Garry Ringrose challenges "pretty ridiculous" changing conditions for women's players
"It's something that should not have happened."
Garry Ringrose and Paul Boyle both spoke strongly on the weekend controversy in Dublin.
Footage surfaced on Saturday of the inadequate and shoddy area reserved behind Energia Park, in Donnybrook, where players from the senior Connacht and Ulster women's teams were sent to get changed.
Due to Covid-19 guidelines, which do not class women's rugby as an "elite" sport, the changing rooms at Energia Park could not be opened for the teams, ahead of their Interprovincial Series game.
A member of the Connacht set-up was so unhappy with the dilapidated setting to change, behind the stadium, that a video was shared to Instagram that then found its' way on to Twitter and horrified a lot of rugby supporters.
Just got sent this
Absolutely disgusting and disgraceful that the Connacht women had to get changed with the rats for the #WomensInterpros today
I've walked lyrical about this tournament but to see this I'm horrified
I'm lost for words at this
Equally Saddened & infuriated pic.twitter.com/Wh1cvBQbdg
— The 2nd Row (@the2ndRow) September 11, 2021
While the IRFU and Leinster Rugby, who hosted the game, both apologised for the conditions players were forced to get changed in, there have been valid questions asked about how this was allowed to happen. It was not exactly a surprise to match organisers that players would not be able to use the changing rooms, so a better alternative should have been arranged.
A different area of Energia Park was sectioned off and intended for the Connacht squad to get changed there, we understand, but a communication breakdown saw them end up out the back of the ground.
Asked about the matter at today's launch of the 2020/21 United Rugby Championship season, which will feature 150 hours free-to-air on RTE and TG4 and every single game on Premier Sport, Leinster's Garry Ringrose spoke well. He commented:
"I saw a video of it on Instagram. It's obviously pretty ridiculous and a massive mix-up.
"I can't imagine it will be a mistake that could ever, or should ever, happen again.
"I don't really know the ins and outs of it, other than it's something that should not have happened. I've no doubt, as I said, that it should not happen again."
Connacht forward Paul Boyle was also asked for his thoughts on the conditions his female counterparts were faced with.
"It wasn't an ideal scenario," he said. "We spoke about it in our changing room and said we wouldn't put up with it. It wasn't good enough."
Boyle says he hopes the controversy about the changing facilities will ultimately lead to positive changes in the women's game. The Connacht women's team, he says, has the full support of the men's squad.
While Connacht themselves accepted the apology of the union, a statement was released today by the Connacht women's team.
"We are very disappointed and upset," they declared, "by the facilities that were provided for us to change both pre- and post-match and for our post-match meal. The location was not suitable for purpose."
A statement from the Connacht Rugby Women's Team: pic.twitter.com/m5DnEvplt4
— IrishWomensRugbySupportersClub (@IrishWomens) September 15, 2021
As has been noted by many across the game, the footage exposed a serious oversight in the women's game and one that has take away from the positive strides being made, of late.
One hopes that the spotlight on the communication breakdown, and top-level provincial rugby for not being deemed "elite", will lead to standards and conditions improving for our female players.