Friday 23 August 2019

'In Shannon, people are judged on merit and not gender'

Palmer: Recently elected to the board of New Zealand Rugby. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Palmer: Recently elected to the board of New Zealand Rugby. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

In the same week that the contentious idea of gender quotas was proposed, it seemed perfectly fitting that Dr Farah Palmer, a three-time World Cup-winning captain with the Black Ferns, was unanimously elected to New Zealand Rugby's (NZR) main board.

A little closer to home, Shannon currently have two female members on their board - Katie McCloskey (executive officer) and Lena Gutke (ladies representative).

While Shannon are the most successful club in the country from a male point of view, the number of women playing the game continues to rise.

Thirty-two players are registered with Shannon's senior team, another 28 will hope to advance from the U-18 set-up, while 25 are playing at U-15 level and 12 at U-13s. That's not to mention the 20 girls who play tag rugby with the club.

According to McCloskey, Shannon have always been very open when it comes to including women on their committee but she insists that they are not inclined to hand out positions based on gender.

"We're lucky in Shannon, the club has always been very open towards women," McCloskey maintained.

"One of the first female PROs in the country was from Shannon and the PRO before me was also a female.

"I don't think jobs in Shannon are ever issued because you are female. I know myself, when I was approached to become PRO, it was because they knew I had a degree in media. It was about looking at people's backgrounds and seeing what they can offer to the role.

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"We have about seven women coaching within the club and they are given every opportunity, the same as men are, as regards going forward with the club.

"There is more scope for women to be involved on the committee but in Shannon, it's never looked at in terms of your gender."

With regard to the idea of introducing female quotas, McCloskey firmly believes that women should have the power to be promoted on their own merit.

"Any idea that is more inclusive in relation to committees is a good one," she said.

"I think women have as much to offer as men. It's always good to get different points of view. Women's sports are a minority so it's important to have input from that minority to see how we can further develop them.

"Maybe rather than saying outright that you have to have 30pc women on the committee, should they not make it more relatable to the amount of members that a club has?

"If you only have five female members in a club, are you saying that you have to have three of them on the committee? In my opinion, it should be based on the ratio within each individual club. There will always be exceptions to every rule."

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