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'No matter the background, size, race, age, or who you love, you are welcome in rugby'

Dublin , Ireland - 25 April 2023; Brittany Hogan during a Ireland Women's Rugby squad training session at IRFU High Performance Centre at the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

In the lead-up to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, we’ll be celebrating what makes women’s rugby unique and highlighting representation in rugby.

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As part of our Pride Month celebrations, Ireland’s Cliodhna Moloney and Brittany Hogan shared their experiences in rugby as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Ireland will feature at a Women’s Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2017 after they qualified with their third-place finish in the 2024 Women’s Six Nations, and will compete in WXV 1 in 2024.

Moloney currently plays for Premiership Women’s Rugby side Exeter Chiefs while Hogan plays her club rugby for Old Belvedere Women, and represented Wolfhounds during the Celtic Challenge.

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What makes women’s rugby so special from an inclusivity point of view?

Clíodhna: “Rugby is an example of diversity in itself, because of the many different body shapes, sizes and skill sets that you need to play 1-15. That is reflected in its fanbase, and women’s rugby in particular through its accessibility.

“This acceptance and expectation of diversity creates an incredibly inclusive environment, where many people can thrive in their role of player, coach, fan, referee, or volunteer.”

Brittany: “No matter the background, size, race, age, or who you love, you are welcome in rugby.”

What are your experiences of being part of the LGBTQ+ community in rugby?

Clíodhna: “I met the love of my life, and now fiancé Claudia [MacDonald], through rugby, playing on the same team. I’ve grown as a person and have witnessed other teammates learning to express and accept themselves because of the environment in women’s rugby.”

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Brittany: “I feel like I can be unapologetically myself which is such a great feeling. I’m not alone and I’m welcome wherever I go.”

What can rugby do this pride month (and all year round) to show support?

Clíodhna: “To continue to normalise the diversity of backgrounds of those that currently play, therefore encouraging the sustainable growth of the game all over the world.”

Brittany: “Keep celebrating your teammates and support them in their decisions. Help those around you be happy in themselves.”

What makes a good ally?

Clíodhna: “Being open-minded, inquisitive and reserving judgement.”

Brittany: “A good ally is a good friend. The LQBTQ+ community have the right to live as happily and freely as you are, so support them in whatever way they need it.”

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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