Thursday 17 January 2019

IRFU says sorry for ad seeking an unpaid PhD intern

The IRFU subsequently deleted the advertisement. Photo: Sportsfile
The IRFU subsequently deleted the advertisement. Photo: Sportsfile
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

Rugby chiefs have apologised for "mistakenly advertising" an unpaid, highly skilled internship position.

The IRFU came under fire after publishing a notice for the voluntary role of a 'national sports science intern'. The advertisement said the successful candidate must commit to the unpaid programme for 40 hours per week for six months.

The primary objective of the position was to help "evolve and manage" the centralised data sources used to guide the physical preparation of Irish rugby players.

Some of the key and desirable qualities included:

  • A MSc or PhD in a sports or exercise science-related area;
  • Experience in building linear, multivariate and neural network models;
  • A verifiable record of delivering sport-science support and programme leadership for a high-performance rugby team;
  • A known record of published research in the area of performance science, or a related performance area.

The advertisement drew attention and criticism online. Labour TD Alan Kelly tweeted: "Completely disagree with this.

"It's totally wrong. Gov Dept's should monitor this activity when looking at funding allocations etc.

"Will write to TTAS Oireachtas Committee and ask them to look at it."

The IRFU subsequently deleted the advertisement and a spokesperson told the Irish Independent that the intern position was issued in error.

"The IRFU has removed an advert for a national sports science intern which was released for publication in error last week.

"The IRFU does not have any unpaid internship positions. The requirements for this exciting role are yet to be finalised, and an approved job description is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

"We apologise for any confusion caused by this mistake."

A spokesperson for the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said there was no legal definition of the term 'intern' in Irish legislation. They would also be entitled to the national minimum wage. He added: "Individuals described as 'interns' are not exempted or treated as separate categories of workers under Irish employment law.

"Ireland's body of employment rights legislation protects all employees who are legally employed on an employer-employee basis, regardless of what title is given to them."

Irish Independent

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