Player representatives call for ‘genuine culture change’ in IRFU

Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Claire Molloy met with Ministers

 Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat and Cliodhna Moloney were three of the representatives that met with Government ministers. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat and Cliodhna Moloney were three of the representatives that met with Government ministers. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Any real progress in relations between Irish international women rugby players and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) will have to be accompanied by “a genuine culture change within the IRFU from the top down” said a statement released by a group of former and current international players.

Four of the players, Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat, Claire Molloy and Clíodhna Moloney met with Government representatives on Monday on behalf of close to 60 players who were signatories to a letter that was highly critical of the way the IRFU had been dealing with issues involving the national team.

Last week the players went over the head of their union and sent the letter to Minister for Sport Catherine Martin and Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers charging their governing body with having “inequitable and untrustworthy leadership.” It added how the players had “lost all trust and confidence” in the union.

The IRFU quickly responded saying they rejected the “overall tenor” of the letter and that it was “disappointing” that a group of players would “come out with a series of allegations” while two independent reviews were ongoing.

The union subsequently rowed back on that approach after a number of members of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media said the tone of the IRFU statement was not conciliatory. The IRFU then announced that it would make public the entire contents rather than just the findings of two reviews currently taking place.

Monday’s statement said that in future the women players hoped to be part of a governing body which valued their involvement at all levels in the game.

“We know these may well make uncomfortable reading for all involved,” it said. “But we are determined that they at least can be used as a starting point to bring about the sort of change that means women and girls will feel welcomed, included and valued as part of the Irish rugby community at all levels and that they will be much better represented across all aspects of governance.”

Overall the players welcomed their meeting with the government officials saying that it was a “positive and constructive meeting.” But it also suggested that they would be looking for concrete changes in attitude within the union.

They said the IRFU should become a union “which listens to women, uses that insight to do things differently and one which understands that meaningful inclusion of women at every level will lead to a game which better serves everyone in Ireland.”

Last week the Rugby Football Union appointed Jatin Patel as its first head of diversity and inclusion. The role includes social and racial equality, communication campaigns, diversity and public and organisational policy.

“We know this process will take time,” added the player’s statement. “We also note that the IRFU’s most recent statement to the media (making the contents of the two current reviews public) suggests better collaboration from the New Year with players and we welcome this.

“We want to be the last group of players who ever have to go through this and we feel hopeful that change for the better is more than possible.”

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