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History as Leinster vote to bestow senior status on women's rugby teams

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Lindsay Peat of Leinster is tackled by Shannon Touhey of Connacht  during the Womens Interprovincial Rugby Championships. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Lindsay Peat of Leinster is tackled by Shannon Touhey of Connacht during the Womens Interprovincial Rugby Championships. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Lindsay Peat of Leinster is tackled by Shannon Touhey of Connacht during the Womens Interprovincial Rugby Championships. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

DAYS after Portmarnock Golf Club voted to allow women members, Leinster Rugby made another long overdue move towards greater equality in Irish sport last night as it finally voted to bestow senior status on clubs participating in the Women’s All Ireland League at its AGM.

The decision was a victory for Dublin club Railway Union RFC, the holders of the All Ireland League title, which has been bidding to have equal status to men’s AIL clubs for seven years.

The decision means that women’s clubs in Leinster participating in the Women’s All Ireland League will be considered senior clubs, like the men’s equivalents.

It means the players will now be recognised as senior players, while it will also mean that clubs driving the women’s game will have a say at committee level. Currently there are no representatives of the Women’s AIL on the Women’s Committee of the IRFU or any decision making committee.

The decision also gives clubs like Railway Union greater access to tickets for international rugby games which they can then use to generate revenue and fund their women’s team.

Shirley Corcoran, Chairperson of Railway Union RFC, welcomed the move.

“We are delighted that our long-held belief that women can be senior players and that a club participating in the Women’s AIL is a senior club has been recognised,” she said.

“This is an historic event for Irish rugby, especially when you consider that Leinster Rugby is over 140 years old and Railway has been part of Leinster Rugby for over 116 years.

“This recognition allows equality in representation and in access to resources for women’s rugby. It will help improve the structures and support for high-level female athletes to allow them to achieve their potential and to better compete internationally.

“It allows senior women’s players, players who represent Ireland at an international level, a voice on how their game is governed and run.

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“It allows their club representatives, who are closely connected to those players and who have knowledge and grounding in women’s rugby to partake in governance structures of Leinster Rugby and thus in the IRFU.

“It will allow those to positively contribute to the strategic and operational direction of the women’s game in Leinster and Ireland.

“It opens an additional pathway for senior players after retirement to use their accumulated rugby wisdom and skills to positively influence the direction of our sport.

“We at Railway look forward to the day when all of the representative bodies of Irish rugby follow Leinster Rugby’s example and give equal rights and representation to women players.”

Meanwhile, Ireland internationals Hannah Tyrrell and Kate Fitzhenry have announced their decision to retire from international rugby.

Tyrrell, who lined out for the Dublin footballers in the National League last weekend, started at out-half in two of Ireland’s three Six Nations games recently and will be a major loss to Adam Griggs’ side.

She won 20 caps for Ireland and played 103 times on the Sevens circuit, while Fitzhenry won 13 Ireland caps and played 79 Sevens games.

"It will be sad to see both Hannah and Katie retire from international rugby. The last year has thrown up a lot of challenges and it is understandable that they are looking forward to the next chapter of their lives,” Griggs said.

“They have been a huge part of driving the high standards on and off the field and we wish them well for the future."


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