Saturday 25 November 2017

Cheese and union saga gives flavour of IRFU thinking

The IRFU's reaction to Crispgate is way over the top, says Louis Jacob

Am I hallucinating? Is there really some kind of outrage about these Hunky Dory ads? I actually thought that as a nation we were past all this pseudo-moralistic posturing. Judging by the statement released by the IRFU, posturing is exactly what they are in the mood for.

The IRFU statement declares, "this blatant exploitation of women is tasteless and base and is quite simply unacceptable."

Is this the same IRFU who would charge you €35 for a child's shirt complete with a couple of corporate logos emblazoned across the front? 'Exploitation,' I should think, would be the last word that a professional sporting body would want to introduce into any conversation.

The statement proceeds to play the 'family values' card: "Irish rugby has a strong family focus and would not tolerate any connection with such an approach." How seriously, exactly, do these people take themselves? Are the IRFU honestly giving a sermon about social values and the degradation of women.

I have to say it: I would definitely prefer my kids to be looking at a bit of nudity than to be seeing their heroes wedging their fingers into somebody's eye sockets in order to gain some sporting advantage. Am I wrong here?

Every time a male player poses semi-nude with only a rugby ball to cover his private parts, it's passed off as an idle bit of boyish clowning and we all have a good ol' giggle.

Now we see a bit of female exposure however, and suddenly the dynamic shifts and rugby decides it's time to get serious. It's time to wheel out the old family values argument and to lament the sad degradation of women. You see, for your average rugby man, there's nothing remotely funny about the female body or really about women for that matter. Rugby has values all of a sudden.

In fact, there's nothing funny about anything that doesn't celebrate rugby's newly-found untouchable status. We all remember the rugby player who felt compelled to write a letter to a newspaper in order to adamantly point out that as a prominent national hero, he could not and would not accept even the slightest bit of criticism from anyone, least of all a journalist.

Getting back to this family values issue. It really is such a sham, this archaic connotation, that any act of revealing a female form, in some way runs contrary to our ideas about family values. It reminds me of how the clothes shops in my my local town used to cover the mannequins up with newspaper when they weren't being used, lest they fell foul of the wandering eye. Men's bodies are a laugh but women's bodies

. . . women's bodies are, well, just a tad provocative. The sight of a woman's body could be the precursor to all kinds of societal breakdown.

Of course we all know that the real crux of the problem for the IRFU resided in the second part of the statement which read, "Secondly, the claim that the product is a 'Proud Sponsor of Irish Rugby' implies that the company is a significant sponsor of the game in this country, through the IRFU. This is absolutely untrue and a cynical ploy in an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the game."

I can vaguely see what they're getting at there but then they appear to contradict themselves by giving the bleeding heart notion that it's all about the grassroots.

"By doing so, it has the potential to undermine the legitimate claims of the many genuine sponsors and supporters of Irish rugby whose investment has been a key element in the success of rugby at grassroots level throughout the country, and of our provincial and national squad"

But hang on: Hunky Dorys have been investing in Irish rugby, and directly at grassroots level. They sponsor Navan. So they do sponsor Irish rugby and how are the IRFU ever going to be able to prove whether they are proud of it or not?

What kind of world are the IRFU actually living in? When are we going to wake up to the fact that there are some major moral and ethical issues to be sorted out in this country at the moment? Surely to God we are not going to lose the run ourselves over a little flash of cleavage?

What about it? They paid a beautiful girl a good sum of money to reveal a bit of flesh. At least she doesn't end up with the inglorious ignominy of having to spend the rest of her days with cauliflower ears. A small bit of perspective please.

Sunday Independent

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