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IRFU chief Philip Browne apologises for Donnybrook fiasco as union provides report updates

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Philip Browne

Philip Browne

Philip Browne

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has reiterated the union's apology for the state of the changing facilities on offer to the Connacht players ahead of their interprovincial clash with Ulster at Energia Park in Donnybrook in September.

The IRFU has completed its report into the incident which caused a huge stir at the time.

It found that there was a lack of responsibility for organisation of the final round of Vodafone women's interprovincial fixture and that there was "a lack of personnel and resources on the ground to properly manage the weekend fixtures.

As a result, the IRFU will draft a new set of guidelines for the running of the Women's Interprovincial Championship, while there will be additional training and support for event and facilities management staff and volunteers.

Additionally, the IRFU will seek to appoint a dedicated female player liaison officer at each of the provincial branches to "support and assist players to deal confidentially with any issues they may have in relation fo facilities".

Browne accepted that the facilities had fallen well short of what was expected.

“Everyone was appalled by the conditions the players had to endure," Browne said in a statement.

"From the moment we became aware of the issues we apologised on behalf of all involved and resolved to ensure this would not happen again, I want to strongly echo that commitment once again today.

"A significant amount of work went into the delivery of what was a highly entertaining interpro series. However, a series of errors has overshadowed the games, we all take responsibility for such failings and vow to do better by implementing the recommendations of this review.”

Meanwhile, the union has appointed former Wales international Amanda Bennett ad an independent consultant to conduct a review into the preparation, participation and performance of the Women's international side in their failed bid to reach the World Cup last month.

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She will be joined by Kevin Bowring and Helen Philips on the panel with "the overarching aim to learn from any of the issues that led to Ireland failing to qualify and to identify areas of improvement that will support future campaigns.

The IRFU say that review will take between eight and nine weeks, with the team scheduled to play Japan and the United States next month and questions still surrounding the future of head coach Adam Griggs.

Bennett will also take part in the 'Women in Rugby Action Plan Review' which is ongoing under the chairmanship of John Robinson who is a Senior Vice President of the IRFU and includes Browne, Su Carty and Fiona Steed.

As revealed in the Irish Independent earlier this month, this review will look at the alignment of the domestic game and high performance areas, a review of the player pathway and the women's competition structure.

The review will be completed in early 2022.


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