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07th Apr 2023

What’s going on with the Irish Women’s Rugby team?


It takes time.

It was another disappointing result for the girls in green at the weekend when they were defeated by France 53-3 at home in Musgrave Park.

Expectations were low heading into the second round of the Women’s Six Nations on Saturday after a poor display in the first round against Wales.

Although sporting pundits say there was an improvement in the girls’ performance against France compared to the game against Wales, it’s clear the team is not up to the standards of others in the competition. The 50-point margin supports that.

France scored nine tries in the game which they played the majority of with just fourteen players.

However, there were some positive elements to take from Ireland’s game last weekend.

Each player showed sheer strength and determination throughout the entire game, their defensive play improved massively and their scrum play was better.

Dannah O’Brien kicked an impressive penalty in the first half to put Ireland on the score board after France was served a red card.

France are ranked third in the world for women’s rugby. They were runners up at last year’s Six Nations and so are a very professional outfit.

Ireland are very new to the professional rugby scene with professional contracts only in place since last year.

The contracts offered to the Irish players currently range between €15,000 and €30,000 per season.

In contrast to that, the men’s professional players get between €85,000 and €125,000 per season.

The Ireland ladies are very much in a transition phase and have lots of new faces on the team which means they have a lot to learn together.

Big changes and great results don’t happen overnight. It’ll take time for this team to gel together and be able to deliver wins.

Ireland captain, Nichola Fryday, was very emotional after the game on Saturday. She’s the leader of the team and so clearly puts her heart and soul into every game and training session.

We expect her to continue to encourage the players and reassure them that building a strong team takes time.

The coverage and support..

Again to emphasise, the Irish Women’s Rugby team don’t have the same resources, facilities or funding that the men’s team have.

The lack of expert coaching can and probably is limiting the girls to some level.

They don’t have a performance coach whereas the men have expert, Gary Keegan on their side.

In saying that, Nichola Fryday insists the team work on that aspect of the sport themselves with coach Greg McWilliams.

It’s also evident that although the media coverage of women’s sports has improved, the ladies don’t get near enough support that the men do.

Of course, the men’s team performed incredibly during their Six Nations battle and came out on top which gave a great lift to the country and the sport overall.

However, the coverage of the Irish women’s rugby team has only improved in recent years.

According to Greg McWilliam said: “In 2010 and 2011, [Ireland were] losing matches by bigger score lines but it wasn’t shown on TV and we got a couple of column inches so we were able to go through that journey without the public and without being on TV.

“Now the public are seeing this journey and we hope that they stay supportive of, most importantly, the players.”

“Rugby is a men’s game please.”

Another major problem in women’s sports and in particular, women’s rugby, is the underlined misogyny.

The Ireland team recently changed the colour of their playing shorts from white to navy to “ease period concerns” and the comments under RugbyJoe‘s Instagram post really reflect the attitudes of some men in this country.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Rugby JOE (@rugbyjoe)

One comment read: “Men can have Periods too!”

Another man wrote: “Menstruation attracts the bears.”

And another disgusting comment:”Those fella’s have a period?”

The lack of support from some men is extremely damaging to women’s sport and the comments are degrading to female athletes.

Comments like these only discourage young women and girls in sports and seeing them can be detrimental.

As a society we need to back all female players so that all women’s sports teams can progress and get the funding, support and recognition they deserve.

Related links:

Full team line-out: Ireland battle it out with France today in the Women’s Six Nations.

Irish Rugby team captain Nichola Fryday tells Her that the team “can’t wait to get to Cardiff”.

Ireland women’s rugby team debut navy shorts following period concerns.