‘Maybe you should go back to women’s rugby’

Several Irish women who have broken the glass ceiling by coaching elite men’s teams say the only problems they ever encounter come from the opposition.

‘Maybe you should go back to women’s rugby’

Several Irish women who have broken the glass ceiling by coaching elite men’s teams say the only problems they ever encounter come from the opposition.

Former Irish international Tania Rosser, who is a Stage 4 rugby coach, is the first woman to coach a senior men’s team in Ireland.

She is part of Clontarf’s senior men’s management (as skills coach) and is also head coach for their men’s second team. She revealed she has been told by opponents “maybe you should go back to women’s rugby. You don’t know anything about rugby.”

Rosser said the absence of coaching opportunities in the women’s game is why she is developing her skills and expertise in the men’s game. “Clontarf took a punt on me and, without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Once I felt the players wanted me it was an opportunity I was prepared to take.”

Lisa Fallon has worked with Cork City FC for the last six years and been video analyst with Northern Ireland’s men’s team. She said: “It actually doesn’t matter how good you are, or how much better you are than someone else. If someone out there doesn’t give you the opportunity, you can’t achieve anything.”

She said John Caulfield was pivotal to her progress and that she is now a Uefa Pro Licence holder and an assistant to Caulfield.

Fallon said:

John allowed me to go in under the radar, learn, make mistakes and make my mark, before they announced that I was first-team coach this year. He actually protected me while I was developing.

“I’ve never had an issue with the teams or players I’ve worked with. Players don’t care whether you’re male or female, they just want you to be good at your job.

“I’ve often had issues with the opposition managers who regularly ask if I’m the physio. There’s two ways of taking that.

“You could be offended because they think you’re less than you could possibly be, or just go ‘if you didn’t do your research and don’t know who I am or what I’m capable of, then, that’s your mistake.’ It’s an advantage I’ll happily take.”

Wexford camogie star Mags D’Arcy and the CEO of Rowing Ireland, Michelle Carpenter, were also among yesterday’s speakers. Carpenter noted that “even though we have equality in our sport on the water, we don’t have it on the bank”.

D’Arcy is the first woman to coach a men’s inter-county GAA team, initially as a goal-keeping coach with Wexford’s hurlers and now involved outfield and in individual consultations with players.

She said she has not encountered any negativity from male players but, like the rest of the speakers, stressed that it was a man — Davy Fitzgerald — who gave her the opportunity and confidence.

D’Arcy was also encouraged by a recent visit to Arsenal women’s training. “Everything they were doing we do in the GAA,” she said.

“The game, the player conditioning and the tactical work. We do it all here, just on a lesser scale because we have less face-to-face time with our players.”

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