Thursday 17 October 2019

We need more games, women's rugby in Ireland cannot go on the way it is - Peat

Lindsay Peat has been one of the leading female sports stars in Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Lindsay Peat has been one of the leading female sports stars in Ireland. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

If women's international rugby in this country is to stand a realistic chance going forward, it needs people like Lindsay Peat to continue to stick their head above the parapet without fearing the consequences.

Perhaps it is easier for a player who is in the autumn of her career, but given that Peat (right) has been one of the leading female sports stars in Ireland, when she feels the need the speak out, her opinion commands huge respect.

From her time playing international basketball and soccer, and Gaelic football with Dublin, Peat, 38, hasn't faced as many hurdles as the current Ireland rugby team are up against.

"I was thinking about that and the nearest thing I could think of was Dublin got relegated from Division 1 to Division 2," she recalls.

"I remember losing to Laois away in the last game, that we had to win to stay up. That year we went on to win the All-Ireland in 2010.

"Other than that, no, I haven't really gone through that other than with my very first basketball club when we used to lose badly."

Many people still feel that the future of the women's game lies in sevens, where Ireland are making waves on the world stage, but that isn't much use to the hundreds of young girls who one day dream of following Peat in the 15-a-side code.

The Six Nations was always likely to be a tough campaign given the need to blood new players, but even still it's difficult to get away from the fact that it has been a major disappointment.

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Defeat to a French team operating on another level was inevitable and the reality facing the squad now is that they will not have a pitch session to put it right until tomorrow - six days after the game.

How any team can improve under such conditions is a mystery and when you consider that as it stands, Ireland will not play another game until November, the major problems are laid bare.

"It can't go on the way it is," Peat, who missed the first two rounds of this year's Six Nations with a shoulder/neck issue, warns.

"We need to look at how do we get to train or have training matches.

"We're stuck between a rock and a hard place on how we fix those things because it is pitch time, it is contact time. It is doing the review on video and now going out to fix it.

"We saw it with the men, just bringing it back to simple things, but they got to do that during the week.

"We just don't have that contact time midweek. We're in at camp and trying to fit everything into two days. Even one day."

More games is a major priority as head coach Adam Griggs looks to get more pitch time with his players - most of whom are still new to this level.

Peat, however, isn't too optimistic about that changing any time soon.

"I'm a personal believer in learning from mistakes. They're never easy, they're often embarrassing and frustrating but you'd hope we have the mentality to never make that mistake again.

"We're just not getting the opportunity to do it now. We need a summer series, or even a short mini tournament.

"I haven't had enough rugby since November, since the injury and you can see that.

"We need underage, we need schools, we need secondary schools, we need clubs, we need provincial and we need international.

"And until that pathway is there on an equal pegging throughout, we're going to remain behind."

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