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Ireland have announced a launch of the women's under 20s representative team and unlike their male counterparts, female rugby players don't have the opportunity to participate at that grade. And so the idea here is to foster player development and provide high performance coaching. And one of those high performance coaches, I'm delighted to say, joins us on the line this morning. Jenny Murphy. Good morning to you, Jenny.


Good morning. How are you guys skills, coach? So what's the what's the proposition here and what's the. And so essentially, there's no and we're the only are under the only under the only six nation size that doesn't have an under 20 women's team and there's a gap there. It needs to be filled. And Ruby, Kotomi and R are like, right, let's go ahead, let's do it. There's a Gulf there. There's a huge drop off race for players that are going from under age or under 18 to senior level.


And we want to kind of keep those players involved and stay in the game. So we're going to we're going to give this a crack and see how we get on. Yeah.


Why are the RFU was the first thing that struck me when I read about it yesterday why the RFU aren't filling this gap and oh, you're your guess is as good as mine am.


I'm not too sure. It's a pity. I think it's it's a great opportunity. And, you know, women's rugby in this country is that in this position before the women's team weren't always under the branch of the IRF. You they were they were on their own for a while. And so instead of just kind of waiting around and asking, just do it ourselves, and hopefully in the future they'll come on board and something will be done for for young adults.


And they want to kind of progress on Tripathy because there's no there's no real clear pathways for a women's player in this country. And if you're if you're a boy and you go online and you look up your pathways, you can clearly see, you know, how to get from many to an international jurors. You can see the clear pathways. And with and with girls, it's a it's a little bit just gaps and there's gaps there, which is a pity because, you know, we've got some really talented players here.


So we're hoping that this is something that can really keep girls in the game, have a bit of fun, learn something as well, and progress onto the next level.


Like it does suggest that the RFU and I appreciate that that's not your starting point on this, but they are if you don't take any level of women's rugby seriously, if if they're I mean, they're not committing to put the pathways in place to provide the talent to eventually get through to the senior side, it seems like a fairly clear indicator that they're not they don't really take this thing that seriously. And again, I guess like, yeah, you want to be able to.


You want any honest kids, whether it be male or female, when they're picking up a rugby ball for the first time and they fall in love with the game to see a very clear way of like, oh, this is how I could be the next Catherine Dane or the next Johnny sex. And it should be there should be a limited amount of obstacles for that player to get to where they want to go. And obviously, you've got a lot of hard work and talent and, you know, to to get to that level.


But the structure should be there in order for you to be able to do that.


It's not and and this isn't this isn't the IPO. I guess it's a kind of pull up their socks a little bit. But this is across the board. This isn't just for like. I think they can do better with the women's game, both national and a grassroots grassroots.


I think that I read somewhere that there's like three or three thousand youth players. That's the the playing part that you'll be looking to try and tap into.


Yeah. Like on again, that the numbers you're there, like that could be a little bit of both though and and maybe around there's a lot of like girls that have played provincial underwritings and that are now making the move to senior level, whether it's with AOL or trying to get on to the senior provincial sites and which hasn't gone on this year because of covid and Bush. And they're like, I guess there is there is just so much talent in this country there.


And there would be such a shame if if they were just kind of let go or, you know, if you go when you're especially when you're that age, if you if you start playing senior will be a lot of the girls that you're playing with their late 30s, sometimes 40s, even the physicality is so different. And that in itself can be extremely off-putting. And it can be sometimes if you're not even physically strong enough to cope with that kind of pressure and then mentally stressful confidence can take a guess.


And hopefully with what we're trying to do, it can basically just keep them in the game and get them playing, bumping their skills even more, and then hopefully get a provincial jersey or an Irish jersey. And fingers crossed, that's the plan anyway. Yeah.


And I presume looking at other sports as doing because it seemed like those players that have played for the national team who've come from other sports, particularly, I presume when we look at the skill specifically aspect of it, I presume that's the most like for like and yeah, there's a there's a lot of girls that transfer there.


Some some actually really successful transfers are coming from hockey, but more so from Ganic. I think all the girls in the in the squad in twenty, thirteen, fourteen, more than seventy five percent of them have played Gaelic at some stage. And so there is huge transferable skills there. And for the moment this year, we're just looking at girls that have had about half experience of of playing rugby. We're not going to be chucking them at the deep end and coaching them from scratch and giving them like contact skills right away.


We'd like them to have some and some taste of being on a rugby pitch. But further down the line, it was like there's a there's a huge talent pool for rugby players and for for players in this country.


It's just maybe hopefully we can take some of the Celtic footballers on Shake Ball and see what happens.


And we look to be interesting to watch, I presume, like getting them game time out. Like, can you replicate much of that on the training pitch or, you know, like in terms of I think it's the target is to play England at some point towards the end of the season. So, like, how much of that can be replicated in advance?


And we can have it nice matches training. Like obviously it's not ideal with covid. So we're working around bus and but the main thing is to get it up and running and see see a certain performance from the girls that are involved and on as well as that.


We want them to be playing with teams and with teams across the country, like those teams then and then across provinces that have great coaches and really good players. And we want them to go back and play with them as well. So this isn't about keeping the players for ourselves. We want we want these women to be playing as much as possible. Because when you're playing matches like like touching on your point, it's so much more valuable than constantly training.


And sometimes you just need that match fitness or that little less.


And so we don't want to we don't want to just be coaching them. We want to encourage them to go back to those senior teams. Maybe bring some of the skills that we hopefully taught them and pass it on, so it's spreading a little bit as well. Jenny, on a practical level, when you talk about the lack of a pathway for women trying to play rugby, how much of an issue is that? Because when you talk about specialist positions in the game where you need to have it down at a at a certain age, if you're transferring from one sport and coming to rugby league, is there a chance that Irish players have been at a disadvantage in the two, three, nine and 10 jerseys?


And yeah, those are there. They're really technical parts of the game. And even if you're coming from and even if you're coming from playing rugby before, it's just such a shift. And a lot of the time you see in maybe lower divisions in the women's game that you're it's very scripted rugby and it's you know, they play first phase and then they think about the first phase and play it again. And we want we want smart rugby players that aren't going to be we don't want to tell them what and what we want them to play.


We want them to look and assess themselves. And like you, you need to be playing as much as possible in order for something like that to click even playing know, I put my hand up and be like, this isn't my area of expertise. But when you talk with about front rows and particularly the tight end position like that takes years. And then finally something clicks and you're like, I get it. She can be extremely strong, extremely physical.


But like, it's such a it's such a difficult position to play in. And then when you're going up against when we're asking some of these players that have gone through to go up against, you know, thirty five year olds that are like excel in this position, I've been here for a while and have maybe two or three stone on your opposite number. That's a huge ask. And and it can be extremely daunting as well. So more game time.


We want we want women to be playing as much matches as possible at a high level, because when we do ask them to play those international games, it's it's instead of the being by, you know, 30, 40 percent, it's it's we we bridge that gap a little bit.


How much of an opportunity is there as well in terms of putting a I guess, a real identity on this team? Because I don't. On your level, we probably struggled with the identity, the what is the identity of Iris will be, and the obvious comparison is something like the All Blacks when it's very clear and identify that as underage level, the All Blacks have a certain way of playing, considering this is a new team, this is a new opportunity to blow new players through to the system.


Is there a chance for you to say, right, we're going to play in the right way and that system and that that style of play is going to be something that maintains for the next couple of years, hopefully. And I think I think you I think Coaches', to a certain extent, can have some say in in the culture, but again, it's it's what players we have and what we're working with. And we'll work within that force, ideally with Fiona Hayes and Ali Miller, who I'll be working with on the coaching setup.


We we want we want to we want the women to enjoy and play the game. It's a game. At the end of the day, I know we we have ambitions for them to play at representative level, but that doesn't mean that you don't have to play a big, serious Six Nations game without a smile on your face. It's a pretty damn good place to be. And so we want them to have a bit of crack, but also we want them to kind of back themselves a little bit sometimes.


And sometimes the women's game can be a little bit conservative and we play it safe. So we want them to be able to identify where the space is on and have a go and really kind of get themselves out of their comfort zone. And, you know, like play you watch like you've seen that Rossing and get that win at the end. Unlike offin Rossow, Balls of Steel pass across the defensive line. And we're not going to be asking the girls to do we're not expecting not just.


Yes, but to have the confidence to do something like that. I think that's us. That's what I'd love to do. And I love the team that we're building to be able to just to have the confidence in their own ability and and have a bit of fun while they're doing us maybe hold off enjoying that video on day one like that.


Yeah, well, we won't set the bar just that high at the moment. Can I ask you as well, Johnny, just as we wrap the existing of the state on a podcast this week talking about the volubility possibility of the game going professional and the difficulties that are surrounding that, like obviously the commercial market, the structures of the domestic leagues, the structure of European leagues getting crowded into games and all that kind of thing, she felt that it wasn't possible, that she didn't feel that she would see it.


What's your what's your thoughts? Is it possible? I'm like almost as if the most that it happens for the development of the game. And it's disappointing to say, but I don't think I don't think the women's game is going to go professional any time soon in this country, which which will just and which is just drive on teams even further like we're seeing. I know it was only going only got to see three games in the Six Nations for the women's this year, plus the performances between professional and amateur teams.


They're going to get bigger and you're going to have in two or three years time if it stays the way it is on our than, say, amateur and on England, our professional and friends are professional, the likes of New Zealand and stuff who are on contracts. That gap is going to grow and those trolleys are going to ramp up. And it's going to be like, you know, Ireland, England, like 15 years ago and strike now, like at the moment, we're still competitive and still able to put a fight on.


But if the longer you wait, the more catchup that we will have to do. And that's that's a difficult position to be in. I like being a professional rugby player.


It's an unbelievable thing. I got a taste of it at sevens. And your job is just to play it to play rugby. Well, you don't have to worry about getting to work on time and trying to get a nap at lunchtime and then maybe get to training extra early so you can have another another sleep. It's it's all those kind of stresses move away. And the women's the Irish team, they deserve us. You've got girls that are have moved over to the UK to to play rugby and at a higher level and to play we say professional, but they're they're sacrificing their career.


They're not paid a huge amount of money, but they're doing it because they want to they want to get better and play and play become better rugby players themselves. So when they do come back and play in Knackery in Jersey, they're bringing something extra on the pitch. Give them an opportunity to do that. Here we've got provincial setups. Why not use us? Maybe we're not going to be professional. Then you're not going to get all of your players or railway union players paid bus we have set already there in Leinster Monster, Oldster and Canucks.


Can we use Autobus again? I'm not and I'm not like Yoda when it comes to stuff like this. So there's probably smarter people to ask. But I just I do think I do think they deserve better with the man have to put up with this. Probably not. So yeah, things start to raise our voices a little bit and get a bit moss. Yeah.


That's, that's a good thing to do because none of us need to be older, but certainly having the conversations about it is a good place to start. October twenty ninth try the trial day. Players between seventeen and nineteen got involved, I presume Googling Rugby Academy. I will do the job.


Yeah. And so yeah. Bring your game shields and have a crack. And I like my big ask is like weather. Like don't be discouraged by not sticking your name forwards. So even if you've had a setback or a disappointment and you didn't get selected for underwritings or Petrossian, Leinster like players get get missed all the time by case in point. Ali Miller, she can get selected by by Leinster. Sure. The most successful Irishwoman in the world, like those coaches, make a mistake.


People make mistakes all the time. So don't be afraid to put your name down just because you've had a setback before. And it's another opportunity to run against some of the other good rugby players. And it should be a bit of fun as well.


So, yeah, get involved that stuff, speak certain things when you try to explain OTB.


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