Leah Lyons: There’s no one size or shape for rugby

Irish international Leah Lyons last night expressed her shock and horror at being called ‘a heifer’ by a fan during Sunday’s Six Nations win over Wales at Donnybrook.

Lyons was one of the stars of the 35-12 win with the Cork player scoring a 15th-minute try.

However the celebrations were cut short when a family member later revealed the comments which had been directed at her by an Irish fan sitting in the stands during the game.

Lyons relayed the story on social media yesterday: “Poor choice of wording from a man in the crowd [Irish] yesterday... ‘Heifer’ in relating to myself.

“You are seated 3 rows away from my family, who heard you and surrounded by young children — girls and boys — who are all shapes and sizes. Rugby is a game for all!

“No one is perfect, I realise I’m an example of that, but have a bit of respect! Good to hear that someone in the crowd gave you a flake of a flag and told you to be quiet.

“Ain’t got nothing good to say, say nothing at all.”

Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night she described the comments as ‘sick.’ “I know I’m big, it is not that I am unaware of it but that was an unacceptable thing to say.

“For someone to call you a name like that was not nice. It is sick. I don’t take it to heart …. I am used to in a way and it doesn’t bother me.

“You get people who make nasty comments from time to time about your weight and your shape — you do hear them but the main thing is that you take no notice of what is said. But I wrote those comments on social media because I don’t want kids who were at the game and heard what was said to think that things like that are acceptable.”

Lyons began her rugby career 16 years ago in Fermoy — with her twin brother in the underage boys team as there wasn’t any girls teams — and then moved to Highfield RFC three years ago.

She has played with Munster since 2013 and is now in her second season with the national squad.

The 23-year-old Ballyhooley native added: “I’ve had people come up to me who might be worried that their kids are considered ‘big’ and they look up to me because of what I have achieved.

“I am so proud to be in that Irish jersey and have worked so hard to get there.

“But then it is so frustrating to hear something like this … and the fact that it came from an Irish fan makes it so much worse.

“Thankfully it is the exception because our supporters have been incredible and it means so much to us to have their backing.

“From a personal side of things, I always struggled with my weight. But I have worked and worked to get to be where I am today.

“People have told me that I needed to get fitter or to lose weight and I have done those things. And now I am reaping the rewards for those efforts.

“And that is the great thing about rugby — it is a game for all. There is no one size or shape.

“We have tall, small, big, speedy, it is a game for everyone.”


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