The IRFU and Leinster have issued an apology to Connacht and Ulster Rugby after what they deemed an 'unacceptable error' in relation to the positioning of changing facilities during the Women’s Interprovincial Championship.
Connacht and Ulster faced one another in the first of a Women's Interpro double header, which also saw Leinster take on Munster with both games taking place at Energia Park.
Footage circulated on social media however, showed how the Connacht team's changing facilities were located beside a bin and surrounded by rubbish and debris, ahead of the tournament.
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
On Sunday afternoon the IRFU released the following statement on Twitter in regards to the facilities, noting how they, along with Leinster Rugby, are 'extremely sorry for the inconvenience' caused.
"The IRFU and Leinster Rugby would like to apologise to players, management and representatives of Connacht Rugby and Ulster Rugby and are sorry for the inconvenience caused by an unacceptable error in relation to the positioning of temporary changing facilities.
"Due to current government guidelines, changing facilities are not available for amateur rugby teams. These temporary facilities should have been set up in a more appropriate area.
The IRFU and @LeinsterRugby would like to apologise to players, management and representatives of @ConnachtRugby and @UlsterRugby and are sorry for the inconvenience caused by an unacceptable error in relation to the positioning of temporary changing facilities. (1/3)
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 12, 2021
"The IRFU and Leinster Rugby are extremely sorry for the inconvenience to the teams and the upset this unacceptable error has caused."
Women's rugby publication Scrum Queens as well as the Irish Women's Rugby Supporters Club were among those who reacted to the statement from the IRFU.
An apology for forcing the country's leading players to change beside a dump and vermin but only when footage surfaces online. Players also used these facilities last week & someone on high cleared them for use in advance. Plus ca change. https://t.co/Va6RuF2Kit
— Scrumqueens - Women’s Rugby (@ScrumQueens) September 12, 2021
Leinster had the same changing facilities last week also.
It sums up the casual attitude towards our women's sides perfectly. "Ah shur that will do". Apologies only come when PR is impacted, not when the players are.
The IRFU need to rethink how the handle women's rugby. https://t.co/nF16a2x8bp
— IrishWomensRugbySupportersClub (@IrishWomens) September 12, 2021
Connacht Rugby also released a statement welcoming the apology from the IRFU.
“Connacht Rugby acknowledges and welcomes the apology issued to our women’s squad and management for the changing facilities provided at last night’s fixture at Energia Park.
“Connacht Rugby along with the IRFU are proud of the strides we have made with women’s rugby, and the increased backing and support we have given our players, coaches and volunteers. TG4′s live coverage of the Connacht women’s fixture was also a very welcome development – the benefits of which will be clear to see in both the short and long-term future.
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) September 12, 2021
“Finally, we’d like to thank this year’s playing squad and management for their incredible commitment since their first training session many months ago. They have represented the province with pride and we look forward to seeing continued development of women’s rugby in Connacht at all levels.”