Monday 11 December 2017

The only way is up for Irish ladies

BEFORE the Bermuda Classic golden oldie tournament became the competitive spectacle it now is, I was one of the pioneering group on that Easter weekend in Paradise.

The annual choice was either the three-match Welsh tour with the Barbarians (Swansea, Cardiff and Penarth, if memory serves me right) or else John Kane and Pat Riordan's invitation to Bermuda. You can guess which destination generally won out.

It was on Bermuda duty back in the late 1970s early '80s I first came across ladies rugby at a competitive level. Every year two teams travelled across from the east coast of the US for a preliminary match to the main event and suffice to say the standard wasn't great. And that was my experience of women's rugby until I saw the recently televised rugby world cup.

Here I must hold my hands up and confess that, for me, soccer and Gaelic football seemed to lend themselves to female involvement, while rugby appeared (to this blinkered observer) a game too far. Well, I take it all back.

The technique, the level of skill, the commitment, the tackling, the passion on display at the World Cup meant little was missing when compared to the male equivalent. New Zealand and England are far ahead of the posse, but Ireland are well placed in the second tier and the only way is up. Well done to Philip Doyle, Fiona Coghlan and all the players, who (the US play-off blip apart) did the country proud.

Irish Independent

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