Norita Duggan hits out at IRFU’s approach to women’s game

Norita Duggan, a top club rugby coach, has expressed serious criticism of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) after its latest edict on how to approach the development of the women’s game in Ireland.

Having hosted a Women’s Rugby World Cup, the IRFU parted company with head coach Tom Tierney and now it has been announced that a new coach for women will be a part-timer, and for a period of just six months.

That has led to an outpouring of annoyance from people involved, among them Ireland centre Jenny Murphy, who tweeted: “A kick in the teeth for players. So much progress made by other nations and we take five steps backwards”

Last night, Highfield RFC coach Duggan, who has been involved in women’s rugby with club and province as a player and coach, hit out at the news.

“We have players in the club with ambition and Highfield has always been supportive of women’s rugby. We have been involved in top-class club competition and produced players for Munster and for Ireland. We’re proud of that and we’re of the belief that it should go on to help bring the game to a higher level.

“It disappoints me that any decision should be made that would stop the development of the game at 15s.

“It’s great to develop the sevens system but the 15-person game still has to be seen as a way forward to develop the game in this country.

“We have made significant progress throughout the province of Munster and, indeed, throughout Ireland.

“You only have to look at how good the Irish teams have got, the milestones they have produced, to know that it’s a growing game.

“I’m not quite sure where we go from here but it doesn’t strike me as a wise move to appoint somebody on a part-time basis to deal with a growing game and with people who are totally committed to growing the game.”

Former Ireland head coach Philip Doyle also believes it is time for the women’s team to fight back against the appointment of a part-time head coach on a six-month contract.

The IRFU posted the job vacancy on Tuesday, with criticism aimed at the governing body for downgrading the post.

Tom Tierney was previously employed on a full-time basis, on a three-year contract.

The IRFU said the decision to return the role to a part-time basis followed feedback from coaches they had spoken with, and a further decision on the nature of this role would be completed after the 2018 Six Nations.

The IRFU advertised the position, with any appointment coming “under the direction” of women’s director of rugby Anthony Eddy, who reports to performance director David Nucifora.


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