Former Ireland 15s and 7s player Alison Miller spoke to OTB's Saturday Panel of the need to reassess the IFRU's strategy for growing women's rugby in Ireland.
The legendary Irish winger's words come amidst a disappointing turn for the Irish women's 15s team – after losing 20-18 to Scotland last Saturday in their World Cup qualifier.
The game was must-win for Ireland – having suffered defeat against Spain prior to the Scotland match. Having named an unchanged starting XV, the pressure is now further mounting on coach Adam Griggs' future.
'Dropped the ball'
Structurally, women's rugby has many pitfalls. For the year that's been in it, lack of game time has been a huge factor, with the AIL not returning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the English Premiership did resume.
For Miller, lack of scouting and people attending matches has been a real neglecting factor of the game.
"All it would take is to send someone down and have a look at the talent. I was spotted that way and I’m not the only one who came that route" says Miller.
"Unfortunately, they’ve dropped the ball with that. When Anthony Eddy [the director of women's 7s rugby] came from Australia, he really thought that the 7s would really take off. I know the men’s have done ok, but I think [concerning the women’s team], they’ve got the focus wrong" Miller continued.
“In this country, 15s is what people are interested in. And that’s why young girls go to rugby clubs. They have put all their eggs into the 7s basket and unfortunately, we haven’t had success in the 7s either.
Miller seemed particularly frustrated how the Irish camp's approach has been to throw 7s players into the 15s game – something that really hasn't translated.
"What’s happening now is we’re seeing them try us the 7s game to feed players into the 15s game. And you see a lot of young players that have played all 7s through their 18,19,20s, haven’t played 15s since they were young. And now they’re put straight into the 15s game with little to no real game experience. You could see that on the pitch."
Miller wasn't the only former Irish player to vent their frustration at the Irish set-up. Last Saturday Fiona Hayes told OTB of her own disappointment with the Scotland result.
"When we look at that Spain game, all the dropped passes, the girls were not match-ready. They haven't been playing games. They've had numerous camps, but when you play at international level it's very, very different to the intensity that you would play" says Hayes.
"If you're a 15s player, you're probably wondering how do I get into that back line..." | 🏉
Alison Miller on the difficulties and lack of cohesion of the current Irish women's rugby team
Catch the full Saturday Panel show HERE ⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/urTf6d9vmU pic.twitter.com/kslv6mQjFL
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) October 2, 2021