The Game, preparation, player welfare at heart of IRB agenda

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November 17, 2013 (ISN) –  The Eleventh IRB General Assembly got under way in Dublin this morning with the Game, player welfare and the Olympic opportunity the headline agenda items.

Delegates from the IRB’s 118 Member Unions, six Regional Associations, IRB Council and IRB Executive Committee are attending the key biennial meeting, which brings together the global Rugby family for two days of discussion, forums and workshops.

The 2013 IRB General Assembly is running alongside the IRB Medical Commission Conference and the inaugural IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition, which will see a world-class line up of speakers from the Rugby, wider sporting and business fields.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset opened the General Assembly with an address that reflected the progress made over the last two years by a sport now played by a record 5.5 million men, women and children, while looking ahead to the opportunities and challenges facing the Game in a congested global sports and entertainment market.

“This is a pivotal and exciting time for our sport, following an unprecedented period of investment, growth and commercial success. We are presented with golden opportunities to grow participation, to grow audiences from the stadium to the armchair and to establish Rugby as a truly global sport for all.”

“We have exciting opportunities ahead. Rugby World Cups in England in 2015 and Japan in 2019, when the tournament will go to Asia for the first time, will drive growth and profile impetus, while we are already maximising the wonderful opportunity that Olympic Games inclusion has brought to our sport.”

“We need to ensure from the stadium to the armchair that Rugby continues to be compelling to play, watch and engage with. We also need to ensure as we grow that our participation strategies reach and inspire new boys and girls and that we continue to drive forward player welfare, integrity promotion and the fight against doping in sport. But Rugby’s future offers far more opportunities than challenges,” added Lapasset.

Over the two days delegates will discuss how the Game is played, packaged and promoted, consider the latest developments in Olympic participation and solidarity and receive an update from the IRB Medical Commission which has overseen the delivery of key player welfare programmes and policies that are benefitting the Game globally at all levels.

The General Assembly will also witness the handing back to the IRB of the iconic Webb Ellis Cup by Richie McCaw, captain of the reigning Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand, and the induction of legends from British & Irish Lions tours to Australia to the IRB Hall of Fame.