IRFU chief executive Philip Browne says it would be inappropriate to comment on the future of women's director of rugby Anthony Eddy’s position with Ireland about to kick off their Autumn international series.
An interview given by Eddy on Monday and the subsequent fall-out, with one of the current squad calling some of the comments "slurry" have meant that instead of full focus being on tonight’s international against the USA at the RDS (7.15pm, live on RTÉ Player), there is more attention on what is going on behind the scenes.
After indicating that high-performance director David Nucifora is going to sign a new contract with the union, Browne said he preferred not to comment on Eddy’s position.
"We are facing into two big matches for the girls in terms of the US and Japan," he said.
"My own view on this is that it would be totally inappropriate and just plain wrong for me to be making any comments that could distract the team from what they need to do, which is focus and priorities on what is immediately in front of them.
"We are behind the team and hopefully they will deliver the performances and results for them, and I'm sure they will.
"I am fully aware that there are issues, I am fully aware of the different views and opinions that are out there.
"The independent reviews are up and running to actually answer those questions.
"Please don’t get me wrong but I honestly feel that for me to get involved in a discussion around team management when they are trying to prepare for two major fixtures would be just wrong."
Two reviews were recently ordered by the union: one to look at the team's failure to qualify for the World Cup, and one to examine the overall structures of the game.
Browne said he shares the "disappointment" of the players and management of the women's team surrounding recent events.
"Listen, it's been a tough week and it's been a tough week for anyone who loves Irish rugby," said Browne, who stands down at the end of the year.
"We share the disappointment that the players and the team management have gone through.
"By 'we' I mean we at the IRFU, the volunteers all around the country who are involved in developing, promoting and delivering rugby for girls, in clubs and in schools.
"We're all 100% behind the women's game, maybe that doesn't seem evident, but we are.
"We're committed to making sure that the women's game succeeds, that it develops and that we address whatever issues there are.
"When you reflect on what has happened over the last week, there are probably two key issues or questions.
"The first one is the question around what happened in [World Cup qualifying tournament in] Parma and the second question is how is the women's game is structured and developing.
"Is it structured in the right way to ensure that the development of the women's game proceeds at a pace.
"And, in both cases, we've already put the review structures in place to effectively try and find the answers to those questions.
"We're committed to answering those questions. And we're committed to acting on whatever the outcome of those reviews are.
"I don't have answers to the questions.
"I think we're best to leave it to the independent review in both aspects, to actually come up with the reports, and those reports will be get a full consideration and I think the key outcomes and the key findings of those reports will be made public, as we normally do.
"The key thing here is the independence of the reports is important and the people doing the reports are well qualified.
"Amanda Bennett, FairPlay consultancy, and Kevin Bowring, who is a former international coach and has been involved in high performance for many, many years, and Helen Phillips, who's been in high performance in the Commonwealth Games and in other sports.
"Everyone is committed to making sure they are done properly"
"I think we have a good team looking at the question of what happened in Parma, what happened in terms of the preparation and the participation of the team in that competition and prior to that competition.
"That review goes back to March 2020, so it's taken the whole span.
"My own view is, we can have lots of chatter about what it was or what it wasn't, or how we develop the game or how we don't develop the game.
"I'd actually prefer to see the outcome of the reports.
"Everyone is committed to making sure they are done properly and ultimately that the outcome of those reports is taken to the union committee and acted on because at the end of the day we're going to continue to struggle in terms of developing the game for girls and for women and we'll continue to struggle at the top end of the game in terms of the international team."
Browne indicated that high performance director Nucifora (above) will stay on with the union.
"I think we're very happy with the job that David Nucifora is doing and I’m in discussions with him at the moment in terms of contract extension," he said.
"All you have to do is look at the through-put of players coming into the provincial system and the success that we’ve had in bringing young players through in the provinces and, indeed, the national team.
"David’s job is to find the raw material for the high-performance system and I think he’s done a really good job."
Follow Ireland v New Zealand (3.15pm, Saturday) via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to national radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.
Follow Ireland v USA (7.15pm, Friday) via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, or watch live on the RTÉ Player.