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6 Nations

IRFU Announces Operating Surplus Of €5.9 Million For Year Ended 31st July 2022

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The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has reported an operating surplus of €5.9 million for the year ending 31st July 2022 following Friday afternoon’s EGM at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

The result was a more positive financial outcome than had been anticipated, coming against a budgeted deficit of €4.9m. By way of comparison, this year’s result compares with combined losses of almost €47m in the preceding two years. The full report is available at the bottom of this article.

IRFU Chief Executive Kevin Potts said:

“Our key message today, is that in relation to the finances of the IRFU, following a torrid period due to the impact of Covid-19: the ship has been stabilised. There is however a cost to this, in terms of dilution of the IRFU’s assets, together with a negative impact on our future cash flow, but we have survived and are now endeavouring to rebuild our financial resources to pre Covid-19 levels.

Kevin Potts 11/11/2022

IRFU CEO Kevin Potts – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

“The reasons for the better than anticipated financial out-turn this year are based, in large part, on some key factors:

“Firstly, the earlier than anticipated opening of our grounds to full attendances at Internationals from last November onwards. Secondly, the receipt, in arrears, in December 2021, of €18 million of special assistance from Government for Covid-19 Income losses across Irish Rugby during 2021. Without the receipt of this grant, the Union would have reported an operating deficit of over €9m for the year. I want to acknowledge and thank the Government for their critical support during Covid-19, without which rugby, as we know it on this island, would have struggled to survive.

“In addition, the exceptional item of €44.6 million, which relates to the proceeds received, and receivable in coming years, by the Union in respect of the CVC and Six Nations deal. This significant sum has been received at a most opportune time, given the damage inflicted by Covid-19 on our financial reserves. However, it has to be understood that this comes at a future cost, in terms of a permanent reduction by 14% of the IRFU’s future Six Nations and Autumn Nations Series income.

“The €66 million cash reserves in the bank, is made up of significant future earnings including the pre-sale of 10-year tickets; the monies paid up front for these tickets have to be honoured over the next decade; together with proceeds from the URC and Six Nations CVC transactions. The sale of these assets will result in a permanent reduction in the IRFU’s share of income from these tournaments into the future.”

Natasja Behan 20/8/2022

Ireland’s Natasja Behan  – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Akito Iwamoto

With details of the Women in Rugby Report set to be announced in the coming weeks, the IRFU’s direct investment in the Women’s game is now over €5.5 million per annum, up €2.1 million on what was budgeted in previous years. This includes the introduction of professional contracts for Women’s XVs players for the first time in the Union’s history.

In relation to the Club game, the IRFU directed €6.5 million of the Government grants into clubs during Covid-19, which helped both their survival and the ability to reopen their gates when public health restrictions were lifted. CEO Kevin Potts also confirmed the return to previous levels of investment in the Club and Schools game programmes to almost €12 million in 2022/23.

Potts concluded: “Through their enormous hard work our Men’s National team have reached the number one ranking in the world and in a magnificent Test match last weekend defeated the World Champions, South Africa, our male Under-20 side are the Grand Slam champions, our Men’s 7s team recently took a bronze medal in the Rugby World Cup, and the last seasons Energia All-Ireland League Men’s and Women’s finals were outstanding advertisements for our club game. These successes highlight that there is much to be positive about in Irish Rugby at this time, but we continue to recognise the enormous body of work, across a range of challenges, still to be tackled.

“Though the IRFU is forecasting deficits for the next three years, it is the IRFU’s firm intention that Irish Rugby will continue to operate on a sustainable basis, only spending funds that it either has or can predict with relative certainty. This makes for challenging times, but I do believe Irish Rugby will rise to these challenges.”

IRFU Annual Report

IRFU Annual Report – Accounts Section

IRFU Annual Report – Non Accounts Section

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


6 Nations

Ireland’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations Home Games To Be Played At Musgrave Park

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Ireland’s home matches in the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations will be played at Musgrave Park.

The Cork venue has been the home of the Ireland U20s since 2019 and has become a real fortress in recent seasons, with Ireland Women also enjoying huge support there when they defeated Italy at Musgrave Park in last year’s Six Nations.

Greg McWilliams‘ side open their 2023 Championship against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, 25th March (2.15pm) before welcoming France to Cork in Round 2 on Saturday, 1st April (3.15pm). After a rest weekend, Ireland will be on the road again, going head-to-head with Italy in Parma on Saturday, 15th April (4.45pm).

World Cup finalists England will visit Musgrave Park in Round 4 on Saturday, 22nd April (2.15pm) and the Championship will conclude with a trip to Edinburgh to take on Scotland at the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday, 29th April (7.30pm).

“We received huge home support during last year’s Six Nations and we’re excited to make Cork our home base for the 2023 Championship,” McWilliams said. “We enjoyed a good day out against Italy last year, with the people of Cork coming out to support the team and we will be hoping for more of the same in 2023, as two of the best teams in women’s rugby come to visit.”

Ticket details for Ireland’s home matches at Musgrave Park will be announced in due course.

TikTok Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2023:

  • Wales v Ireland, Saturday 25 March, Cardiff Arms Park, 2.15pm
  • Ireland v France, Saturday 1 April, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm
  • Italy v Ireland, Saturday 15 April, Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, 4.45pm
  • Ireland v England, Saturday 22 April, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm
  • Scotland v Ireland, Saturday 29 April, DAM Health Stadium, 7.30pm.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Leading Rugby Stakeholders Unite To Consider Future Of Rugby

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Rugby’s major stakeholders have united to consider the short and long-term insights and priorities for ensuring the sport is a relevant, accessible and attractive sport for all as it grows over the next decade.

The World Rugby Shape of the Game conference, hosted in London, gathered leading coaching, playing, officiating, medical and event owner minds to consider how to build a better game for all, focusing on safety and spectacle. Underpinning that mission is the ongoing prioritisation of player welfare, while fostering an environment that is simpler, more accessible and more attractive.

It will be followed by similar conferences on the elite women’s 15s and community games as the sport looks to growth opportunities over the next decade. The process will also consider fan views and general sport and entertainment considerations to create a holistic approach to the future of the sport.

Over two days, delegates considered the global welfare landscape, including reinforcing the data regarding the relative safety of the community and age-grade game, global playing trends and the role of match officials, the narrative around the sport with all participants focused on the bigger picture.

The conference identified key areas for further exploration:

• Focus on the fan: Insights from fans and broadcasters to inform the longer-term development of the sport as an entertainment product

• Speed up the game: Focus on interventions and innovations to reduce stoppages, increase continuity and the rhythm of the game

• Support match officials: Provide them with the tools to perform their role to their best ability, consider TMO intervention reductions

• Underpin with player welfare: Continue to implement evidence-based strategies to mitigate head injuries and overall injuries in the sport

• Change the narrative: The community game is the lifeblood of the sport, the risk of injury is much less than that of the elite game, focus on the benefits while managing the risks

World Rugby will take away the considerations and insights for further exploration to prioritise areas that can be implemented in the short term without changing law ahead of Rugby World Cup 2023.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said:

“As a sport, a movement and a family, we must always challenge ourselves to be better. That means taking time to consider what fans and players want the future of our sport to be, a future where more people want to play and support the game, where injury risk is reducing and where all involved in the game have their say.

“This conference was the first step towards a reimagination of our sport. The full and frank contributions from a wide spectrum of disciplines gives us plenty to consider and to move forward with through our structures. I would like to thank all participants for taking time out at a busy time to unite, collaborate and consider our future.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

England side to face Springboks

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England host the Springboks at Twickenham Stadium in their final Autumn Nations Series game on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).

Manu Tuilagi will make his 50th appearance for England at outside centre, having made his debut for England against Wales in August 2011. Owen Farrell will again captain the side at inside centre.

Marcus Smith is at fly half and Jack van Poortvliet is at scrum half. Tommy Freeman comes in at right wing, Jonny May is at left wing and Freddie Steward is full back.

Jamie George (hooker) and Mako Vunipola join fellow prop Kyle Sinckler in two changes to the starting front row. Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill stay at lock. Alex Coles comes in at flanker with Tom Curry, while Billy Vunipola is No.8.

Last weekend’s double-try scorer Will Stuart is named as a finisher along with Luke Cowan-Dickie, David Ribbans, Sam Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade and vice-captains Ellis Genge and Jack Nowell.

“This is our last game of the autumn and our chance to continue building on the improvements we have made throughout the matches,” said Jones. “We have made steady progress from game-to-game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand.

“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions. We’re going out there to light the crowd up. The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

Squad

Starters

15. Freddie Steward

14. Tommy Freeman

13. Manu Tuilagi

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Jonny May

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Mako Vunipola

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Jonny Hill

6. Alex Coles

7. Tom Curry

8. Billy Vunipola

Finishers

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie

17. Ellis Genge

18. Will Stuart

19. David Ribbans

20. Sam Simmonds

21. Ben Youngs

22. Henry Slade

23. Jack Nowell


Images & Content from England Rugby
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