Rugby Giving Voice to Youth

The IRFU’s Youth Council are to hold a series of club consultations across the four provinces in the spring and summer of 2019.

It is the latest example of the increasing voice which young people are being given in shaping the future of the sport and is to be applauded.

The GAA run a similar youth-focused element of the Annual Sky sponsored Coaching Conference in January.

The voice of youth across the business of sport is also given voice through our own 30 Under 30 initiative which is almost complete now for 2019 and which will bring this year’s and last year’s cohorts together in the summer to explore a number of issues that are relevant to young people making their way in sport.

The Council was founded in 2017 as a way to ensure the voices of young people and rugby players are listened to in Irish Rugby. 10 young people aged between 17 and 23 currently sit on the council.

Year One of their three-year term focused on establishing scope and terms of reference. This began with an open forum to identify key issues concerning young people in Irish rugby.

Their findings took in a broad number of areas including club culture, resources, competition structures, promotion, school/club links, inclusivity, progression and development.

One area identified for immediate attention was the issue of retention of age grade players.

Over the coming months, the IRFU Youth Council are to hold a series of club consultations across the four provinces. These consultations will provide peer-led insight into how best to address what is most important to young rugby players in Ireland.

They will also expand on some key findings of a participation survey, which the council contributed to.

A soon to be published report by the ESRI on rugby participation will also be discussed.

Findings and conclusions from the club sessions will be collated into a resource booklet to be shared with key stakeholders.

“The council has been hard at work since we first came into being in November 2017,” said Council Vice Chair Meabh Lewis.

“We have a clear aim to address one of the biggest issues concerning Irish Rugby at present and we are looking forward to opening up the conversation around player retention to clubs across the four provinces.”

The consultations will be peer-led which gives us a unique opportunity to hear from rugby players who face the biggest issues when it comes to retention. Anyone who takes part will have a big say in the future of our sport and we’re looking forward to talking to as many people as possible.”

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