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'It just goes from bad to worse. The IRFU committee need to stand up now'

Bernard Jackman spoke about the decline of Irish women’s rugby on The42 Rugby Weekly podcast.

Ireland will not be at next year's World Cup.
Ireland will not be at next year's World Cup.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

THE ALL BLACKS are in town but there’s only one story dominating Irish rugby this week.

The fallout after a media briefing by IRFU director of women’s and 7s rugby Anthony Eddy has continued today, with Ireland Women captain Ciara Griffin expressing the disappointment she and her team-mates felt when reading Eddy’s comments.

Griffin said Eddy had since contacted her and “apologised in case people took offence to his comments.”

Read the full interview with Anthony Eddy here.

Ireland hooker Cliodhna Moloney voiced her displeasure at Eddy’s comments on Twitter on Tuesday, with a host of her Ireland team-mates since expressing their support online since, while Griffin also underlined that united stance today.

It’s the latest in a string of bad news stories in Irish women’s rugby, with Ireland having recently failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup, while the 7s team has also been falling short of targets set out by the IRFU.

Speaking on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly podcast, former Ireland international Bernard Jackman said the main IRFU committee now needs to take responsibility for the state of affairs in the women’s game in Ireland.

“The IRFU are usually more reactive to negative PR than they are to poor results, that’s my experience of it since I’ve become a pundit,” said Jackman.

“It just goes from bad to worse. I’m going to put this on the committee.

“The committee who are representing Irish rugby need to stand up now and actually demand some immediate answers because I don’t know whether they believe the review process works for Irish rugby. 

“It certainly doesn’t look to be working for the women’s game obviously. We had a review after the home World Cup [in 2017] and there’s been a continuous decline in our success and more and more negative stories.

“If your daughter was thinking about playing rugby and you’re reading what’s happening in women’s rugby this week, would you send her to a club to play? I think it’s incredible that we’ve let it get this bad.

“All of the committee people who are going to the (All Blacks) match in the Aviva on Saturday, having their pre-match meal and thinking everything is rosy, you have a responsibility to ask the right questions.

“And don’t just give us this, ‘It’s being reviewed.’ That’s not good enough, it just kicks for touch. As you kick for touch and delay things, there’s money being spent on a review and if you actually ask the people who are running the game what they have done, you’d get an answer pretty quick, or if you asked the people playing.

anthony-eddy IRFU director of women's and 7s rugby, Anthony Eddy. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

“And it’s not resource. The IRFU have put a lot of money into the game but at the moment, we’re at a crisis point in women’s rugby, we’re at a crisis point with referees in Ireland, we’re at a crisis point in coach development.

“Those are three fundamental areas and I know the committee have hired people to do the job but the responsibility goes back to the committee.

“I’ve spoken about this for the last five or six months, longer actually, and I haven’t ever called out the committee before but at the end of the day, they’re the guardians of the game.

“Are they happy walking into the Aviva on Saturday with what has gone on this week and on the back of what has gone in for the last seven or eight months?

“For some of our women’s players to have to go in front of the press and be as uncomfortable as they were this week because of a statement by the head of performance for the women’s game (Eddy), it just doesn’t make sense. 

“If the FAI did it, we’d all be sneering and it’s not a once-off. Everyone makes mistakes and the biggest issue with the women’s game is that Anthony Eddy said, ‘It won’t happen overnight’ (to turn it around). He has been in the position for seven years.

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“I read an interview with James Dyson this week and he was talking about the hoover. It took them 5,126 attempts to get the right hoover but the motto was ‘fail fast.’ Try something and if it’s not going to work, stop and try again.

“What have we actually done in seven years – not in the 7s game - to help the 15s game.

“Have we tried many things? I haven’t seen a huge amount of things being tried and just blaming the system and saying it won’t happen overnight… what have you tried, why hasn’t it worked, and what are you going to try next?”

Today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly also included Ireland legend Niamh Briggs’ views on Eddy’s comments and the reaction of the national team players since Moloney expressed her unhappiness.

The podcast saw Bernard, Murray Kinsella, and Ciarán Kennedy look ahead to the huge Ireland v All Blacks game on Saturday, as well as including a preview of the Ireland Women’s meeting with the US tomorrow night at the RDS.

You can listen to The42 Rugby Weekly below or on your favourite podcast app.

Bernard Jackman, Niamh Briggs, and Ciarán Kennedy join Murray Kinsella to discuss Ireland v All Blacks and the latest big story in Irish women’s rugby:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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