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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Leinster Rugby hit by equality row over women players

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Stock picture

John Greene

Leinster Rugby has been accused of deliberately refusing to recognise women players as equal to men under its own regulations.

It comes after a motion by the Railway Union rugby club calling for women on teams in the All Ireland League (AIL) to be considered senior players was shot down at the province's annual general meeting last week.

Under its by-laws, Leinster Rugby defines a senior club as one which is playing in the AIL.

The Railway Union men's team play in the Leinster League but the women's team are the AIL champions and have 20 international players as members.

The club has been campaigning for the last four years to have men and women players recognised as being equals.

A motion was tabled at last Thursday night's annual general meeting calling on Leinster Rugby to recognise that the definition of a senior club in its by-laws includes both men and women.

"In layman's terms, it was to recognise that a woman could be a senior player and that women's rugby should have equal representation," a spokesperson for Railway Union told the Sunday Independent.

"It wasn't a Railway Union issue, it was an equality issue."

Railway Union had originally tabled the motion at last year's agm but agreed to withdraw it after Leinster promised an inclusivity review.

But the club says the issue wasn't dealt with and the motion was put down again this year.

When it was put to delegates it received little support, with just 10 clubs giving it their backing.

Railway Union have accused Leinster Rugby of "underhand tactics" and claim that some clubs were pressurised into not supporting the motion.

A spokesman for the club said that if Leinster management wanted to make the change it would already have happened.

He also said the issue had been deliberately confused with other issues such as gender balance.

Leinster Rugby, however, said it was committed to the women's game and that the work of its inclusivity committee had the full support of its executive.

A spokesperson said yesterday that the committee had "a mandate to work toward achieving a more inclusive game across the 12 counties".

Sunday Independent

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