Ireland director of women's rugby Anthony Eddy has come under fire from members of the Irish women's squad for words given in a media briefing yesterday.
The director has spoken up for the first time since Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign ended with a dramatic loss to Scotland on September 25th.
Women's Rugby Ongoing Battles
In the aftermath of the loss, many called out the IRFU for lacklustre resources and investment into the women's game. Eddy addressed this on Monday.
"That's incorrect to be honest with you," he said. "Both programs have had a lot of resources from the IRFU thrown at them in recent years."
"There were nine fully-contracted players representing Ireland at Parma at the World Cup qualification process. There are three full-time IRFU staff coaching that programme."
Women's rugby in this country has seen a spike in interest similar to the Republic of Ireland women's soccer team, with the high profile World Cup qualifiers a testament to that.
A quite astonishingly defensive interview with Ireland's director of women's rugby who seems to suggest there are no major issues & that Ire are not in danger of being left behind by teams who are investing more. 🤔https://t.co/i9gjORHdSQ
— Scrumqueens - Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) November 8, 2021
Despite the growing interest, the sport has suffered some major setbacks this year, including the Connacht dressing room debacle which saw players get changed next to bins outside the RDS in September.
"People think one programme is being favoured over another," Eddy saod "I would clearly say they're wrong."
A resounding issue among women's rugby in this country is the lack of players contracted by the IRFU, with many still not being backed to play as professionals.
Eddy didn't show much urgency when talking about the issue. "We'll look at other opportunities to contract players," he said.
"There are players that are still in our program who are on development pathways, whether it's sevens or 15s."
"Some of those players will be front and centre in both forms of the game and will be utilised by Greg (McWilliams) over the coming years as well."
"At some stage the game will go professional, but when that happens I'm not too sure."
Ireland Player Reaction
In a week that should have been celebrated given Ireland's landmark autumn test match with the USA on Friday at the RDS, many players have taken to social media to air frustrations.
Prop Cliodhna Moloney - who is in camp with the Ireland team at the moment - was very strong in her criticism of the interview on Twitter.
I could have sworn slurry spreading season was spring… I stand corrected 👀 https://t.co/fgG8ef3CbR
— Cliodhna Moloney (@cmoloney3) November 9, 2021
The tweet was shared by Lindsey Peat, one of the most respected players in the squad.
Recent Ireland international Jenny Murphy called the comments 'spineless',
I honestly wish I was more surprised at this take from Eddy but I'm not.
Is this the voice of someone who cares about the women's game in this country?
Utterly deflating and I can only imagine what current players are feeling. https://t.co/xjviQTGnje
— Jenny Murphy (@jennymurphy045) November 9, 2021
While the IRFU are conducting two separate reviews into the women's game, including their failed World Cup campaign, Eddy doesn't think Ireland's situation is unique.
"The majority of countries are in similar positions to what ourselves are," he said. "They're trying to grow the game domestically and increase the player pool and increase player depth."
Eddy says ultimately he hopes the reviews can highlight the problems. Many insist they are right in front of the IRFU's eyes.
"It is a setback, not just 15s game, but women's rugby not to have an Irish team competing in a World Cup. It's disappointing, there's no doubt about it."
"The team was well prepared, I don't want to contaminate any findings from the review that's in place at the moment either, but I know the girls, the coaching staff, the girls themselves are disappointed not to have qualified and disappointed in their performances."