Eddy: Focus remains on both women's sevens and 15s
The IRFU's director of women's and sevens rugby Anthony Eddy has admitted that he was "surprised" by the fallout from the union's decision not to take up an offer from their Australian counterparts to send the women's union team on tour last month.
Doubts have been growing over the future of the women's 15s game, but Eddy insisted that sevens is not being preferred to the bigger code.
The Australian also revealed that while the IRFU's review into the overall women's game was still ongoing, they hoped to have completed it before the end of the summer.
"It didn't suit us at the time, it wasn't short notice, it didn't fit with our programme," Eddy said, with regard to the decision to turn down Australia's offer.
"It was offered in December, if I remember correctly, and turned down in January, if I remember correctly. I was surprised it became an issue for some people."
The men and women's sevens teams are currently gearing up for next week's World Cup in San Francisco, but Eddy insists that the 15s squad has not been forgotten about in all of this.
"It's (review) still a work in progress," he maintained.
Develop "We're continuing to look at the best way to develop the (women's) game and develop the playing base. We need a critical player base to compete on the world stage on a consistent basis. We're hoping for something over the next month, or two months.
"We're not like most countries, we don't have a huge playing pool.
"We're still looking to develop the numbers. Sevens is a great introduction to the game, but we'll always have players playing 15s and sevens. We're not focused on one or the other, we're focused on women's rugby and trying to develop the numbers so we can compete."
Eddy has named two 13-strong squads for the World Cup, with Mark Roche (broken leg) the major causality.
The men will face Chile in the qualifying round, while the women take on England. In recent months, both teams have continued their fine form on the world stage but the World Cup represents a major step up.
"It's massively important to be here, the players recognise how important it is too," Eddy added.
"Outside of the Olympics, the sevens World Cup is the major event. The men have done exceptionally well to qualify, but both teams will go there looking forward to the challenge.
"The results were great but I think the boys have always thought they're capable."