Wigglesworth gets key IRFU development role
THE IRFU have appointed Eddie Wigglesworth as Director of Rugby Development in succession to Ray Southam.Southam resigned his position earlier in the year and has since returned to New Zealand although his son Russell remains on to play with Buccaneers and is currently a member of the Connacht senior side.
But for the 47-year-old Wigglesworth it represents a fresh challenge as he moves across Dublin 4. He now resigns his position as Chief Executive of the Leinster Branch (which he has held since February 1994) and moves his base from Donnybrook to Lansdowne Road.
His appointment to the top post sees a large part of the IRFU's strategic development plan now in place.
Wigglesworth will be responsible for leading, advising and developing IRFU policy and activity relating to the broadening of the base of the game in Ireland.
He will work closely with the Directors of coaching in each of the provinces -: Mike Ruddock (Leinster), Declan Kidney (Munster), Glen Ross (Connacht) and Harry Williams (Ulster).
In addition he will oversee the work of the Provincial Development managers -: Phil Lawlor (Leinster), Mark McDermott (Munster), Tommy Conneely (Connacht) and Rab Gregg (Ulster). Hendrick Kruger the National Youth Development Manager and John Murphy the National Schools Development Manager will also come under his office as well as the various Regional Development Officers throughout each of the provinces.
All told it represents a sensible and, one hopes, effective network from ground level up.
President of the IRFU Noel Murphy said last night: ``We are delighted to announce Eddie Wigglesworth's appointment. He brings tremendous enthusiasm, administrative ability and coaching experience to the Rugby Development Department.``
Leinster's loss is most certainly the IRFU's gain. The search now begins for a new chief executive for the Leinster Branch.
On a personal level I warmly welcome Wigglesworth's appointment. I have known him since our schooldays in that august rugby academy on the Rathmines Road. As a robust wingforward he won every honour for Leinster from schoolboy through under 19 and under 21 and on to senior for the province.
He won one league and three senior cup medals with St Marys. In addition he coached 'Marys to that memorable All Ireland League showdown with Young Munster at Lansdowne Rd in 1993. The Templeville club going on to lift the provincial cup a month later.
As an administrator he is enthusiastic and open minded. He may not speak with an accent hatched south of the equator but his rugby pedigree is second to none.
He was appointed Chief Executive Officer for the province because of his ``management skills, strong rugby orientation and because of his capability of over seeing the management of all aspects of the Branch's affair.``