Irish Rugby's Anna Caplice spoke on Tuesday's OTB AM about the postponed Six Nations and her dealings with online trolls.
It was not necessarily the manner in which the Women's Six Nations was postponed that compelled Anna Caplice to say something. Frustrated though the Irish back rower was with the decision, she was disheartened more so by the apparent license it gave some onlookers to sneer at the misfortune of the people involved.
Addressing those who took umbrage with the decision of to simply cover this story in the media as it developed, she spoke to a wider contingent of people who may not have copped what it means to play rugby for your country - be it as a man or a woman.
If you only knew what it takes. The early mornings and late evenings; the 10+ sessions you attend outside of your own job; the almost unbearable exertion you put your body through; the heartbreak of a selection that doesn't go your way and the toughness it takes to come back even stronger; the time away from family and friends; the cards sent with apologies because you can't be at your best friend's wedding or birthday. If only you had a fraction of understanding of what it takes to play in the Six Nations you wouldn't dare comment so flippantly. We don't just care about rugby: we are rugby. (Anna Caplice, Twitter)
"It isn't the first time I've seen comments like that, they do happen a lot," explained Caplice on Tuesday's OTB AM. "Often, you just have to scroll past them.
"It just struck me and a lot of girls I play with in the Premiership [with Harlequins] that it was comments after comment after comment, a whole list of people saying, 'No one cares'."
Capturing the mood of the many who do care and were both perturbed by the competition's postponement and this feckless response from online agitators, such off-field challenges are nothing new.
"We're the first generation really that has to deal with social media this way," the 31-year-old reasoned, "and we all have platforms to use.
"I don't think you should be engaging all the time with people like this but I think when it is something you can put a positive spin on, I hope that I did that."
While Caplice admitted that instances of day-to-day sexism in the real world were becoming few and further between, insidious online commentary remains an issue.
"The biggest problem is definitely online," she stated. "That's where people engage with sport, especially at this time during a pandemic where you can't just go to the pub and chat about the game there.
"I couldn't resist it and had to go and look at some of these trolls, who they were and that. You can see that some of them are really passionate about sport saying, 'Oh, well, Aguero only gave two assists, blah, blah, blah...'
"All of these fiery arguments about the details of sport, they are not a limited resource and could be extended into women's sport."
While Anna Caplice and her impassioned message resonated with a significant number of people, #ICare has found any number of people across the rugby fraternity sharing their own experiences also.
— Elinor Snowsill (@elsnowsill) January 14, 2021
I don’t play for your approval, I play for me and I play to inspire the young girls who have a dream like I do. #iCare and so do the 2.7 million female rugby players across the globe. pic.twitter.com/RjlOKgc43s
— Celia Quansah (@CeliaAmy) January 18, 2021
#icare Do I care that you don't care? I care that you get in my way.
What rugby has done for me is beyond what I ever thought I'd become. Before rugby, I'd have really cared what you thought. Now, I only care that you're in my way. So either start caring or get out of the way. pic.twitter.com/aZsNkRdIg5
— Alex Zdunek (@AlexZdunek) January 14, 2021
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) January 18, 2021
— Tom Lindsay (@TomLindsay2) January 16, 2021
You can watch back Anna Caplice on OTB AM in full here