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15th Aug 2023

Ruby Walsh says women don’t dive like men on the football field

Niall McIntyre

In his interview with Katie McCabe after Ireland’s 1-0 loss to Australia in the women’s World Cup, Tony O’Donoghue made the point to her that she could have had a penalty if she made more out of an Australian tackle.

McCabe wasn’t having it.

She shook her head immediately before telling Tony, in no uncertain terms, that she ‘wouldn’t have went down.’ Clearly, that’s not her style.

Think back to the men’s world cup for a short while and the examples of players feigning injury for free kicks and penalties are ten-a-penny. Bruno Fernandes, one of the worst offenders in the game, had a shocker against Morocco while Dutch player Denzel Dumfries took the biscuit altogether.

His play-acting and writhing on the ground against USA was worthy of an Oscar. But then you saw Cristiano Ronaldo pull off something similar – he’s no stranger to a dive – against Ghana, and he was rewarded with a penalty.

That’s why they do it.

But if you’ve been watching the women’s World Cup, like Ruby Walsh, then you’ll have noticed that there is little to no diving in the women’s game. Take England’s Lauren James’ red card against Nigeria for example.

If a similar act had been committed in the men’s game then chances are a player would have rolled around for five or ten seconds, like Dumfries against USA. But James’ opponent Michelle Alozie didn’t even flinch, as you’ll see below.

Speaking with former footballers Alan Cawley and Stephen Kelly on RTÉ’s Game on, the former champion jockey hailed women footballers for their reluctance to dive.

“Alan was making the case at one stage for a penalty in one of the games he was commentating on,” began the Kildare man.

“But these players don’t go down like men do, they keep standing up, they keep trying to go forward.

“I watched it back two or three times, why don’t the women dive? Or why do the men dive? he asked.”

Former Republic of Ireland full back Stephen Kelly said ‘honesty’ is the reason, and Rugby agreed with him.

“It’s much better to watch. I’m telling you, the women’s game is a better game to watch,” added the former jockey.

Kelly and Cawley went onto explain, from their experiences, how players would be chastised in their own dressing room if they opted not to dive if the chance was there.

“It was bred into us Ruby,” said Alan Cawley.

“And you’d be in dressing rooms with managers and if you didn’t go down, you’d be vilified for it. At every level.”

“And that’s what I’m saying now, I can’t speak on behalf of the girls themselves in dressing rooms obviously but I doubt that’s the case.”

“If I want in and tried to stay on my feet, every one of the players and the manager would be like ‘why didn’t you go down?”

“You would get caned,” agreed Stephen Kelly.

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