Leading stakeholders from the international Rugby community, including a number of the world's top technical directors, coaches, referees and administrators, will gather in Dublin next month for an International Rugby Board Conference on the playing of Rugby.
The May 13-14 Conference and will bring together representatives from the top 20 ranked Member Unions and is the first of its kind since the 2007 Woking Forum which recommended the inclusion of Argentina in an annual international competition.
Delegates will consider the central theme of global playing trends and will present their individual and collective insights into the playing of the Game at both the elite and participation levels as an invaluable part of seeking solutions to identified issues.
The Conference agenda is entirely stakeholder-driven with all 117 of the IRB's Member Unions having been given the opportunity to contribute via a survey to help identify the main topics for in-depth discussion over the two days.
While Union feedback determined that the Game was generally in good health as Rugby enters an exciting decade of Olympic Games inclusion and three Rugby World Cups, the process identified five key areas for consideration:
• the tackle
• the scrum (collapses and resets)
• excess kicking
• physicality of the Game
• the Law making process
"Rugby is currently enjoying unprecedented growth all around the world, reaching out to new countries, communities and audiences. Yet it is important that within that growth we collectively remain focused on the core values of our sport and ensuring that Rugby is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible while promoting the best-possible player welfare practices," said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"The object of the two-day Conference is to take stock of the Game and holistically consider global playing trends as we embark upon an exciting and pivotal decade for the Sport which includes Rugby Sevens Olympic Games debut in Rio in 2016 and the next three Rugby World Cups."
"The Conference will provide a forum for leading technical experts and playing representatives from around the world to gather to exchange information, discuss playing and coaching techniques and trends, currency of Law and player welfare considerations. The IRB is delighted to be able to facilitate that dialogue and I would like to thank the Member Unions for their collaboration and input to date. I am sure that it will be a very interesting forum," added Lapasset.
While the IRB Rugby Conference is not a decision-making forum, any outcomes will be presented to the IRB Rugby Committee for consideration at its October meeting.
The Conference is also a key element of the next four-year cycle of the Law Amendment process that will shape the way that Laws are evaluated, but any experimentation and/or amendment will not take place until after Rugby World Cup 2011.
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