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Reports into women's rugby will not be publicly published, confirms IRFU CEO

Philip Browne believes the club game needs serious attention.

Ireland players celebrate last Friday's win over the US.
Ireland players celebrate last Friday's win over the US.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IRFU CEO Philip Browne has confirmed that the reports on the two ongoing reviews into women’s rugby will not be made publicly available.

Instead, the union will continue its policy of releasing “key findings” in media briefings.

The IRFU launched an independent review into Ireland Women’s recent failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup, while there is also a broader review taking place to examine how the pathways in Irish women’s rugby are working or otherwise.

But Browne, who is retiring from his position with the IRFU at the end of this year, said the two documents will not be released.

“We don’t make the reports available and we haven’t done that in the past with the men’s game either,” said Browne.

“What we will do is make the key findings available. People undertake contributions to reviews like this on the basis of anonymity and we have to respect that.

“The key issue here is what are the key findings and what are the key recommendations and then it is up to the union to work out how do they actually deliver on that.”

Asked whether the IRFU could simply remove individuals’ names and then publish the full reports, Browne insisted that won’t be the case.

“The position is that we don’t make reports available for publication. We publish the findings and recommendations.

“I would bring you back to the report after the 2011 World Cup which was produced by the English team [and then leaked in the media] and that caused absolute mayhem and terrible embarrassment for a number of individuals so you can’t just go down that path.

“The key thing is, what are the key findings and what are the key recommendations and that is generally in the executive summary in the report. That’s more or less what will be published.”

Browne hopes to see the review into the World Cup qualification failure concluded before Christmas, although the wider-ranging review will take longer.

philip-browne IRFU CEO Philip Browne. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

He is of the view that the club game needs serious attention within women’s rugby.

“We need to get the structures right, particularly in the club game, and get the pathways right,” said Browne.

“That’s actually where a huge amount of effort is ongoing at the moment. If we get that right and we can start to get a clear pathway for girls who want to rise through from mini-rugby through to the international game, then you have to have a clear pathway available to them.

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“We need to make sure that everyone is aligned to that strategy, it needs to be tweaked to ensure that, and adjusted in any way to reflect the new normal post-Covid.”

Some senior Irish rugby clubs don’t currently have women’s teams and Browne agreed that this needed to be addressed.

“It all needs to be looked at,” he said. “Even the facilities, something as basic as that. We know the issue we had with the facilities in Donnybrook – it was an unfortunate series of silly mistakes, largely due to the issues around Covid.

“Even within that, most clubs have been built on the back of the male game over generations and have they all got the facilities to be able to cater for the female game? And if not, let’s find out what the deficit is and if there is anything we can do about it.

“The study has to be wide-ranging and it has to involve the clubs, they are fundamental to it. If we don’t get the club structure right and the competition structures right at club level, we’re on a hiding to nothing.

“That’s where, I’d imagine, a fair degree of the focus will be.”

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