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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 9 August, 2020

'The whole game is completely dismantled' - Ex-boss on Ireland Women's rugby crisis

Philip Doyle delivered a passionate argument for change on Off The Ball this evening.

A WORST SIX Nations finish in 13 years.

A dismal campaign in which Ireland Women managed just one win and four defeats from their five outings, as they finished fifth. 

A first-ever Six Nations loss to Italy and now, a drop to 10th in the latest World Rugby rankings which sees Adam Griggs’ side below non-Six Nations playing Spain.

Ciara Griffin and Claire Molloy console each other after the game Dejection at the close of the Six Nations. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

This comes just six years after Ireland’s historic Grand Slam triumph in 2013, five years after that incredible World Cup run in which they recorded an historic victory over the Black Ferns, and four years after their second — and last — Six Nations title lift in 2015.

2017, of course, brought a hugely disappointing World Cup showing on home soil and since then, things have just spiraled downward and downward.

“The whole game is completely dismantled,” former boss Philip Doyle told Newstalk’s Off The Ball this evening.

While ex-captain Fiona Steed also joined Joe Molloy for an in-depth discussion on the crisis, Doyle delivered a passionate argument for change. ‘Goose’ feels that much of the problems stem from the 15s v 7s debate.

“It is an Olympic sport and they are going to go for qualification,” he said of the 7s, explaining why the IRFU put much of their focus on that discipline.

It’s very much the priority in Anthony Eddy and the IRFU’s view, and Doyle added that money is obviously another huge incentive.

Philip Doyle after the game Philip Doyle. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“But unfortunately, it’s been totally at the detriment of the 15s,” he continued. “We’ve asked for a technical review after the World Cup two years ago and we got a three-point aim for the next World Cup.

“One of them was to finish top-three in the Six Nations. Well, that’s obviously gone flat on its head straight off.

“So the big question for me is… the technical director of the women’s side is Anthony Eddy. The whole game is completely dismantled and where is he on this point? Where are we going here? We’ve asked this a couple of years ago, again, for direction. The technical direction is just non-existent as far as I can see. We are going backwards.”

Elaborating on the dismantlement and ‘complete neglect’ of 15s, the Grand-Slam winning coach said: “There won’t be a 15s team to play for basically.

“I am very, very disappointed. You’ve got to see it from my point of view and people like me. We built something brilliant over many years and it’s slowly but surely being dismantled, bit by bit as far as I can see. 

“It’s not being looked after at all. I’m very annoyed about. Why shouldn’t I and why shouldn’t everybody else be?

“It’s really just down to a lack of support, lack of effort, lack of infrastructure in the AIL. There’s no one working together on it, no technical direction from them [the IRFU].

“It hasn’t been brought forward. We gave them a fantastic base to go from but there’s no technical direction. There’s nothing going forward. The coaches are saying, ‘We made progress.’ No they didn’t. They made no progress this year. They’re going backwards.”

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Niamh Briggs, Philip Doyle and Joy Neville Doyle with Niamh Briggs and Joy Neville at the 2014 World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While he does understand the lure of the 7s, Doyle believes that both must be treated equally.

“Don’t prioritise it. You can’t prioritise it at the detriment of the 15s. You just can’t. The 15s are the backbone. There wouldn’t be any 7s if there was no 15s, end of story.”

While Doyle has voiced his concerns to the IRFU’s higher-ups, he says that they won’t entertain him because of his criticism.

But in short, what needs to happen?

While fundamental skills and improvements on the pitch definitely do need to be seen, there are much bigger issues that run deeper. From the ground up, the IRFU must start at grassroots level, he concluded.

“A complete overhaul of the whole season structure and proper infrastructure put in place for all teams in the AIL, inter-provincial,” he concluded, “coaching-wise.

“That’s it in a nutshell. It’s extremely doable and relitively cheap for the IRFU in my eyes.”

You can watch the full discussion here:

Source: Off The Ball/YouTube

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Emma Duffy

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