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IRFU to take on French spending

Published 14/08/2015

Chief executive Philip Browne, left, was due to discuss Ireland's latest set of accounts
Chief executive Philip Browne, left, was due to discuss Ireland's latest set of accounts

Irish rugby bosses will hand the four provinces an extra 3.2million a year to combat the threat of France's big-spending superpowers.

Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) chief executive Philip Browne admitted the four provinces are "all struggling" to keep pace with their French counterparts.

The IRFU reported a surplus in excess of 8.7million Euro owing to ticket sales, new broadcasting deals and Ireland's two-straight RBS 6 Nations titles.

Browne admitted the IRFU have a duty to keep raising investment into Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster where possible.

"At professional game level it allows to start putting a little bit more money into the academy system and the elite player pool," said Browne.

"What we're trying to do with David Nucifora (performance director) is to try and drive the high-performance system through the age groups so that we have contact with kids at an earlier age.

"It obviously allows us to put a bit more money into the provinces who are all struggling to some extent in terms of financial pressures that are coming to bear because of the money in France.

"We're trying to make them financially viable and sustainable but at the same time we've got to try to put competitive teams on the park.

"So it's about all those things, it's really around the high-performance system and player contracts where that money goes."

In 2013/14 the IRFU posted a surplus of 7.3million Euro. A second-straight surplus leaves the organisation in rude health ahead of next month's Rugby World Cup.

Martin O'Sullivan was enrolled as the 128th Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) president at Friday's annual council meeting at the Aviva Stadium.

Outgoing management committee chairman Finbarr Crowley was lined up to be voted in as a new junior vice president - until Billy Glynn intervened.

Former IRFU president Glynn proposed ex-British Lions star Phil Orr as an alternative.

Glynn decried "flawed mismanagement of the changes in laws" from a recent EGM designed to streamline IRFU governance, before touting Orr's standing in the game as a boon to Ireland's bid to host World Cup 2023.

After a hastily-convened vote Orr was duly elected, leaving Crowley empty-handed when he had expected a vice-presidency as a quid pro quo for his management committee service.

A chastened Crowley addressed the meeting in relinquishing his role as management committee chairman.

"Despite losing out on today's vote I will continue to commit myself to the game of rugby, regardless of what level or where it is," said Crowley.

"From what I can see there are bridges to be mended, so hopefully that can be done to the satisfaction of council."

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