Lynne Cantwell calls for improved structures in women’s game

Former star fearful that all the progress Ireland made in heady days will be wasted

Lynne Cantwell: “There is a reality that there wasn’t any solid structures in place in rugby at that time and there wasn’t huge  changes made afterwards.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Lynne Cantwell: “There is a reality that there wasn’t any solid structures in place in rugby at that time and there wasn’t huge changes made afterwards.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Earlier this year World Rugby launched a global “Try and Stop Us” campaign that in their own words would revolutionise women’s rugby.

Figures from the governing body came tumbling out as they cited huge growth in women’s participation to 2.7 million with a 28 per cent increase in registered players since 2017.

In addition World Rugby said that more girls than boys came into the sport for the second year in a row and that more than 40 per cent of rugby’s 400 million fan base were female.

“Women’s rugby is one of sport’s great success stories, experiencing unprecedented growth around the world,” they said.

Given Ireland’s Grand Slam win in the 2013 Six Nations Championship and their defeat of New Zealand in the 2014 World Cup, Ireland should have been moving up with the rising tide. Instead the team came eighth in the final classification of the 2017 World Cup staged in Ireland and have been left behind by England, France, New Zealand and other nations.

Lynne Cantwell, Ireland’s outside centre in the heady days is on the board of Sport Ireland and chairs a committee on women in sport. Her team’s legacy and is now in danger of being squandered.

“I suppose there is a reality that there wasn’t any solid structures in place in rugby at that time and there wasn’t huge  changes made afterwards,” she says diplomatically.

“We’re hopeful that . . . I want to use the success as a platform as opposed to continue to reference the fact that it’s not improved since, that it’s not there yet. We know it’s not there yet.”

Right structures

To compound matters Ireland beat Australia in the Belfield Bowl in their first Pool match and lost to them 24-36 in the 5th-8th playoffs before losing to Wales in the final game. The slide was on. In this year’s Six Nations they were fifth with just one win.

“I think it’s clear that we haven’t got the right structures in place,” she adds. “We haven’t got the right answer to what it takes to enable the 15 to aspire and be competitive. What we were hoping is that the action plan that came out last year was going to be strategic and map towards that success.

“We haven’t seen the results of that yet. To a degree we have to wait and see what that produces. I’ve been in that sport for 17 years and seen a lot of those rotations. I have to be hopeful about it.”

As of now Ireland are ranked 10th in the world with only Scotland of the Six Nations sides below them. Spain are also above Ireland.

“It’s hard to get to four in the world,” she says of Ireland’s ranking high of four. “Therefore you want support from the country to be able to keep you there and keep pushing on.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.