Brace yourselves, I’ve just seen the sorry excuse for a ‘women in rugby’ feature in today’s Sunday Independent (Irish Sunday ‘broadsheet’) and you know what that means…rant time!
In a week where Ireland’s women’s rugby team deservedly took over the front pages as well as the back pages of the newspapers, one might have expected a half decent attempt at a feature article. In the days after Fiona Coghlan, Niamh Briggs and their tough-as-nails teammates unceremoniously dumped the mighty Black Ferns from their ‘undefeated at a World Cup’ pedestal, there might have been incentive to focus on the enormity of the feat. When you consider that the New Zealand women’s team have one of the best win percentages in the women’s game and access to the same impeccable facilities and backroom support that their male counterparts do, then it puts what our team (formed from a senior player pool of just under 3700 women) achieved this week into mighty perspective.
But the most widely read Irish paper couldn’t focus on resources, grassroots development or female involvement at provincial level. Or even delve into the effect that the Irish 2013 Grand Slam win had on the numbers of girls and women taking an interest in the game. Nope.
Instead the women’s game was reduced to a cheap, tacky ‘Fifty Rucks of Grey’-style innuendo fest. Lowest common denominator journalism. To add insult to injury, the paper sent someone along who hadn’t even a basic grasp of the rules. I’m not saying they had to send someone who plays tag or sevens or full contract rugby but would a vague notion of what a lineout or a scrum entailed have been too much to ask? Obviously it was.
By reducing an entire sport to a couple of hundred words of lewd musings that could be set to the Benny Hill theme tune, the women who play the game at any level in Ireland have been done a massive disservice. Nice one, Irish Indo. Well done.