Step Backwards for Women’s Sport in Ireland

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There will be no outing at the Aviva Stadium this season for the Irish Women’s Rugby team.  Sport for Business believes that is a backwards step, and we at 4 the Love of Sport agree with them.  Details of the matches in the RBS Six Nations were recently published and both of Ireland’s home matches (against England and France) will be played at Ashbourne Rugby Club.

In February now retired captain Fiona Coghlan made history by leading the team out to play Italy at the Aviva, following on from Brian O’Driscoll’s last home game in an Irish shirt.  Despite the heroics of beating New Zealand and reaching a World Cup semi final in August, there will be no repeat for her successor.

While there will be words about ‘Fortress Ashbourne’ and the need to be realistic about the appeal of the Women’s game, it is both disappointing and frustrating at the fact that this step back from what was a positive move only nine months ago has been taken.

You never achieve greatness by being realistic.  You never hit the heights of potential by settling for small incremental improvements.  Over 500,000 watched Ireland play England in Paris in the World Cup semi final.  The team who showed what was possible deserved a greater vote of confidence.

France, England and Ireland  are playing at a higher level than the other teams in the 6 Nations and these two games would show the game at a very high standard.  England would draw a crowd regardless even if most of those in the stadium to watch the men had retreated to the bars.  It would have been an opportunity to show that Ireland as a nation take Women’s sport seriously and show themselves as a beacon for others.

The game between France and England will take place at Twickenham in March.

The above article is reproduced with the permission of Sport for Business.  Momentum is growing within women’s sport, as evidenced by the sale of 55,000 tickets to watch the England women’s football play a friendly in November.  (The English FA were taken by surprise and had to cap ticket sales, so unfortunately we’ll never know how high the sales could have been.)  Ireland’s women did amazingly well this year, winning the Grand Slam and then beating New Zealand and reaching the semi final in the World Cup so it is very sad that they aren’t being rewarded with at least one fixture at the Aviva Stadium.

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