The IRFU’s attempts to clarify its position over advertising for a part-time Ireland Women’s head coach has done little to ease the criticism being aimed in its direction, with Rosie Foley calling on the national team to refuse to accept a casual coach, writes Simon Lewis.
The former Munster and Ireland star called the decision to replace full-time head coach Tom Tierney with an interim appointment as a“retrograde step” and “degrading”.
In an interview with Clare FM, she said: “This was one of the things you were hoping wouldn’t happen,” she said, “It’s a retrograde step, a terrible step. It’s terrible for women’s rugby and sport in general.
“I believe it’s time for our female rugby players to stand up to this and take the step forward that they’re not going to accept a part-time, casual coach.
"These girls are professionals in every manner and means that you can possibly have, and I just think it’s degrading really at this stage.”
The backlash had prompted the IRFU to issue a clarification yesterday, which cut little ice with female players.
“The IRFU wishes to address the confusion that has arisen in recent days regarding the coaching position for the Ireland Women’s team.
"The IRFU regrets any upset that it has caused,” the statement began and was in itself the subject of derision from Ireland prop Ruth O’Reilly, “How silly of us to be confused by a very plain speaking advert,” O’Reilly wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtags “#part-time #casual.
The essence of the IRFU’s statement was to reiterate its view that the position of the women’s head coach was not being downgraded and that Tierney was “a shared resource across the Women’s XVs and Sevens programmes”.
“He was not exclusively employed as a full-time Ireland Women’s XVs coach.” Furthermore, the governing body insisted that the reason for an interim appointment to the end of the 2018 Women’s Six Nations was to allow the IRFU to complete its review of the entire structure of the women’s game.
Such a root and branch review is understood to have no deadline to report but will “take as long as it takes”, according to an IRFU source.
In the short term, however, Ireland’s women face an uphill battle to prepare adequately for their Six Nations opener next February, particularly if the IRFU cannot find an interim head coach.
There is a training camp planned for the week after next that Eddy may take in a coaching capacity and a further camp around Christmas ahead of an annual non-cap friendly with Wales the week before the Six Nations campaign gets underway.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.