Gillian McDarby, Head of Women’s Performance & Pathways, outlined the progress in the women’s programme with new appointments and structural changes. McDarby confirmed that there will be ongoing transitions between 15 and 7’s players for competitions such as WXV and the 2024 Six Nations in line with the Union’s strategic priorities.
McDarby also outlined how the first full year of a national pathway for U18s & U20s-23s, development of a university partnership and setting up the 7s Comp structure is underway across all four provinces since August.
Scott Bemand, former Red Roses lead coach, outlined his plans for the upcoming WXV tournament in Dubai along with his vision for the future of Irish rugby.
Bemand has earlier this week announced his first squad for a tournament which included seven uncapped players.
Bemand outlined that from the outset of the interview process for the role it was clear the IRFU had a real drive to make this a leading program. He outlined that change requires a mindset and expertise and that the process had begun to make Ireland proud again.
Bemand outlined that the 3-year aim is to qualify for the 2025 Rugby World Cup in England but that the longer-term aspiration is to be a contender for the 2029 tournament in Australia.
At the briefing Bemand also named Sam Monaghan and Edel McMahon as Co-Captains for the upcoming campaign. Monaghan and McMahon previously were teammates at Wasps and Edel says she is ”extremely honoured to have been asked by Scott to captain this team alongside her friend Sam” with Sam adding “we have a really clear goal and some good momentum over the past two weeks with the direction we are heading both off and off the pitch. We can’t wait to get to Dubai.”
Addressing the issue of a disappointing Six Nations campaign in 2023 McDarby confirmed a leadership and culture review had taken place with programmes now in place to drive and sustain high performance. To facilitate this a Culture & Leadership lead, Sean Ryan, had been appointed to work with the team. Sean has worked with high performance teams previously, most notably last season with the Munster Rugby Coaching Team.
The IRFU is also pleased to announce that recruitment will shortly open to fill the three independent positions on its Women’s Game Advisory Group. The recommendation to add three independent external experts in women’s sport came in the Women in Rugby Report released in December 2022.
Ireland travel to Dubai on October 6th and play in the WXV3:
• 13th October versus Kazakhstan 19.30 (local time) 16.30 Irish time
• 21st October versus Colombia 17.00 (local time) 14.00 Irish time
• 28th October versus Spain 17.00 (local time) 14.00 Irish time
All games will be streamed for free on World Rugby’s RugbyPass platform.