running to claim that final berth, but with all three teams falling at the quarter-final stage on Saturday and GB dropping out of the race, it meant Ireland and Fiji went head-to-head in a Paris 2024 shoot-out on Sunday morning.
Not only do Ireland Women qualify for the Olympics for the first time but they become the first Irish Rugby team to do so automatically through the World Series, with Temple Jones’ side producing strong performances in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton and Sydney earlier in the season to put themselves in a good position heading into the final weekend in Toulouse.
Pool wins over the hosts and Brazil ensured a passage through to the quarter-finals in the south of France and although Australia proved too strong in the last eight, Ireland rallied and produced when it mattered most to achieve their ultimate ambition and a place at Paris 2024.
IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts spoke to media today as part of the announcement of the new WNTS Pathway Staff and Women In Rugby overview and gave the following remarks:
“I would like to start by acknowledging the tremendous efforts of Nichola Fryday and the Ireland team in the Women’s Six Nations Campaign. The players put everything they had into representing their country, and Irish Rugby could not have asked any more of them. While this was not their time, we are confident that their time will come.
“The IRFU accepts responsibility for the challenges in Irish women’s rugby, and will, as a matter of good practice, continually assess and re-assess how we can improve.
As I have said before, we are on a journey, and while there may be setbacks along the way, our commitment to the women’s game, and, to women in our game- is unwavering.
Since the publication of the Women In Rugby Report last December, there has been positive progress on both fronts, but there is still much work to do. All recommendations have been or are being implemented, For example
We have recently appointed our first head of EDI, Anne-Marie Hughes; A key objective is the development, training and implementation of best practice policies and protocols to ensure Irish rugby is as safe, inclusive, and welcoming as possible.
Later this month, we will also appoint a new Chair to lead the revised Women’s Advisory Group, which will have oversight of the delivery of the new Women’s Strategic Plan; This will include for the first time at least 3 independent members who have expertise in Women’s Rugby and/or Women’s Sport.
We are also developing policies and reporting mechanisms to provide confidential channels for anyone involved in the game who has experienced discrimination or harassment.
By September, more than a third of the senior management team in the IRFU, will be female, and there is a commitment to bring gender balance of 40% on the Union Committee by the end of this year.
This is just a sample of initiatives underway to maximise performance, access, and participation in the game, and to modernise our governance.
Together with the outputs from ongoing consultation across the game, all recommendations will feed into a new strategic plan for Rugby in Ireland, to be published later this year, which will concentrate on future proofing the game.
Contrary to some commentary, the IRFU’s stewardship of the women’s game is in good hands, comprised of women and men elected from clubs and provinces , ALL of whom care deeply for the game and player well-being at all levels. It also includes 240 , committed staff from 15 nationalities, 35% of whom are Women.
In building rugby long-term, we know it is important to include a cross-section of voices, from diverse backgrounds, education, and perspectives from within and outside the game.
As CEO, I am personally committed – as are my leadership team and the Union Committee -to doing everything in our power to ensure that Irish rugby is as high-performing and inclusive as possible .
We understand that discrimination is an issue for every sport and every business. But unconscious bias and all instances of exclusion are unacceptable, no matter what form they take.The IRFU ‘Women in Rugby’ report, published at the end of 2022, in Chapter 1, Page 1 identified this issue, and set out plans to tackle it. We have been acting on this report since its publication and are determined to ensure as safe, inclusive, and welcoming an environment as possible, in all levels of our game.
When I consider the commitment of volunteers and professional staff to the women’s game, together with increased financial resources and the unwavering support of Irish fans, I see much cause for realistic optimism;
Of course, our National Women’s XVs team is the focal point for many, but beneath that there are green shoots in participation and pathways. For example:
There has been a 10% increase in male and female players, at all levels to almost 250,000 since Covid 19.
The total number of Women’s teams has more than doubled since 2018 from 190 to 470.
There are now almost 43,000 girls each year involved in our Aldi Play Rugby programmes.
And we have more than doubled our direct investment in Women’s Rugby to €6.4m this year.
Have we delivered everything we wanted to? No, we have much more to do, and we would like to fast-track that journey as much as possible, especially now that Covid 19 is well behind us; but progress is being made.
The IRFU also wants to sustain the confidence of our players on this journey. The prize is enormous and will be worth the effort.
I am confident that through effective leadership; collaborative partnerships; and building improved structures, processes, and pathways; more women and girls will have the opportunity; interest; and support to play rugby in Ireland to the best of their ability. This will in turn lead to increasing numbers of girls playing in schools, clubs and colleges and having the opportunity to represent Ireland on the world stage .
In closing, let me reiterate our commitment not just to our players and all in our women’s game, but to being available to you the media, to address your queries on all aspects of the game. We appreciate your interest and the opportunity, as the sport’s governing body in Ireland, to put forward the IRFU’s position on matters critical to our game.
And finally, I would like to wish the Ireland Women’s Sevens team the very best of luck in Toulouse this weekend as they bid to qualify directly for the 2024 Olympic Games. Now that is something we all want to see.”
Connacht Rugby have today announced the appointment of Scott Fardy as the club’s new defence coach on a 2-year deal.
As a player Fardy enjoyed a glittering career across the world, with four seasons at Leinster, five years at Super Rugby side the Brumbies, and three years at Kamaishi Seawaves in Japan. His accolades include four Guinness PRO14 titles and a Heineken Champions Cup with Leinster, where he was also named in the PRO14 Dream Team for three consecutive seasons.
He was also an established international, making 39 appearances for Australia between 2013-2016 and started in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.
Since his retirement in 2021 Fardy has gained coaching experience firstly in Japan with NEC Green Rockets, before moving back to Australia to work with his former Shute Shield club Warringah.
Commenting on the announcement, head coach Pete Wilkins says: “I am delighted to be adding Scott to the Connacht Rugby coaching team for the 2023/24 season and beyond. When we began the recruitment process for a new defence coach, it was important to identify someone with experience of professional rugby at the very highest level, but also a person with the qualities that we want to see in a Connacht Rugby team in the years ahead. In Scott we have recruited someone who absolutely fits that mould on both fronts.
His playing career speaks for itself, and when you chat to anyone who has shared a pitch with him, more often than not the first thing they highlight are his leadership skills and his ability to inspire those around him. Scott understands what it takes to develop a relentless and winning mindset, and with his thorough knowledge of the Irish rugby landscape, is really motivated to help Connacht reach the next level.
These attributes will be a huge benefit to the club and us as a coaching team, and I’m sure the players will be massively excited to learn from and work with Scott in the years ahead.”
Scott Fardy says: “I’m very excited to be joining the coaching team in Connacht. I’ve had some great conversations with Pete and I’m looking forward to making the move and working with all the players and coaches.
My wife and I loved our time in Ireland. Both our boys were born there and it feels like home for us, so the move makes perfect sense for us. I’m also very excited to be coaching in the URC and Europe, which are such challenging and diverse competitions.
There’s a lot of great young talent in the Connacht squad, coupled with some really experienced players. I’m looking forward to working with them and doing my bit to help them go from strength to strength”