Sunday Independent writer Niamh Horan has been widely criticized for an article which appeared in that newspaper today, under the headline "I never play a game without my tan': Girlz in the scrum" (sic).
In the piece, Horan recounts her time spent with Railway Union RFC women's team and seemed shocked that the players were in fact perfectly normal sportspeople who were passionate about their rapidly-growing pursuit. Instead, she reverts to the laziest of stereotypes and comparisons which will have done nothing to assist those attempting to widen the appeal of the game.
Apparently the club were asked by the IRFU to faciliate a Sindo journalist for this piece. In what seems to have been the most egregious selection decision in Irish rugby history since Gatty and BOD, or the exile of Trevor Brennan, they got Niamh Horan.
She begins the piece with what seems like a damned unnecessary and patronising sexualization of certain aspects of the sport.
"As I bent over with a blonde's hand slipping around the top of my thigh, I pondered how there are worse ways to burn calories on a sleepy Thursday evening.
"Now usually I'd make someone buy me dinner before getting into this position." Har, har.
"The Irish team have dominated front pages this week reaching the World Cup semi-final. So the powers that be decided I should try the sport first-hand.
"I just didn't think it would be quite so literal.
"'You should see where I usually put my hand,' laughed one of the players ... from somewhere underneath me.
"I was sandwiched - cheek to cheek - between two other girls, so I had to turn around to see her demonstrate how she would cling to a girl's shorts just below her crotch.
"This could well be the most action I've gotten in weeks."
Good to know Niamh. Carry on.
"Before we all get carried away, let me shatter your misconceptions about women in the sport." said Horan, who seems to assume the absolute worst in her readers.
Save us, Niamh, save us from our backwoods prejudices.
"These are not butch, masculine, beer-swilling, men-hating women."
All of them? Well thank Christ for that, then. Swilling is such an unladylike way to imbibe. And so what if they are?
"They are fit, toned, effortlessly pretty players who love nothing more than getting dolled up for the evening - and that's just to step on the field."
"'I never play a game without my tan,' says Shirley Corcoran, clocking my relief."
Relief at what? That somebody you don't know presents themselves on the field of play in a way that's acceptable to you? That's nice.
While she may have been entitled to recount her experience in this way, Horan's decision to concentrate on players' appearances and asking tiresome questions about the frequency of "rugby threesomes" with members of the men's section have led to some pretty scathing opprobrium across social media. Railway have released a statement distancing themselves from the piece.
"We were requested by the IRFU to facilitate a journalist from the Sunday Independent who wanted to do a training session and a feature on women's rugby in light of Ireland's world cup heroics." The Sandymount-based club said today.
"We are disappointed that what could have been a hugely positive article promoting women's rugby in Ireland at time of such achievement internationally has been reduced to stereotyping.
"The article in no way reflects our sport, its values and the values of our club and our members. Our club's primary goal is always the promotion of rugby, regardless of gender, and we support all teams in the club equally."
— Una Power (@joeystrider) August 10, 2014
"These are not butch, masculine, beer-swilling, men-hating women" Niamh Horan- national embarrassment http://t.co/zCsi0MiI4D
— Katie Dawson (@katiedawson23) August 10, 2014
Anyone else find this insanely patronising? "'I never play a game without my tan': Girlz in the scrum" http://t.co/TFHHt5BKOF
— Alice Whittaker (@WhittakerAlice) August 10, 2014
— Ant O'Fearghail (@aofarre) August 10, 2014