Friday 20 September 2019

Foley urges IRFU to offer Doyle full coaching contract

Philip Doyle oversaw Ireland's march to the World Cup semi-finals, but is set to step away, much to the frustration of retired international Rosie Foley. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Philip Doyle oversaw Ireland's march to the World Cup semi-finals, but is set to step away, much to the frustration of retired international Rosie Foley. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland, the team that so briefly lifted a nation's hearts by giving all of theirs, returned home to momentous acclaim yesterday.

Now the focus must switch, as it did in the aftermath of the 2013 Grand Slam, from what they have achieved in the past to what the can achieve in the future.

"It's time for the IRFU to put their money where their mouth is," declares retired international Rosie Foley, who feels that Philip Doyle's openness to remain on as head coach - but only as a professional - should be tested.

"Don't let him go," is the earnest message relayed by Foley regarding Doyle, a 20-year coaching veteran of the sport.

"I know they've said that he will be there to help out but they should really put pen to paper and tie him down to a professional contract.

"He should be offered a professional contract as the head coach of the Ireland team and be told to bring them into the next World Cup.

"With Gemma Crowley leaving her role as manager, there would be too much experience walking out that door at the same time. The team is an experienced and settled one, but we need that leadership to keep the momentum. Fiona Coghlan is retiring but she should be kept on in a mentoring role.

"The next World Cup is only three years away and, apart from Fiona Coghlan, most of this Irish team looks like it will stick together until then.

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"And having finally got their Holy Grail, it is probable that many of the English girls will decide to retire, and there is also likely to be a significant shift in the squad make-ups of our other main rivals, France and New Zealand."

As the team surpasses the IRFU's expectations, so the favour must be reciprocated. In fairness, the IRFU and government have ponied up decent sums in recent times; the IRFU commit over €1m annually towards the Sevens team alone.

The government poured over €2m into IRFU coffers to specifically cater for the women's game earlier this year.

But the tap must remain on.

Foley, sister of new Munster head coach Anthony, swam the English Channel recently; more people have scaled Mount Everest than have finished the gruelling 40km journey.

Still people asked her, "What next?" So too for her erstwhile colleagues, whose journey has been no less arduous; the sustained questioning of where they go from here no less pertinent.

Irish women's rugby needs many things that are practical - and hence that cost money. What they don't need is the surfeit of overweening bulls**t from an ignorant public.

They want to be judged as winners and losers like everyone else.

As we've said here before, finding the balance between all the men who have comfortably ignored them for so long and the women who think that just female athletes appearing on TV or in print is a triumph will be difficult.

So too criticising their defeats with as much passion as celebrating their victories. Then again, women's rugby should be celebrated for what it is, rather than something it is not.

Strenuous demands from a lot of ignorant sisters for equality - oddly many of whom have no interest in sport - completely miss the point.

Women's rugby is not as good as men's rugby. Few female sports are the equal of their male equivalents.

The Irish women want fairness and respect, both of which cost nothing.

"It would be a pity for us to go backwards, which we would have a tendency to do if there isn't pressure maintained," adds Foley.

"There isn't a united front from the media or Irish sporting bodies to say 'let's move these women on to the next level'.

"Let's pay the people who have the interest and the knowledge and let's get behind them. It can't just move off the agenda."

Women's sport hasn't always helped themselves: look at the divisions within Gaelic games for one startling example.

The paucity of PE is a well-puffed trumpet; government departments are equally divided here.

"You've seen what can be done with limited resources," says Foley. "Imagine what could be done with adequate resources.

"Everything else is secondary stuff but it's a pity enough people aren't looking after the secondary stuff. We're no different to everyone else.

"We just want to keep winning. That's all that matters."

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