“Those English can go training and they can go home and recover. The Irish girls are going to work.”
These words from former Irish rugby star Fiona Coghlan summed up one of the major issues in Irish women’s rugby at the moment, as the Irish side continues to fight on after a year of controversy and setbacks.
Ireland’s heavy loss to England last Sunday, laid bare once the extreme challenges facing the Irish women’s rugby team, and Irish rugby as a whole.
Ex-internationals have questioned the IRFU’s planning after seven players were pulled from the XVs squad to join up with the 7s squad ahead of this weekend’s World Series tournament in Canada.
Another issue brought up was the difficulties and drawbacks of the amateur lifestyle and having to go straight back to work the Monday after a match.
Speaking on RTE’s Against the Head, Coghlan laid out the stark differences between a week in the professional English camp, and the amateur Irish camp.
Former Ireland captain @CoghlanFiona runs through the differences between professional and amateur match-week preparations with this indicative comparison #RTERugby #AgainstTheHead pic.twitter.com/LXrEmHMtAG
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) April 28, 2022
On the Monday, England would have an install which is like a walk-through session, and gym. Tuesday would be a fundamentals and fast day, and a gym session as well. Wednesday would be their big contact (session).
They’re looking to work at three minutes consistently, and this is where their squad is selected from.
Thursday’s a day off, Friday captain’s run, and Saturday match, repeat. And they do this throughout the season. They might have Monday to Wednesday as well in camp, and then go back to their club for the rest.
And then Ireland, they’re in work on Monday. Tuesday evening they might have a gym and skills session, in Dublin they might do it all together, or around the provinces they’ll do it on their own. Wednesday they’ll come into camp, they’ll have gym and install. Thursday, two sessions again, although they’d be light it’s still an awful lot.
A huge amount of them are either in college or doing something along those lines. Friday is your captain’s run and Saturday is your match. The big thing is about recovery as well.
Those English players can go training and they can go home and recover. The Irish girls are going to work.
The heads of Irish rugby face what seems to be an increasingly uphill battle to stem the bleeding in the women’s international game, after a year which saw them miss out on World Cup qualification.
Despite the recent announcements of increased funding and the introduction of a new position dedicated to the women’s game, it appears increasingly likely that more will have to be done to grow the game.