As the Women's Rugby World Cup kicked off here yesterday, one keen rugby player and coach tells Hot Press that the tournament provides a great opportunity for both the IRFU and Ireland to leave a “real sporting legacy”.
So far the reaction to this tournament coming to Ireland has been immense, with all group matches being held in UCD long sold out.
And there is a real buzz across the whole country thanks to the recent performances of the Irish team and also following a comprehensive trophy tour across the whole country.
Rugby player and a former women’s rugby coach, Senator Neale Richmond is tipping Ireland to go all the way after their opening win against Australia yesterday.
"I have a sneaking feeling the Irish team will rise to the support of the home fans. However once the final whistle goes, it is time for the IRFU and the Government to use this tournament to leave a real sporting legacy," says Senator Richmond.
“The Government’s National Strategy for Women and Girls sets out to promote the participation of women and girls in sport, which is very important considering the numbers of girls that drop out of sport at a young age.
“No doubt the visibility of successful sporting women during this rugby world cup taking place on home turf will inspire more young girls to stay in sport.”
Senator Richmond was on hand recently to welcome the trophy and two of the stars of the Irish team, Norah Stapleton and Jenny Murphy, into Leinster House for the 170th stop on the tour where they spoke to a packed room of TDs, Senators, diplomats, staff and most importantly supporters looking forward to the World Cup.
"The growth in rugby over the past decade has been stellar, with more boys and girls playing the game than ever," says the Senator.
"It is vital that this growth and this tournament’s success is supported financially to ensure that more and more people get involved in the game at every level, but particularly at a playing level.
"We are entering a big couple of years for Irish sport with rugby at the forefront with the hosting of this world cup, the 2019 Union cup and bidding to host the 2023 Men's Rugby World Cup.
“The more top level sport we can attract to Ireland the better in terms of tourist numbers, economic growth, and investment and most importantly in encouraging Irish people of all ages to get active, to join a local club and to be part of a team.
"I can't wait for the tournament to start, I intend to get right behind the Irish team and hope this opportunity is taken advantage of to leave a real legacy."
Meanwhile, speaking ahead of Ireland’s opening game with Australia last night, the local TD out in the UCD constituency Josepha Madigan had this to say: “As the local TD, I am delighted that the pool stages of this major international sporting event will be taking place in my constituency.
"It is a great opportunity to showcase the world class sporting facilities in University College Dublin, and I want to extend a warm welcome to all the visiting teams.
“Our hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup highlights the great strides in women’s sport in this country. Our ladies in green are one of the top teams in the world and I encourage everyone to show their support.
"I look forward to their endeavours inspiring the next generation of female athletes to participate with their local sports teams and hopefully some will go on to compete at the highest level.
“I look forward to a successful tournament and wish the very best of luck to captain Claire Molloy and the rest of the team.”