Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden went all David Corkery in the Senate last week, in claiming that women should be worried about their health and wellbeing if they decide to play rugby. His comments were initially reported by Catherine Sanz of The Times Ireland Edition.
Speaking to Communications minister Denis Naughten at the announcement that the Ladies' Gaelic football and camogie finals would be protected for free to air broadcast, Senator Leyden took to the pulpit on women's rugby.
“I am not a doctor, but it’s very rough,” he said. “It is a bit more physical than soccer or Gaelic football. There are inherent risks in too physical sports . . . I’m just saying, be careful. I don’t want to see anyone endangering their health and wellbeing”.
The Times inquired about the provenance of the research which led the senator formed these views, to which he responded...."somewhere". Upon further questioning from The Times, he said that he had found the research "on Google".
In the wake of some criticism for the expounding of these views, Senator Leyden released a statement on his website yesterday, in which he revealed his regret for any offence caused, admitting that his views were ill-informed.
I regret the offence caused to Women’s rugby by my recent comments. I have been contacted by a number of people regarding the participation of Women in Rugby and realise that my point of view was ill informed.
I have been made aware of many excellent initiatives around the country including one that was recently launched in County Roscommon, a partnership between Connaught Rugby, Creggs RFC and Roscommon County Council with the co-funding of a Club Community Rugby officer which will enhance the development of Rugby in Roscommon. Michael Glennon, Club Community Rugby Officer is visiting schools, communities and individuals to increase the profile and impact of the game at a local level and making it accessible to all.
The initiative has been rolled out in a number of schools including my local primary school, Fuerty N.S. where both boys and girls are getting to experience and enjoy Rugby, some are trying it out for the first time. There is a very successful and active Rugby Club nearby in Creggs.
Recently there was a Rugby Blitz on the playing pitches in the grounds of Donamon Castle with boys and girls from local primary schools playing against each other. I want to recognise the work of volunteer coaches up and down the country that have been fostering the participation of boys and girls in sport, including in the sport of Rugby. I realise that we need to support the participation of children and young people in all sports and activities in the interest of their health and well being.
I have also been made aware by several people of the recent decision by The IRFU to downgrade the position of Ireland Women's team head coach to a 6-month-contract on a part-time, casual basis. I fully support all players and this week, players both male and female across Ireland and the UK are wearing wristbands that read 'LEGACY', calling into question the legacy the IRFU want to leave women's rugby with, just after hosting the World Cup.
I fully support the legacy campaign.#legacy
The link to the initial report is here.