The She-Wolves

Ireland’s womens team (the she-wolves?) completed a memorable maiden Grand Slam in a Milan field barely fit for purpose on Sunday  – our knowledge of the women’s setup is shamefully lamentable, so we tapped up Sarah Lennon to tell us about the backdrop to all this fun and games.

It has been ten years since Ireland’s women’s team won their first 6 Nations game, in the tournament’s second season. Prior to this, there was a Home Nations tournament, but changes to the tournament were made to closer reflect the structure of the men’s game – France and Spain made up the other two berths. Ireland’s maiden win was against the Spanish (las lobas?), who were later shown the door after a decision to mirror the men’s tournament saw the introduction of Italy.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for the Irish women to get here, and while all the recent adulation is completely deserved, it is an indictment of the self-obsessed Irish media that it was only when the women were on the cusp of a Triple Crown against Scotland (against the backdrop of a less than stellar tournament from the senior men) that they suddenly turned their focus to the Irish women’s team.

While there was coverage on the IRFU and RTE websites of the opening game against Wales, it didn’t make major waves. It should have, as it represented Ireland’s first win in Wales in eight seasons. The following match saw Ireland take on England, the perennial champions of this tournament, and a staggering 25-0 win raised quite a few eyebrows. Despite it bring a weakened English team due to player rotation ahead of the Rugby 7s World Championships, it represented an outstnding victory, equivalent to the lads beating New Zealand by a similar margin.

Next was a trip to Scotland to play for the Triple Crown … with no coverage online or on TV. The 30-3 scoreline failed to demonstrate the tough nature of the win, but with the Triple Crown in the bag, the press and broadcast media sat up and paid attention. The next game (home vs France) was streamed on the RTE player (television coverage proving impossible as it clashed with the U-20’s and their sponsored jersies) and then finally, the Grand Slam decider made the cut for RTE proper (being subject to mindless analysis from Frankie surely made the she-wolves feel on a par with the men), the first time that the Irish women had appeared on Irish television. They had appeared on British television before though, in a World Cup game against England – that was on Sky Sports, a commercial broadcaster without a public service remit.

The many women who have competed for their country down the years will all share a portion of Ireland’s history-making . None more so than former captain Sarahjane Belton who made it into the 2006 World XV and was forced to retire in 2008. Belton’s pride was obvious as she sat on an RTE panel during the historic broadcast last Sunday.

In many ways the women’s game represents completely the supposed heirarchy of rugby in Ireland. Although it may say ‘UCD’ beside Brian O’Driscoll’s name in the programme, you’re unlikely to see him kitted out at the Belfield Bowl, however the women who lifted the 6 Nations trophy last Sunday can be seen on any given Sunday in their club strips at Annacotty,  Anglesea Road, Stradbrook or Shaw’s Bridge.

As things stand there are no international matches between each 6 Nations tournament, with the exception of the odd friendly with the aforementioned disenfranchised Spanish. There is an annual Inter-pro with three games for each side and the traditional decider between Leinster and Munster – these are generally a warmup for the Six Nations in November / December meaning that the Provincial/International season is around three months long. The rest of the year the women represent their club sides in league and cup matches. The system is a throwback to the amateur days of rugby, and of course the women are amateur and juggle the onerous training schedule with day jobs and college, in some cases in the UK.

The commitment and dedication shown by the women to the cause hasn’t always been reflected in investment by the IRFU. Some of the current squad will tell of having to buy their own jersies or pay for their own flights to represent their country in the not so distant past. That’s changed now , with protocols agreed in advance of travelling to Wales, Scotland and Italy after last season’s disgraceful trip to Pau. On that occasion, the IRFU accepted ‘some responsibility’ for an overnight, 17-hour trip, with the women arriving only a few hours prior to kickoff.

There is a good feeling about the Ireland women right now and television broadcasts of the homecoming also contained the news of a large investment programme from the IRFU. The women have put themselves in a position to qualify for the Rio Olympics and would be the only Irish team there, as the men will not be in attendance. The Olympics will represent another stage for many of this Grand Slam team and can only serve to continue the growth of the sport in Ireland – plus Rio will be a BLAST for any travelling fans! Player numbers are on the rise with new teams springing up everywhere, particularly in Leinster –  Old Belvedere fielded a J2 team this season with player numbers many men’s teams would envy.

Having taken major steps forward, it is imperative that RTE and the IRFU build on the support they have given to the sport this season. It would be a massive boon if the 6 Nations matches were scheduled for broadcast next season from the off. There is no doubt that winning the Grand Slam and the associated publicity, along with the hoped–for Olympic qualification, will encourage newbies to take up the sport. A recent underage girls blitz in Naas rugby club saw dozens of teams competing, many of whom were from non-traditional ruby backgrounds. Development through these avenues, an increase in playing numbers alongside support from the union and media, and the Irish women can build on this success and compete at the highest stage towards 2016 and beyond.

With thanks to Sarah Lennon.  Give her a follow on twitter here.

Advertisements

27 Comments

  1. Connachtexile

     /  March 21, 2013

    Enjoyed the Italian game a lot even if the pitch was a quagmire. Would like to see the women’s team play again under a better pitch. There will always be rugby-heads like me who’ll watch any game of rugby and with increased exposure will come increased interest. Just get rid of Frankie Sheahan!

    • It was a shame the conditions didn’t allow them to be seen in their best light, because in the other game their handling skills were their best attribute. We posted recently about the men’s team’s woeful passing statistics; the women’s team were more or less the opposite, with a game oriented towards keeping the ball alive and using forwards in wide channels.

  2. Amiga500

     /  March 21, 2013

    Question – would having the women’s game before the corresponding mens 6N fixture cut the pitch up too much to be unworkable? It’d get the players into stadiums more fitting for the occasion and get bigger crowds.

    The obvious disadvantage being it would make it harder for families/supporters to afford/get tickets to along to watch… thus, many may prefer not to make that move anyway.

  3. zdm

     /  March 21, 2013

    First of all, huge congratulations to all involved in an amazing tournament for the Women.

    This achievement is all the more notable for the disgraceful handling of the elite (or any level) women’s game in Ireland. I’ve played a few seasons now at Junior league level in Ireland and I can tell you that a men’s team pushing for qualification to the bottom All Ireland league wouldn’t have to put up with the level of amateurism forced on our elite women’s team.

    I’ve spoken previously with a few people involved in the Ulster women’s side and I’ve heard that they aren’t allowed to get changed for the match at Ravenhill – they only get access to the stadium 30 minutes before kick off!

    This situation is beyond embarrassing and will hopefully change immediately. It’s just a bit unsavory that the women had to prove their worth as am asset before the IRFU take any interest.

  4. Lads, cheers to you and, most of all, Sarah for this.

    Regarding the lack of media coverage: it’s undesirable, but sadly limited neither to rugby or Ireland. Watched a few games in a women’s World Cup a few years back and have kept an eye on it since, having enjoyed the matches I saw very much (some great stuff played).

    PS. Poor Spain!

  5. Firstly huge congratulations and respect to the women’s team on a historic grand slam. Think you may be a bit harsh on the media, as Larry has pointed out this situation is not unique to Ireland or the sport of Rugby, the media everywhere only take notice when your winning, regrettable but an unfortunate fact of life.

    Its carpe diem time for the IRFU to use this great achievement (done in largely despite their efforts and not because of them) to put more financial resources into vigorously promoting the women’s game.

    I read yesterday that there are discussions to alter the format of the women’s’ six nations into two tiers (Eng, Ire, Fra in tier 1 and Ita, Wal, Sco in tier 2), http://scrumqueens.com/news/drastic-changes-6-nations-proposed

    That would be retrograde step IMO and could drastically reduce, if not kill off, interest/participation in the game for the ‘tier 2’ sides which of course would have very negative ripple repercussions for Ireland , England and France as well.

  6. Great article guys & Sarah. Really interesting to read about the wider contract. Couple of observations. Went to see the ladies in Lasswade when I was over in Edinburgh & was really blown away by their skill level & expansive game. Scrummaging was also top notch. There’s more of it as they don’t seem to kick the ball away as much and a lot less resets as it seems to focus more on technique (lovely straight backs all round) than on pure power & gamesmanship.

    Watching the Italy game was emotional & nail biting. That turnover in the last 10 minutes in their own 22 should amazingly cool heads and the ability to grind out a win when the conditions are against your game plan and the momentum has swung away from you.

    In other words, there was a lot on display that’s currently lacking in the men’s set up. My better half pointed out that there’s strong amateur traits in the women’s side, in other words, doing the basics well, taking another player with you & clearing out the ruck in that way. Whatever way you look at it, the women’s team play exciting rugby that is really fun to watch.

    Id have to agree with Larry in that I think you’re somewhat harsh on RTE. Although there is absolutely a public service remit in their broadcasting, they cannot be solely supported by the license fee a la the BBC and so also have to fund their output commercially. Up until the Italian game, would it have been commercial viable to show the women’s games? My gut, unfortunately says no.

    As Ali Donnelly mentioned over on Twitter, it’s the job of the IRFU to grow the women’s game rather than broadcasters. to be fair, according to Philip Doyle, they received everything they asked for, including a strength & conditioning coach, which, according to the players and seen with my own eyes, made a massive difference in their tournament. However the onus is massively on the IRFU to move with the momentum these victories have created and continue to develop this.

    Fianlly, I’d like to thank the women’s team and coaches for providing the best rugby & memories of my season so far and being so humble and approachable. There’s that old saying that Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astair did, backwards and in heels. This is the playing field the women are on as amateur athletes, performing at a high level while supporting themselves with jobs & education. They won the grand Slam, backwards & in heels.

    • Couldn’t agree more on the skills shown by the women, particularly in the set piece and the the way they didn’t cough up a penalty when Italy drove relentlessly up the pitch in the second half and then won the ball back showed great discipline. Demonstrates a) what good players the women are and b) the importance of good coaching; great job by Philip Doyle and the rest of the coaching team. In the mens’ game IMO we have a) above but are lacking in b)

  7. Great article.

    In terms of support for the team, I do have sympathy for the IRFU and RTE. The IRFU face on the one hand a long list of areas we fans think they should invest more in – the women’s team, Connacht, Johnny Sexton’s new contract, etc. On the other hand, when they try to maximise revenue – corporate tickets, Aviva naming rights, food and drink sales – we also complain. RTE face a problem of limited time. There is only so much rugby they can show over a weekend before non-sports fans will complain.

    That said, while forgiving them for the past, I think they can do better in the future. There are people such as myself who’ll watch any rugby game, U20s, womens, whatever. However, I speculate that putting a successful women’s team on prime time tv, and giving it mainstream media coverage, could draw in a lot of curious female viewers. They may not ever consider giving it a go themselves, but they would be interested in seeing women playing the game.

  8. red razors

     /  March 22, 2013

    at the risk of giving him a platform he doesn’t deserve [!], what do people make of george hook’s contention that the women should play with a ball one size smaller?

    • What about the contention that the women should play with George Hook’s head?

    • zdm

       /  March 22, 2013

      After this years respective tournaments, I’d say it would be more appropriate if the men’s team played with a smaller ball…

    • Ha I’d have to agree with zdm. Judging by what we’ve seen, them seem to be doing just fine with the regular sized one.

  9. ColumboKnows

     /  March 22, 2013

    Very interesting article there. My wife would love it. I just have a couple of questions, if you don’t mind.

    The title, perhaps jokingly, refers to the Irish Women’s rugby team perhaps being called the She-wolves (re: the Wolfhounds). Then the contributor mentions a previous victory against Spain, who she, perhaps jokingly, could nickname *their* team the Las Lobas… (re: Lobos) which is Spanish for the ‘She-wolves’. Now, sorry for wasting your valuable time, but bear with me here.

    I’m no expert, but I was under the impression that the Spanish men’s rugby team did not call themselves Los Lobos, but rather Los Leones. And is it not in fact the case that the Portuguese men’s rugby team that is nicknamed Os Lobos. So the question I’d like to ask is: where were you all on the night this brutal, criminally ill-thought-out joke was committed?

  10. PatrioticPredator

     /  March 22, 2013

    It’s all very well to paint the egalitarian utopia portrait, to blast the national broadcaster and to celebrate the successes of the Irish Ladies’ team. Popular moves one and all, I’d reckon. But this goes a bit far in some ways for me.

    I mean, the ‘historic press-conference’? Really? Is Thucydides seriously cursing the fact that he wasn’t born in an era when the Irish Women won their maiden Grand Slam?
    (And maiden win, maiden slam. Aren’t all the ladies’ teams wins, losses and slams and spoons maiden in a way?)

    Lambasting RTÉ for poor rugby coverage is spot-on. No coverage of Scotland -v- Ireland’s ladies rugby? Well, there’s been no coverage of many of Leinster’s recent games, and rugby is the only professional team sport we play to any international standard, and the demand was clearly there. Women’s rugby we clearly play to international standard, and that’s great. But fact is it’s amateur, so one can hardly complain about them having to kit themselves out till recently in the same breath that one expresses bewilderment that their games weren’t live on the telly.

    And where was the demand? Would the numbers have justified televising that game? Is there a genuine interest in women’s rugby swelling among the populace, or is that not the case in reality? I mean, the author seems to be suggesting that once the wheels came off Ireland’s men’s campaign, then all media coverage should have shifted over to the fair sex version. That seems a tad unrealistic.

    Are people really queuing up and break down the door to get in and watch these women play? I mean, people who aren’t friends or family?

    Irish people are always happy to see our own succeed. Rugby is a man’s game, but we’re thrilled to see some of our lasses do well at it. Does that mean we want to watch it down the pub on a Friday night while snaffling beer and chips? Probably not. Everyone was thrilled Katie Taylor succeeded and out-classed all opponents at the Olympics in boxing, which is another man’s sport. But are Irish people now fascinated with women’s boxing? Well, no.

    And on that topic, Katie’s a special talent, and she manages to box at a level which means she can compete and beat the men, and she’s miles ahead of any female competitor. Her footwork and speed are a pleasure to watch. Jokes aside about the men’s handling this year, I’d still fancy them to nick a match against the ladies, even under the current coach. Are the women playing such remarkable rugby that it miraculously compares in skill level to the men’s game? Honestly?

    And finally there’s the femininity issue. Women who look less like women and more like men have a large advantage if they want to play a man’s sport. Most people don’t want to watch bruising collisions between two twenty-stone female behemoths thundering along at full tilt on a wet Saturday. It’s as simple as that, and that’s not going to change.

    Are there any women’s sports men insist on playing that give men who look and act like women a clear competitive advantage?

    Well… apart from soccer…?

    • zdm

       /  March 22, 2013

      Most of your post is pernicious bullshit but the final paragraphs that are particularly galling.

      What makes a sport a man’s sport? I mean considering most competitive sports were devised in the essentially sexist atmosphere of the late 1700’s to early 1800’s, that doesn’t give much room for maneuver.

      By your “no-one wants to see” comment, you are confusing your own opinion with that of the general public and also assuming that sexual attractiveness is an essential criteria for sports women. In any case, I’m sure the women’s team won’t loose too much sleep over it.
      I assume by extension that you think that male rugby players are automatically better rugby players if they look more masculine? Perhaps we should award 6 points for tries scored by players with beards?

      • PatrioticPredator

         /  March 22, 2013

        Pernicious meaning you disagree with it and wish to attack me? Interesting use of language. And the 18th and 19th centuries were sexist? Cry me a river of perniciousness and manoeuvre yourself towards somebody who gives a fig about your P.C. world-view and your feewings.

        Sexual attractiveness was never mentioned by me, so not sure where you’re going there… whatever turns you on, I suppose.

        Men and women are equal, but are not the same. Now, some people might wish that there weren’t, but I’m not one of them. As for it being just my opinion, that’s fair enough- it is, and I’m entitled to it, despite what you may think as a feminazi. But it’s also backed up by the cold hard fact that people don’t want to pay money to watch women playing this sport. I’m not knocking the team, or causing them to ‘loose sleep’, whatever that might entail. I’m happy they did well. I just have no interest in women’s rugby, like the overwhelming majority of the population of this planet. If you do, then get on with it, stop your moaning and be happy.

        Or go on getting irate with large periods of time… but bear in mind I’ve a sneaking suspicion the 18th and 19th centuries don’t give a toss about you, so you should probably stop stressing over them. Either way.

    • Greetings Patriotic Predator, couple of points on your points if you will.

      Thucydides? Really? Are you not being a little bit pedantic here? I don’t recall any major objections to the 09 Grand Slam being referred to as historical, or bringing up Herodotus. I’m of the belief history is huge, consistently evolving and furthermore a matter of opinion in many ways. And my opinion, as little as it’s worth, is that the Irish Women made history with their first Grand Slam. Also my understanding is that maiden refers to a young girl or unmarried women. In other words a certain type of women. The Shewolves seem pretty diverse to me so not everything achieved by them or another women’s rugby team can be characterised as maiden.

      Amateur sports have a place on Irish TV as the GAA will no doubt point out. And they have kit sponsors so the senior teams don’t have to shell out for their own kit. I agree the RTE & TG4 should show more rugby, in particular that of Connacht and I agree that it is unlikely, as I pointed out earlier, that women’s rugby would have been a commercial option for them prior to this. However I think the momentum created by this achievement leaves that open to consideration. And I didn’t in any way read the article as a suggestion we all should have downed tools as supporters of the men’s game, I think you’re on your own with that one. And for the record, I think most rugby supporters are already pretty comfortable with following more than one campaign at once.

      I’m not in the business of speaking for other people but from my own experience I hopped on a bus in Edinburgh with 4 other lads to make the 45 odd minute trip to Lasswade to watch the women. There were thousands of people in Ashbourne for the French game. I’m not related to any of the team, and although I’d be well up for being their mate, I’m not. And I doubt everyone else at either of those games was either. I appreciate the audiences aren’t comparable to international men’s rugby but I don’t think you’re being overly dismissive in this regard. And for the record the effort that their friends and family have put in to support them long before they made the 6:01 is beyond reproach also.

      In relation to your next point I attended the women’s game in Edinburgh with 4 guys, as mentioned. Each was as enamoured with the match as I was, although we were just on the beer, no chips to be had. And I watched the Italian game with my better half, who had as much interest in the outcome as I did. Judging by the comments here and on my Twitter feed it seems male supporters have an interest in the game too. Obviously there’s always a bandwagon element as with Katie but as far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. Success of Irish athletes brings support, not the other way around. Cynical maybe, but realistic.

      Your points on Katie Taylor are correct. However I would also class the Irish women’s rugby team as exceptional athletes. I watch a lot of rugby both live and on the telly box. Various AIL divisions, rabo, Heineken Cup & international. The women played some of the best rugby I’ve seen this season. Not women’s rugby. Rugby. The skills of which are transferrable across both genders.

      Your next comment on the appearance of the women riles me a little if I’m honest. Firstly, I wonder if you’ve actually looked at them. They’re in all shapes and sizes, each one an athlete in a different shape, like most high level rugby teams. And like most groups of women you put in a room together, some are more traditionally feminine than others. That doesn’t massively affect their ability to play the game. I appreciate your point that it helps to be larger to play certain positions (I think that was a point you were making under that snide tone) but it certainly doesn’t preclude you from playing rugby if you’re not “a 22 stone behemoth”. Are you honestly suggesting that we should be watching women’s rugby if they’re pretty and no one would want to if they’re not? Cos that’s sure what it sounds like. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here and hoping that’s not your point.

      The Irish women’s rugby team neither look or act like men. They’re tough as nails warriors playing a game they love. Being skilled, fast, fit and strong aren’t characteristics that male athletes have exclusively. You’ve a pretty narrow definition of femininity if you think those things and being female are mutually exclusive.

      Also, the fact that you had to pull out the term feminazi in your rebuttal to zdm indicates to me that firstly, you’re not wild about feminism and are misconstruing what’s it about as a purely negative thing. It’s not but that’s not a topic for a rugby blog. But mainly it indicates you resorted to name-calling in refuting his points. And that’s not cool. I’m not sure if you’re new here but we try to keep our disagreements here based on rugby rather than personal comments. Maybe something to remember for the future. Personally, I tried to keep my analysis of your comments as neutral but I failed towards the end because, in the words of the Magnetic Fields, I don’t like your tone.

      • Xyz

         /  March 23, 2013

        Does the use of the term feminazi satisfy the invocation of Godwin’s Law or is there a particular corollary that is more relevant? Either way, it is a very effective way to let people know they can stop reading now a comment!

      • PatrioticPredator

         /  March 23, 2013

        Somebody watches Q.I.! Settle down there, smartypants.

        Feminazi really only referred to the original commentor, who was less than tolerant of my opinion that rugby is a man’s sport, with the ‘pernicious B.S.’ and the sexist centuries. There’s no need to attack me for stating the bleeding obvious. Feminazi in that sense was not intended as an insult, but rather to imply that in my view everyone’s entitled to their own ideas about the world, yet in other people’s views some ideas are deemed unacceptable. Yet, ironically, those would be the same people claiming to be incredibly tolerant of everyone (but only once they have the same world view).

        Brass tacks: I just stated my opinion, and I’m not trying to slag anyone off or wind anyone up. I think rugby is a man’s sport- if you think otherwise, I’m not trying to stop you (unlike some).

        Why is it a man’s sport? Well, tradition would obviously point to that, with the Irish women’s team being around for just 20-odd years. Before that point was rugby non undoubtedly a man’s sport? I’d argue that it remains so regardless, because it’s high contact and physically demanding. Men tend to be stronger than women. I’d consider Olympic weight-lifting a man’s sport too. Women still do it, and that’s grand… but they’d tend to be more masculine types, wouldn’t you say? And some people like that. And that’s all fine and dandy. I still don’t personally wish to watch it. If you do, please, don’t let me stop you.

        But, by the same token, perhaps don’t demand that I do watch it, along with everyone else in the country. Personally I don’t wish to see endless coverage of women’s rugby on the airwaves, or even the coverage of the men’s 6 Nations binned because the ladies are on a streak… and i don’t think I’m being presumptuous in doubting I’m in a tiny minority on that one.

        That said, I’m honestly happy that the Irish team did well. Sincere congratulations to them and to any of you who traveled to support them. And for all those of you who do love women’s rugby, bloody good luck to you! Have fun

    • zdm

       /  March 23, 2013

      Here’s the rub though: I said your opinion was bullshit but I didn’t say you couldn’t hold it, hell I didn’t even say you shouldn’t write it on a post about women’s rugby on a blog about rugby but you should surely be able to defend it without calling me a nazi.

      You don’t like women’s rugby? That’s cool, I don’t like figure skating and I’d say I’m probably in the majority there too in this country but someone must enjoy it and so it was on the telly the other day so do you know what I did? I picked up my remote control and I changed the channel. I’m not sure where figure skating fits on your man scale but I didn’t have to fight too hard to resist the urge to complain about the male athletes on any figure skating blogs.

      • PatrioticPredator

         /  March 23, 2013

        Yes, you used a few polysyllabic words you didn’t quite understand and also defined my opinion ‘bullshit’. Tell me, you were in the debating society at uni weren’t you? Can always spot them.

        I didn’t call you a nazi, I called you a feminazi… and I doubt you’re all about freedom of expression all of a sudden since I pointed out your intolerance, so you’re kidding nobody, thus I’ll reaffirm that, if I may.

        I wrote my opinion about women’s rugby on a blog about rugby (how very dare I?!) [and one where the bloggers admit to knowing nothing about women’s rugby themselves, for shame!] and stated that I don’t particularly care for it for the above reasons. The women’s rugby was suddenly on the telly, and I quickly turned it off. You know why? Because it was rubbish.

        So I don’t want to see more of it, and I don’t want it bumping the men’s rugby in the schedule. Because it’s piss-poor. Piss-poor quality. Piss-poor skills. 24-stone beasties who can’t pass or kick boshing it up the middle angrily because to them a period is a only punctuation mark. That’s not a great spectacle. Boo. Less of that kind of thing, if you please.

        That said, as a bearded gentleman, I do approve of your suggestion to have 6 points awarded per try if the try-scorer has copious facial hair. However, for the cause of equal opportunities, I would certainly wish for that law change that to be extended to both sexes playing rugby.

  11. In these days of cheap-and-easy online channels (look at RTE News Now or even Radio Nova’s 12 – twelve! – stations on their app), how long will it be before RTE spot the opportunity of setting up a digital channel for sports as well as news? That would fit right in with their remit for public service (the channel could specialise in “minority” sports, such as women’s rugby or even what hey, Leinster matches) and could give their advertisers extra exposure.

    What am I missing?

    • mxyzptlk

       /  March 23, 2013

      There’s a chicken-egg problem here: The argument is that there’s no demand for a product (women’s rugby) so people won’t watch, so they won’t put the product on the air. Therefore no one sees the product so no demand can ever be developed — how can most people develop an interest in something they have little to no exposure to? So the suggestion that no one would watch because there’s no interest is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      That’s where the digital channel could be promising. The capital outlay would be minor enough that it’s almost foolish not to put some otherwise minor sports on to see if interest can be generated. On the back of a grand slam, women’s rugby on such a channel would bring in some already-interested audience, and that combined with a televisual presence would drag in its wake a good deal more in audience numbers.

      I don’t want to step into the sexist mire of an argument above, and I don’t live in Ireland, so I’ll just say this with regard to women in contact sport: The same sort of complaints have occurred in the U.S. with regard to women in Olympic freestyle wrestling and now in mixed martial arts. I was a wrestler, and have seen women’s wrestling go from an oddity where they were fighting their way onto men’s teams to an NCAA-sponsored sport to an Olympic sport where many of the competitors can beat most men in their weight class. The Olympic women aren’t necessarily beating the Olympic men, but there’s plenty of testimony of the women beating DI NCAA wrestlers who spend time training at the Olympic Training Center. But for years they’ve had to deal with lack of support, lack of training, and weird opinions about how their competing in a traditionally men’s sport somehow existentially threatens gender stability. (There have been cases where girls who’ve had to wrestle on the boys high school wrestling team have made it to the state tournament, only to have other wrestlers forfeit and drop out instead of wrestling them.) What they’ve shown is that with support — better support, if not equal — they can not only hold their own, but because they lack some of the physical attributes men have, they’ve focused more on clean technique — which makes for fantastic matches. A decade ago a wrestling fan might give the women’s competition at the Olympics a miss; not a chance today, because you’ll miss out on some of the best overall wrestling. That in turn has helped men’s wrestling in the U.S. return some focus to technique over brute strength and conditioning, which is paying its own dividends.

      So all I’m saying is having women compete in a traditionally men’s sport is not a zero-sum game. With enough support and training, it can benefit both sides, and enough people will be interested that the opinions of those who are offended about female participation being un-ladylike will be negligible.

  12. red razors

     /  March 25, 2013

    wow, predator – i’m so glad that women everywhere have enlightened people like you to tell us what we should be doing in the pursuit of womanliness. would you care to instruct me on the appropriateness of wearing trousers or voting? i would greatly appreciate your input, as i seem to have been doing it wrong all this time.

  13. PatrioticPredator

     /  March 26, 2013

    Yes, because it follows anyone who isn’t dying to watch women playing rugby or weeing standing-up wishes to see female enfranchisement and trouserhood reversed a.s.a.p…. well done on your weak sarcasm and l.c.d. logic, b.t.w….. good for you, lass! Well done!!! Girl power!!!!!!

%d bloggers like this: