Thursday 27 June 2019

'A slap in the face to women's rugby' - IRFU slammed for turning down Test double header in Australia

Sene Naoupu of Ireland is congratulated by team mates
Sene Naoupu of Ireland is congratulated by team mates

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Green Party equality spokesperson Una Power is the latest person to hit out at the IRFU's decision to turn down an invitation from their

Australian counterparts to play a three-Test women's series along with the men this month.

The ARU were willing to cover Ireland's accommodation costs, and the IRFU have now come in for plenty of flak from all directions, including recently-retired players such as Ailis Egan and Sophie Spence, while perhaps the most pertinent stinging criticism came from current star Sene Naoupu, who voiced her disgust on Twitter.

The union have said that they would rather focus their attentions on the November internationals, but on the back of hosting the World Cup on these shores last summer, very little knock-on effects have been seen. The results of the IRFU's strategic review have also not yet been published.

"This is just the latest in a series of wilfully missed opportunities by the IRFU when it comes to promoting the women's game," Power said in an official statement.

"It must be incredibly disheartening to the players to be constantly cast aside by their organisation. The IRFU need to stop finding excuses and start prioritising actual development of the game."

The idea was proposed that Adam Briggs' side would play before the Irish men take on Australia this weekend in Brisbane and in the following two tests in Melbourne and Sydney on 16th and 23rd of June respectively.

The test serious would have potentially given the Irish Women's rugby team and the Wallaroos the biggest platform they have enjoyed, with games between their respective men's sides expected to host large crowds.

"Sick of staying quiet about missed opportunities for shared learning," said Naoupu.

"Been working on a paper investigating a model of promotion and development in women's sport that could be sustainable for women's rugby in Ireland, but what's the point? A key characteristic of a successful model is integrating with the men."

Ailis Egan, also a member of the Irish Women's rugby team was also quick to share her views of the situation. She sarcastically had a dig at the IRFU's strategic plan for the women's side, which won't be published following this incident.

"Wow! Not a great morning read but yet somehow doesn't surprise me," she said.

"Must be part of the grand master strategic plan for the growth and development of the game #stillwaiting #legacy."

Players weren't the only ones to publically share their views though. Legend of the sport, Sophie Spence and Irish Independent columnist Sinéad Kissane also expressed their outrage.

"Extremely frustrating to read," Spence said.

"This could have been the chance to show that 'genuine commitment and effective action' that was requested by the people who put so much into the sport in Ireland. Is it a business that is only supporting a pathway for one gender still?"

Kissane backed up Spence's views, saying that the IRFU have made a statement to its women's side that they aren't, as they have said in the past, as important to them as the men's team.

"Turning down a series in Oz is a slap in the face for development of Irish women's 15s rugby," she said.

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