'This will not be part-time/casual' - Women's AIL teams protest IRFU's decision to offer part-time coaching role
Galwegians RFC and Highfield RFC have protested the IRFU's decision to offer a part-time coaching role for the national women's team by wearing wristbands or tape with the word '#Legacy' on their wrists during their match on Sunday.
The IRFU advertised the position earlier this week which will see the successful candidate coach on a part-time basis, on a six month contract, covering a full-time remit. The decision was heavily criticised with Ireland centre Jenny Murphy tweeting that the move was “a kick in the teeth for players.”
Galwegians and Highfield joined the protest on Sunday when they took to the field for their AIL round five fixture at Crowley Park in Galway.
In a statement posted on the Highfield Womens Rugby Facebook page yesterday, the team wrote:
"Tomorrow ourselves and @galwegianswomensrugby play in Galway with kick off at 1pm.
"We will take to the field with a very important message on our wrists. This message will read #Legacy .. why you may ask, it’s to start a protest which we as clubs and players support with recent developments with women’s rugby in Ireland!
"This will not be “part-time/casual” All AIL teams in the league have been asked to play there part, also with any other teams, sport who wishes to support women’s rugby and to standing up for women’s rugby in Ireland, to make sure we create a #Legacy and get the support we need to develop women’s rugby in Ireland for players coming in / in this country.
"A massive part of this sport is long term player development which starts from girls teams, right up to international level. We the players need to show what is meant by this which is to leave a #Legacy.
"This sport means the world to us. It’s out identity, passion and pride."
Wasps Ladies, Shannon RFC, St. Mary's Women's Rugby, Cooke Women's RFC, Mullingar Women's Rugby and Old Belvedere Women all joined in support of the protest.
The IRFU clarified their decision to offer a part-time role on Friday and added that they would employ a full-time coach, if necessary, at the conclusion of their on-going review into the entire structure of the Women's game in Ireland.
A statement posted on the IRFU's website read:
"The IRFU wishes to address the confusion that has arisen in recent days regarding the coaching position for the Ireland Women's team. The IRFU regrets any upset that it has caused.
"Contrary to recent comment, the IRFU has not downgraded the coaching role in relation to the Ireland Women's team. While the outgoing coach was employed on a full-time basis, he was, as confirmed in the announcement of his appointment in December 2014, a shared resource across the Women's XVs and Sevens programmes. He was not exclusively employed as a full-time Ireland Women's XVs coach.
"The IRFU confirms that it is in the process of reviewing the entire structure of the Women's game in order to develop the next long-term strategy as we build towards the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup and beyond.
"Based on the experience of the most recent structure, which saw the sharing of time between the Women's XVs and Sevens programmes, the IRFU is seeking to appoint a coach on an interim basis, to work exclusively with the Ireland Women's XVs team, until the end of the 2018 Women's Six Nations. As confirmed already, this coaching position will be re-examined fully after the tournament, as part of the wider IRFU review.
"At a press conference in Dublin in September, IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora spoke of the need to examine the Women's game from grassroots level up. This will ensure appropriate levels of competition in the domestic game, and foster the development of players with international potential.
"The Women's programme has received a significant increase in investment in recent years, with a full-time director of rugby and a full-time Women's programme manager as well as backroom resources such as strength & conditioning, physio and nutrition professionals.
"The person who takes on the Ireland Women's XVs team coaching role will work with, and report into, the director of rugby.
"It is important that, on conclusion of the on-going review, the IRFU is in a position to appoint staff, including a head coach, full-time if necessary, who can deliver to the long-term strategy identified."