Tag Archives: rugby

From top: Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best at a press conference in Paris yesterday; Gormla Hughes

Getting my hair cut last week, I was asked, when I said I loved running in the dark, was I not afraid something might happen to me.

I said no – my age deems me invisible and experience had already taught me that the likelihood of being sexual harassed or assaulted was far higher, by someone I knew. But of course, there are exceptions. I know this too.

When #NotMyCaptain started trending, I read the comments about Rory Best, OBE, captain of the Irish Union International Rugby team, attending the courtroom the day the alleged victim was giving her evidence.

Two thoughts immediately sprung to mind; the first, that his presence that particular day was, without question in my opinion, an orchestrated strategy and second, I remembered Brian Murphy—the young man beaten until he died, a mere thirty seconds later, outside Club Anabel, 30 August 2000, by four former Blackrock College students, a place well known for its tradition of producing excellent rugby players.

At the time, newspapers spoke of these young men in glowing terms, men with bright futures ahead of them. Even the judge, in his sentencing statement said he did not want to cause any reputational damage to them by being too harsh for a night that was obviously just a bit of drunken madness—a statement dangerously close to assertions made about men who physically harm or rape women.

[Language such as ‘bright future’ attached to privileged young men, subliminally excludes women, any person of colour or with a disability—with the class division widened with the use of terms such as ‘animals’ and ‘thugs’.]

In those days, I listened to the radio when I was driving. I remember being so angry and sad, in equal measure. I remember thinking there is no justice in this world, why bother reporting anything, when men and the privileged will be ‘looked after’ every time.

I also know, there is much invested in maintaining their reputation.

I went to a private school. A school closely linked to two well known ‘rugby’ schools. I would often hear the girls talking about what they were going to wear to a match the following weekend — and any girl who had an older sister who was able to pass on information as to where the players would be celebrating or commiserating after the match was given extra attention (eat your heart out Madame Bovary).

The school scarf of a rugby player was a prized possession, one that brought the wearer extra attention and favour. If a girl was lucky enough to be given one by her boyfriend, she was lauded – elevated to a place others strove to reach. It meant she had been chosen.

If the girl went out with him long enough to bring him home to meet her parents, she was elevated higher – rewarded by bringing her shopping for extra clothes, maybe even a sneaky manicure. Her father, boasting at work about who his daughter was dating tended to be received more warmly in the business world.

Social circles increase, favours are done for the parents of – for the players – for the teachers – for the coaches – for their supporters, business introductions, tips on how to avoid paying too much tax – a world where many blind eyes are turned.


The more caps a player achieves, the more likely it is that he will walk into a management position, irrespective of his qualifications or intellectual prowess.

But, not only that, when they are being ‘tested’ for promotion in most corporations – being married is a BIG plus to put you ahead of your competitors for the position of partner, ceo or cfo – everyone knows this, and works it. Men may have their affairs and flings without impacting the trajectory of their career – if a woman does, its game over.

Even in the rugby and business world – her virtue is demanded – by the very men who entertain themselves at parties, by dabbling in a picnic basket of drugs and hiring sex workers to join them – men who are advocates and beneficiaries of the social division of women’s character between deviant and devout.

It is a cultural industry that most within it benefit from. And like every cultural setting, there are good people, bad people, assholes and perpetrators.

And if something happens?

We believe the law is above all of this. We believe truth will conquer all inside a court room. We fail to remember, every time, that many of the judges hail from this culture.

Except women—(well, most) women know otherwise.

Women have been indoctrinated in the anatomy of kindness – of turning the other cheek – of self-checking, self-blame, of breastfeeding all around her, of understanding that scandal and shame gets you ostracised and if that happens you won’t be able to access a piece of the pie.

And in the meantime…

Men encounter few meaningful consequences for their actions against women in this world, particularly those centred in the world of privilege – so it was the reaction to Rory Best’s conduct that actually took me by surprise.

When counsel for the accused asked the alleged victim what she knew about rugby and its players and their social standing, I knew absolutely nothing had changed.

I also know—#TimesUp

Gormla Hughes is an essayist and you can follow her on Twitter @Paradisefound64

Top pic: AFP

Previously: Shoulder To Shoulder

Today’s Irish Times

Nat writes:

So the alleged victim in the Ulster rugby rape case goes on the stand yesterday, having already said she was terrified she’d have to face Ulster rugby if the case went to trial.

Who decides to turn up in court on the day she gives evidence? Their captain Rory Best and a teammate.

Team-mates show support for accused at Belfast court (Independent)

He is not.

Dubai-based English language sports daily, 360 uses a Leo Varadkar image to stick the boot into women’s rugby.



Thanks Mac Caochlaoich

KpNefTx-1Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 12.44.49


On The Buses writes:

A brief glimpse at the ‘fanpic’ taken yesterday in Lansdowne Road reveals exactly how Conor Murray managed to make such an impact on the field….


Vodafone Fan Pic

French media reaction: ‘Conor Murray is a Rolls Royce’ (Irish Times)


For the weekend that’s in it.

Saturday, March 3rd, 1979.

Ireland travelled to Scotland on a weekend when Edinburgh was dry due to a public service employees strike…

Highlights were few and far between.

Edmund Van Esbeck, writing in the Irish Times said:

A few inches of woodwork was destiny’s determining factor at Murrayfield on Saturday. With six minutes remaining, Colin Patterson crossed for a try in the right corner to bring the scores at 11 points all. Ireland’s ace marksman,

Tony Ward took the conversion attempt and the ball followed an erratic path to the posts, struck the upright and fell the wrong side. Thus, it was that, for the first time in three quarters of a century, Ireland and Scotland played a draw with each side, scoring two tries and a penalty goal…..

Laces out Tony.

Six Nations 2017 (RTÉ Sport)



*drops shoulders*

Ahead of the Six Nations Championship.

Johnny Watterson trolls writes:

Ireland’s Call, it makes you wonder how it ever got there, who it was slipped it into the rugby fixture list, who it was decided it would remain part of the rugby experience and force fed to 50,000 people before every home Six Nations Championship match.

A sop to the Ulster players, who won’t sing Amhrán na bhFiann because it’s not their anthem, Ireland’s Call has found a place alongside fracking and puppy farms as plain wrong….


Time to call a halt to embarrassing ‘Ireland’s Call’ (Irish Times)

Previously: Fields Of Athenry: “This Is Not A Rugby Song”


Ah here.

Paul writes:

One of New Zealand’s largest news websites is busy publishing clickbait articles describing the Irish as ‘rugby’s new whingers’. Don’t read the comment sections if you are thin skinned (or indeed, a whinger) and Irish…


Johnstone: Control yourselves Ireland, you’ve replaced England as the new whingers of world rugby (Stuff.co.nz)

*Maori for ‘Fight!’


For the weekend that’s in it.

November 17, 2001.

The era of the baggy jersey was drawing to a close and Irish voters kicked the Nice Treaty into touch.

Gerry Thornely wrote:

A hard one to swallow for this Irish team to have given themselves and a throbbing Lansdowne Road a real sight of a famous victory.

The men in black foraged in twos or even clusters, and usually offloaded even before going to ground. You have to wonder if Irish fatigue was a factor in just not getting support ruckers to the breakdown. But Gatland like the players was not having any of it. “I don’t want to repeat myself here, but that’s again down to the intensity they play at week, week out.”

A helluva game, it really was.

Final Score: Ireland 29 New Zealand 40

Previously: On The Blindside, This Could Be Drama