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'Inherently unfair and hopefully not dangerous' | Amateurs versus professionals | Keith Wood

Ireland's TikTok Six Nations match over the weekend highlights the unfair nature of the different stages of teams going professional, according to former Ireland captain Keith Wood.

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

21:05 25 Apr 2022



'Inherently unfair and hopeful...
Rugby

'Inherently unfair and hopefully not dangerous' | Amateurs versus professionals | Keith Wood

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

21:05 25 Apr 2022

Ireland's TikTok Six Nations match over the weekend highlights the unfair nature of the different stages of teams going professional, according to former Ireland captain Keith Wood.

Greg McWilliams' side were well and truly beaten in Welford Road against England on Sunday. While they held the almost fully professional English side to just 10 points in the first half, however the match ended 69-0 to the hosts.

While Ireland were far from free from errors, they put together a strong performance. However, for Keith Wood, there is no competing when a team is so vastly outmatched by professionals.

Speaking on Monday Night Rugby, Wood compared the game as it is now to when his Munster side were just starting to turn professional.

"I likened the women's game to what the men's game was like when I started," Wood said. "In terms of the amateur sense of it and the nature of the arguments that we were having with the IRFU, and so was every other team having it with their unions.

"The difference in this instance for me is that some of the teams in the world have gone professional and some haven't. So, what we see at the weekend is something that is inherently unfair and hopefully not dangerous.

"You don't want it to be in the case where it is amateurs playing against professionals."

Professionals can go out to prove a point

Wood played for Munster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions in both the amateur and professional men's eras. While not all of his amateur teammates were sold on professionalism at the time, he was one of them that stuck with rugby over another career.

Wood was part of Ireland's World Cup squad in 2003 when they thrashed Namibia 64-7. He explained how his side, who were professional, went out to physically prove that the amateur Namibia side were not able to compete with them.

"I was thinking of a game we played in the World Cup in 2003 against Namibia," Wood said. "They were an amateur team playing against us.

"The view that we took, and I took, was that we would remind them that we were professional and they were amateur. We would play at a level of physicality so that they would stop at some stage.

"That's pretty much what happened at the weekend. It becomes pretty hard to maintain the level of almost onslaught against a team that is trained to be able to withstand all of that.

"That is the disparity that sits between it."

Money should not be the only factor to consider

For Wood, the argument around the financial viability of professional women's rugby should not be the sole determining factor about when Ireland steps into the professional scene.

Greg McWilliams has suggested that some XVs professional contracts could be given out as soon as this year, and Wood believes that until that happens, watching Ireland face England is 'uncomfortable'.

"I am not quite sure where I sit with this," Wood said. "At that stage, we were getting 50 000 turning up to matches, and there was an awful lot of money being made.

"I think when they look at it in that fashion, the game is not generating a huge amount of money in Ireland, if any. It is trying to push that over the edge so that actually happens and it is affordable to be able to sustain a professional team.

"It just shows you that it is still at the very start. But for me it is very uncomfortable, and it is not good for anybody to watch it in that fashion."

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Amateur Amateur Rugby Beibhinn Parsons Dorothy Wall England France Greg McWilliams Ireland Italy Keith Wood Lindsay Peat Munster Professional Professionalism Scotland Sevens TikTok SixNations Wales

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