Ballymena’s Ian McIlrath is new Irish Rugby president

Ian McIlrath.
Ian McIlrath.

Ballymena native Ian McIlrath has been appointed as the new president of the Irish Rugby Football Union.

The former Ireland and Ulster centre succeeds Philip Orr in the highest role in Irish rugby.

A retired school principal, McIlrath won five caps for Ireland after making his debut against Australia in January 1976.

He has been a member of the IRFU committee since 2008, having previously served as president of Ballymena RFC.

McIlrath is the chairman of the Union’s rugby committee as well as a member of the management committee, he serves as the Ulster representative on the IRFU committee and is also a trustee of their charitable trust.

The Ulsterman has taken up his new role after the IRFU announced a profit of 1.2m euro at its annual council meeting in Dublin.

The Union had budgeted to make a loss for the 2017/18 season because of the costs of hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup and their failed bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

However, Ireland’s Grand Slam success capped a remarkable season of success for Irish teams, which also included Leinster’s European and domestic double, and resulted in increased revenues for the Union to a total of 85.7m euro.