Mr. Herbert Mensah, President of the Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU), followed up on his previous meeting in June this year with IRB (International Rugby Board) executives to further discussions with Mr. Jean-Luc Barthes, the Regional Development Manager (Africa) of the IRB.
The meeting took place at the IRB offices in Dublin and was also attended by Mr. David Carrigy, Head of Development and International Relations and Mr. Morgan Buckley, General Manager Development to address outstanding issues.
The IRB/CAR whilst being extremely impressed with the plans and speed of the Ghana agenda were somewhat concerned about the level and nature of communication. Mr. Carrigy pointed out that the IRB had to service all it’s members and so did CAR and it was not possible to always do it simultaneously for all members at the same time. All parties agreed that phone calls would sometimes be more appropriate especially when time was of the essence in our cross cultural world.
According to Mr. Mensah the meeting was conducted in a positive mood and he was extremely grateful to Mr. Carrigy for arranging the meeting at short notice with the focus on what the requirements are for Ghana Rugby to become a Full Member of the IRB and thus to qualify for development support.
Mr. Carrigy took time to explain both procedure and the constitution which both outlined and determined the relationship between Ghana and the governing bodies for which Mr. Mensah was extremely grateful especially in light of the upcoming CAR conference/elections in Dakar in December. Mr. Buckley also clarified what was both expected from Ghana in order to attain full status. Again Mr. Mensah said that he was grateful and better understood why Ghana had not reached the mark after eleven years!
“Although Ghana Rugby is a full member of CAR (Confederation of African Rugby), it is only an associate member of the IRB and therefore does not qualify for development support – something that Ghana Rugby desperately needs,” Mr. Mensah said.
Ghana Rugby elected a new Board on 5 June 2014 and the President tasked the Board to make a proper assessment of the state of Rugby in Ghana and to come up with a Blueprint for the following four years.
“The assessment was completed and involved many stakeholders. Discussions on the proposed Blueprint were successfully held at the first ever Ghana Rugby Stakeholder Forum on 27 August 2014 and a Blueprint will be published and sent to CAR as per their requirements Mr. Mensah continued to say.
The assessment also included consideration of a CAR evaluation done in 2013 but that was never concluded. In this regard Mr. Mensah said that CAR committed itself to send a new team in the foreseeable future to re-valuate Ghana Rugby in the light of its application for Full IRB Membership and he was happy to be working with Mr. Jean-Luc Barthes and the assigned Mohamed Dhermouni responsible for Rugby development in North and West Africa.
The draft Blueprint that was published on the Ghana Rugby website (http://ghanarugby.org) for comments painted a bleak picture of the current state of Rugby in Ghana with probably the biggest challenge being the need to raise funding for the various programmes.
Mr. Mensah also said, “The future of Ghana Rugby is without doubt dependent on the successful planning, structuring and implementation of a grassroots programme at school level. Previous attempts at this have all resulted in non-sustainable or manageable projects. The new Blueprint aims to bring schools development within the Club structure but that will obviously also require sponsorship.”
Other programmes on the schedule include the local 15s men’s league that is being planned for November 2014 and January – February 2015 that will include 63 matches in total. In addition a 7s tournament will be held in April over the Easter weekend. Mr. Mensah mentioned that when CAR announces the schedules for international matches these also need to be funded.
“Besides for funding tournaments and matches Ghana Rugby also needs to invest in governance issues and specifically in the appointment of certain full time staff to take care of development of both the national teams and to support Zonal development aspects,” Mr. Mensah said.
Ghana Rugby are grateful for the clarity given by Messrs Carrigy, Buckley and Barthes and would be working much closer with Mr. Barthes to ensure a development programme which was both manageable and sustainable!