It is my privilege as President of the Irish Rugby Football Union to extend my best wishes to all members of City of Armagh Rugby Club.
Many congratulations to Gary Bell on his election as President and I hope he and all members experience a successful and enjoyable 2016-17 season across all the club’s team grades.
I am pleased for this opportunity to acknowledge John Callaghan, himself a former President of the IRFU and the work he has done as Chairman of the IRFU’s Charitable Trust for seriously injured players.
Special good wishes for this season’s 27th staging of the Ulster Bank League, for which the IRFU advises clubs of some new initiatives, having considered feedback from senior clubs and responses to a player survey. Following its successful introduction last season, the remodelled structure of five divisions of 10 teams, playing home and away, culminating in promotional and relegation play-offs, will remain in place until at least the end of the 2017-18 season.
These decisions are introduced in line with the Union’s desire to further develop the status and attractiveness of Ireland’s premier inter-club championship. Bear in mind that it is our collective determination that our club game endures as the bedrock of Irish rugby. Naturally, the professional game is the shop window, but your Union Committee is steadfast in its resolve that the grassroots will always be the spine.
To that end the IRFU has allocated a further €1.2 million euros to the domestic game for the 2016-17 season. This brings the total investment in grassroots rugby to over €10 million euros, representing a 23% increase in the domestic game budget since 2015.
On behalf of the IRFU, I also warmly acknowledge Ulster Bank for their greatly appreciated partnership in the IRFU’s Community Rugby Programme and its wide and popular activities of which the Ulster Bank League is a key element.
Meantime, best wishes to all at The Palace Grounds.
President – IRFU