IRFU aim to win at least nine trophies by 2023 11 months ago

IRFU aim to win at least nine trophies by 2023

The IRFU are aiming to win at least nine different trophies by 2023 as part of their Strategic Plan.

The union aim to win two or more Six Nations titles, two or more European titles, two or more PRO14 titles and a semi-final finish at both the 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups.

Meanwhile in the women's game, the IRFU aim for a top six finish at the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup, a Women's Six Nations title and also to win two sevens World Series tournaments.

They're lofty expectations by the union but they have hauled in a European Cup, three PRO12/14 Rugby titles and three Six Nations titles over the last five years.

"I think in any plan you put together; if you're not ambitious, don't come to work," said IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora.

"Not in this business anyway. We've got to be ambitious. For us they're our minimum bench marks. Right at the start we want to win everything, we do, but every time we roll out something it's about being the best we can be and winning it.

"We are going to aim to have [two semi-finals spots] those as our minimum bench marks for the men's team, obviously, but we want to win them.

"We're here to win things and that's what we've got to do. That's what Joe [Schmidt] and the staff and everyone is striving to achieve in Japan."

Schmidt has had a monumental impact on Irish Rugby over the course of this decade and has won three Six Nations titles, two European Cups and a PRO12 title during that span.

The New Zealander's contract with the IRFU expires after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he is currently being linked with taking on the All Blacks job with current head coach Steve Hansen set to step down from his role after next year's tournament.

However, Nucifora is confident that Ireland have a sustainable structure in placewwhere the men's national team can still thrive even if Schmidt decides to move on next year.

"Look a lot of the success is down to Joe," added Nucifora.

"He's done a lot of really good things in the Irish game, not just in the national team, but part of his strength is carrying those things on and carrying them forward.

"Any good programme has to be sustainable and a lot of the work that we do is about that, it's about being sustainable and regardless of whether Joe stays or goes he'd be the first one to tell you that he'd be confident that we've built something that is sustainable."

As part of their plan, the IRFU also plan to grow the amount players playing the game to 210,000 males (up from 194,000), grow the number of adult teams to 1,900 and have 90% of their coaches from U14s and above accredited.

They also plan to grow the number of women playing the game to 5,000 active players (1,341 active players at present), the number of young girls playing the game to 6,500 active players (2,500 active players at present) and the number of coaches in the female game from 179 to over 450 by 2023. Referees are also targeted with the union looking to increase the number of female referees from 12 to over 80.

They're very ambitious expectations from the union but IRFU Rugby Development Director Scott Walker believes the IRFU can achieve the targets through the use of resources.

"There's a number of things we can do but the first we have got to do is being public about our pathways and we haven't been too good at telling the stories there," said Walker.

"The second point is that we need to have them engage in training and activity. The new investment into the digital learning system through BrightSpace and as well as the HIVE system will give those tools to develop and then with our development officers, and we've done a lot of work with our development officers realigning our development officers with coaching and refereeing, create those opportunities to coach and mentor on the pitchside.

"Part of the investment includes increasing the amount of resource to train and develop referees and coaches."

Walker also added that the Aldi Play Rugby programme and sevens would also be used in the scheme to try and get more kids to play rugby.