THIS weekend a long and tiresome 2023 Women's Six Nations journey comes to an end.
Since the men’s and U20 tournaments kicked off on February 3 and up to the women’s finishing with Super Saturday this weekend, it has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride from start to finish for Irish rugby.
And I’m not talking about The Wild Mouse type of rollercoaster that you find down in Funderland.
I mean the type of rollercoaster that sends you from the highest of highs, screaming in excitement with your hands in the air, to the lowest of lows where you end up crying to get off and cursing the owner of the theme park.
The most recent debacle faced by the IRFU was trying to shut down a protest staged at the game in Musgrave Park on Saturday last when Ireland went down 48-0 to world number one side England.
The protest came in response to a remark made by a 'prominent figure' in Irish rugby when he stated loudly at a dinner earlier this year “Who gives a f**k about women’s rugby?”
There were members of the crowd at the game who were stopped from distributing posters and stickers with an artistic interpretation of the words “I give a f**k.”
The protest was condoned by the IRFU deeming the “foul and abusive” language “inappropriate.”
Yes. They’re right. It is absolutely foul, abusive and inappropriate. But that language was taken from a quote from one of their own.
I wonder if anyone told that 'prominent figure' that what he said was foul, abusive and inappropriate?
If they did, they need to let it be known. That we will not tolerate this kind of language towards people or any group of players in our union. That we absolutely condone this message and it is unacceptable.
Maybe then the protesters might have known before they did all their creation and printing that this kind of language simply wasn’t welcome.
Maybe the 'prominent figure' was not aware of the number of people who care about women’s rugby. Maybe he never noticed the thousands of fans that have been coming to the games since the support started to grow on those cold and brilliant nights in Ashbourne RFC pre-2013.
Maybe he doesn’t know about the over 8,000 participants in women’s rugby in Ireland.
Maybe no one told him about the 86 rugby clubs in Ireland that offered the Give it a Try programme to over 2,000 young girls who played rugby for the first time.
Maybe he’s not aware that across the water this weekend England will host France in what will be the highest-attended women’s rugby game of all time with over 50,000 tickets sold.
Maybe he has no idea of the potential for growth in women’s rugby that could, with the right investment and planning, lead to Ireland selling out rugby stadiums in Ireland in a few years.
If there were miners who were digging in mineral-rich soil for years, and they knew that just nearby there was another mine, that required a little more digging to get to, don’t you think that they would try and reach it?
They have the equipment, they have the experience, but they need more miners and a good plan.
If you were in charge and your employees said “who gives a f**k about that other mine?” what would you think?
The reality is, it’s all about the money. We need money for investment, we need investment for development, we need development for performance, and we need performance for success.
Success brings support and sponsorship. The source of the money. One big turning circle that for sure can produce results, with the RFU in England the biggest case study so far.
I often hear the argument from keyboard warriors and the naysayers of women’s rugby that “the women don’t deserve support from the union because they don’t sell enough tickets to their games.”
I’ve spent years, and an awful lot of money, buying tickets to support rugby in Ireland. I’ve been to Musgrave Park, Thomond Park, the Sportsground, Ravenhill, Landsdowne Road, Croke Park, Leicester, Coventry, London, Toulouse, Paris, and not to mention Cardiff a week before my Leaving Cert to supoport Munster and Ireland.
If those tickets, along with the tag on the many items of merchandise that I and other women have purchased, had come with a disclaimer stating “the money from these products will only be invested in men’s rugby” they might not have our money at all.
Ireland take on Scotland in Edinburgh at 8.30pm this Saturday.
An important fixture and a fight for the Irish to avoid taking home the wooden spoon for the first time in 19 years.