We are thrilled to announce that the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), in partnership with Energia, has become a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.

Without a visual cue, it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge or understand daily barriers faced by people living with a non-visible disability. The Sunflower lanyard, pin badge or wristband is a simple tool to encourage understanding and inclusivity. 

Building on the results of a recent Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) survey among IRFU staff and across the game, the sporting organisation is putting steps in place to have a more diverse workforce and a more inclusive membership across its affiliated clubs.

Following training at Aviva Stadium in April 2024 by the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Ireland team, IRFU staff have a better understanding of how to support people living with disabilities and know that around 1 in 5 people in Ireland have a disability, and 80% of these are non-visible. Hidden Disabilities Sunflower supporter and Minister for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD was also present for the training and the launch. 

As part of the IRFU membership to Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland, clubs across the country now have access to the Sunflower training and resources, which will help to develop a greater awareness among the rugby community that anyone wearing the Sunflower might need a little more time, extra help and understanding.

IRFU has 54 clubs involved in the direct delivery of the game to people with disabilities, as well as players in all clubs that have additional needs. Access to the Sunflower will provide additional support for these players, as well as raise awareness among the membership, of how to offer support to make the environment more welcoming and inclusive for all.

The IRFU’s head of EDI, Anne Marie Hughes said,

“As a national governing body for a sport that offers inclusive formats, it is important we have that diversity across the whole of the organisation. Membership of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower allows us to raise awareness not just within teams involved in disability rugby but across the entire membership. The green lanyard supported by Energia, can be worn by people with a non-visible disability, while the white ‘I Support’ lanyards are for staff and volunteers to show their understanding of the Sunflower and support those with non-visible disabilities. We are on a journey to making rugby as welcoming and inclusive to as many people as possible and this is another step to providing greater access and understanding to wider rugby community.”

Tristan Casson-Rennie, Regional Director for Hidden Disabilities Sunflower in Ireland & Northern Ireland added:

“The IRFU is the first sport governing body in Ireland to become a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. I am thrilled to welcome them along with all of the rugby clubs across the country who will now be able to recognise their members who may live with a non-visible disability or condition. Recognising the Sunflower will make rugby more inclusive to everyone, supporting people playing rugby, and spectators watching a game.”

Lorna Danaher, Sponsorhsip Manager for Energia Group commented:

“We are delighted to be supporting Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and recognise its powerful symbol of understanding and support. It serves as an important reminder that not all disabilities are visible, fostering empathy and inclusivity in our communities. We are determined to continue our support of Irish Rugby to make the game more inclusive for everyone, and Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is leading the way in that effort.”

For more information on the various programmes of rugby that the IRFU offers for all abilities please visit: Spirit of Rugby

Become a Sunflower Member in six easy steps

  1. If you already have a Business account, login here. If not, register now to create your account and join the Sunflower community.
  2. Visit the Memberships section of our online shop to choose the Sunflower Membership that best suits your business. Subscribe today to start accessing exclusive benefits and resources.
  3. Schedule an onboarding call with our dedicated support team*
  4. Purchase Sunflower products to support your colleagues and customers with hidden disabilities
  5. Train your entire workforce using our Sunflower training videos*
  6. Launch and promote your Sunflower Membership to your community as well as the global Sunflower network*

*access restricted dependent on Sunflower Membership level