Eimear Considine on the biggest difference between men and women's rugby
"We were like the walking wounded, going through that airport."
First with Sevens and then with the senior women's team, Eimear Considine has combined the honour of lining out for Ireland with her teaching duties. That, along with juggling punditry work and personal commitments, can make for a hectic life, but she wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, she would change one aspect of her rugby life if it was possible.
While Andy Farrell's senior men's side got to complete their 2020 Guinness Six Nations campaign, Adam Griggs and his women's side fulfilled their fixture with Italy but their match against France was postponed due to a Covid outbreak within the French squad.
World Cup qualifiers are due to take place in December but, given the largely amateur make-up of the women's game, nothing is certain, right now. Whenever the call comes, though, Considine and her teammates will be ready. They have been training as close to professionally as possible for the last two months and feel like they are in a good space.
On a recent House of Rugby Ireland episode (from 12:00 below) Considine spoke with Ian Madigan about how the women's game, at the top level, still differs greatly from the men's.
During his time at Bristol Bears, Madigan spoke of the massive levels of interaction between the English club's men and women's teams, and believes it is beneficial. Harlequins, too, often get their men's players down to deliver coaching and masterclass sessions with their women's squad.
"Would you like to be more involved with the men’s set-up at international level?" Madigan asked Considine. "Do you think that would be beneficial?"
"Yeah," she replied, "we can always benefit from outside sources and from the men’s team.
"Your job, at the end of the day, is to train and train like professionals. And if we can learn even one thing about what you do, in relation to your training, your recovery or your lifestyle, to make us better rugby players, well everyone is going to benefit from that. We’re all in the same team, whether it’s the men’s or women’s team.
"It’s interesting to find out and there are huge differences between the men’s and the women’s teams. We may be amateurs but we train like professionals.
"The main difference there is that we don’t get the recovery. We have our S&C coaches, we have our gym sessions, our pitch sessions, our skill sessions, video analysts, GPS, we have all the things and resources available to us, but the main difference we don’t have is time, or the time to recover that I think the men would get."
Considine recalled a November Series game she played for Ireland, against England, in 2018 and having to go into work on the Monday morning after a particularly bruising encounter.
"We played the over in Twickenham and it was a great game," she began. "We didn’t win but it was one of those performances that you were really proud of.
"Our 10 went off after 15 minutes and did her ACL, we had a broken hand, we had a dislocated shoulder, we had a RUPTURED SPLEEN! I had concussion. We ran out of subs.
"We were broken after that game. And I remember our doctor, Frank, at the time, he was so medically stressed trying to check us all out before we got on that flight. Because he genuinely didn’t have enough time to deal with us all.
"We were like the walking wounded, going through that airport. And I remember being in work the next day and I had a splitting headache, but I had to get into work. I’d missed so many other days to play, that you can’t miss the days you’re not playing.
"And I remember being in and teaching Leaving Cert Irish, like, first class that day. And I was like, ‘The English girls are probably sitting on a massage bed right now, getting active recovery’, similar probably to what you do, on your Monday!"
England has a healthy number of professional women's players, at present, and so do France. While it is not across the board, both unions have been able to ring-fence money to enable their top players do not need to fully supplement their income.
It is of little surprise, then, to see England and France sharing the Six Nations titles since 2015. Given that all rugby unions have been set reeling by the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be worth watching if the edge towards having more female professionals progresses or regresses in the coming years.
WATCH THAT HOUSE OF RUGBY EPISODE HERE:
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Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts. You can catch up on all our episodes from past seasons and interviews with Conrad Smith, Victor Matfield, Simon Zebo, Sean O'Brien, Drew Mitchell, Jean De Villiers, Finn Russell, Mike Brown, Brian O'Driscoll, Tana Umaga and much, much more.