The IRFU has announced that it has ordered an "entirely independent" review into Ireland Women's XV failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Defeat at the hands of Spain and Scotland in last month’s round-robin tournament in Italy meant Ireland missed out on next year's tournament in New Zealand.

At the time the union said it would conduct a standard review "in line with all other national team campaigns" and has now confirmed the details of the investigation, which will be led by former Wales international Amanda Bennett.

"The IRFU has appointed Amanda Bennett, former Welsh Rugby International and Founder of FairPlay, as an independent consultant to conduct an independent review into the preparation, participation and performance of the Ireland Women’s XV during the recent RWC 2021 qualifying campaign," the union said in a statement.

"Amanda will be joined by Kevin Bowring and Helen Philips on the independent review panel.

"The overarching aim will be to learn from any issues that led to Ireland failing to qualify and to identify areas of improvement that will support future international campaigns.

"This review is scheduled to take eight - nine weeks."

The IRFU confirmed to RTÉ Sport that the findings would be made public, but to "ensure anonymity for participants, to allow them to express their views honestly, we do not publish entire documents."

The union has also announced that the review will feed into a "broader structural review" of the implementation of the 2018-2023 Women in Rugby Action Plan.

A top-six placing in the World Cup, qualification for the 2020 Olympics and a Six Nations title were among the stated targets in the original document.

Among the issues to be examined is the alignment between the domestic game and the high-performance teams, player pathways (including 15s, 7s and all other formats of the game) and development, and competition structures.

The group, set up "some months ago" following a recommendation from the IRFU’s Women’s Advisory Group, is chaired by John Robinson, senior vice president IRFU, and includes Philip Browne, CEO, and IRFU committee members Fiona Steed and Su Carty, with Amanda Bennett conducting all interviews and field work.

The union hopes this review will be completed in early in 2022.

Connacht players released a statement saying they were 'disappointed and upset'

Meanwhile, the review into the changing facilities provided for the teams competing in the Women’s Interprovincial Championship with specific emphasis on the matches played at Energia Park on 11 September has been completed.

The union and Leinster Rugby had previously apologised to Connacht and Ulster after footage emerged of Connacht players getting changed in a derelict area close to rubbish bins in Energia Park.

The review, undertaken by IRFU legal counsel Sean Brassil, included interviews with the four team captains and written reports and interviews from / with personnel from each of the four provinces and the IRFU.

It found that while difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic were significant, they were not determining factors in causing teams to be set up in the wrong area of the stadium resulting in "inadequate and unacceptable facilities/conditions" for the teams on the day.

They said there was "ambiguity as to responsibility for the organisation of the final weekend of fixtures for the series".


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This led to confusion around the planning on the day, while there were not enough personnel or resources to properly manage the double-header, which included a Leinster v Munster clash.

The IRFU said: "To empower player-voice, a dedicated female liaison officer should be appointed by the Provincial branches to support and assist players to deal confidentially with any issues they may have in relation to facilities with appropriate authority to address any issues that arise.

It added that the recommendations, which include a new set of guidelines for the running of the inter-pros and extra training for staff, will lead to the appointment of a single point of responsibility for the delivery of appropriate structures for the women’s interprovincial championships in the future.

"A significant amount of work went into the delivery of what was a highly entertaining interpro series," said Browne.

"However, a series of errors has overshadowed the games, we all take responsibility for such failings and vow to do better by implementing the recommendations of this review."

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