Saturday 21 July 2018

IRFU strongly defends call to turn down women's tour of Australia

Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Ireland's Sene Naoupu. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

David Nucifora has strongly defended the IRFU's decision not to take up an invitation from Rugby Australia to have a women's tour running concurrently with the current men's series between Ireland and the Wallabies.

The union's performance director said that there were rugby and financial reasons behind the call.

Coming on the back of the outrage that greeted the role of women's head coach being advertised on a part-time basis, current and former players including Sene Naoupu have expressed disappointment that the offer was not taken up.

"There was some recent speculation about touring opportunities down here that didn't really accurately represent the invitation that was received," he said at a media briefing in Sydney.

"The dates on offer didn't fit with the women's plan, we need to be very considerate with our current playing resources and the best use of our financial resources.

"We do need to grow the whole women's game. At the moment, our staff and players are just finishing preparing for the (Sevens) World Series and the World Cup and we wouldn't have a full list of players available if we were coming down here, even before we look at the financial cost of sending a team down here.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
IRFU performance director David Nucifora. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

"The invitation was given to suit the Australian programme more than the Irish programme, Australia are playing the New Zealand girls next month and they are looking for some opposition because there is not much opposition for women's rugby in the southern hemisphere and they thought it would be a good idea to tag along with the men's tour.

"It's obviously a lot more complicated than that, there's a lot more things involved to make sure it suits our requirements and not just the Australian requirements.

"Our focus at the elite end of the game is on playing two Test matches in November this year, we didn't play any last year, so rather than coming down here our focus is on giving the girls two matches.

"They'll play two internationals in November and that's a far better preparation for us leading into the Six Nations, it suits our requirements much better than a team that wouldn't be at full strength coming down here.

"I'm not surprised (by the reaction) but it's like people who comment on anything without all the facts, it was probably sensationalised a little bit."

Nucifora said the strategic review into the future direction of the women's game would be finalised in September, with a focus on developing "better pathways, competitions (and) coaching standards to create a far bigger talent pool to drive competition for places at elite level"

Irish Independent

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