Friday 20 September 2019

Women seek to engage players' union in IRFU dispute

Philip Browne, Chief Executive, IRFU. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Philip Browne, Chief Executive, IRFU. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland's leading women's rugby internationals have sought to engage with players' union Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) in an attempt to resolve their issues with the IRFU.

RPI chief executive Simon Keogh told union chief Philip Browne that members of the squad have requested to be represented by the body at a scheduled meeting yesterday.

The IRFU must approve that request before RPI can represent the players in discussions.

Previously, RPI has provided support for women's players but has not represented them in such matters.

The news is the latest twist in the saga that began last week when the IRFU advertised the position of head coach of the women's national team on a part-time, six-month basis.

The position had been vacant since Tom Tierney resigned in the aftermath of the disastrous home World Cup that saw Ireland finish a disappointing eighth and means they must qualify for the next tournament.

After an initial outcry from current and former players and fans, the IRFU sought to clarify their position in a statement that said they regretted any upset caused by the advertisement. They denied the position was being downgraded.

Despite that clarification, players at women's All-Ireland League games last weekend donned wristbands with #legacy written on them in protest.

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"We have been approached by members of the women's squad who have requested that we act on their behalf. Previous to this we have been unable to intervene without their express nomination that we do so," an RPI spokesman said last night.

"This was raised with the IRFU today in a routine meeting between Simon and Philip Browne."

As of last night, the IRFU had not yet granted the request.

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