Senator claims Rugby is bad for women's health

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden said there are "certain games more suited to women"

Senator claims Rugby is bad for women's health

Ireland's Alison Miller (left) celebrates scoring her side's second try during the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup match against Australia at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, 22-08-2017. Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

A Fianna Fáil senator has claimed that rugby is bad for women’s health.

Speaking in the Seanad last week, Senator Terry Leyden said that while he does not mean to be discriminatory, “there are certain games more suited to women.”

“Funnily enough, I am not a great advocate of women's rugby,” he said. “I am not over enthusiastic about it from a health point of view.”

“I would not totally encourage women to play rugby – but the jury is out in that particular regard.  

“Rugby is a very physical game.  I think there are certain games more suited to women, and I do not mean to be discriminatory.

“I mean it from the point of view of the future health of women rugby players.”

Senator Leyden admitted he is not a medical expert but suggested other games like soccer and Gaelic football are “much different” from a health perspective.

He made the comments during a Seanad discussion on the move to broadcast the Ladies’ All-Ireland football and camogie finals free-to-air alongside the Women's Six Nations championships.

Welcoming the move, he said the chance for young girls to watch their peers playing live on national television will, "lead to a phenomenal increase in the number of women playing camogie and football."

He said the plan, "recognises the participation of women in sport, which is vitally important."

Women's rugby

However, he said he read “somewhere” that rugby is not recommended for young female players.

When pressed on the issue by The Sunday Times newspaper, he said it was “on Google.”

He insisted he had no objection to women playing the sport in principle, adding that his objection came purely from a health point of view.

“I would not discourage anybody,” he told the newspaper. “If women want to play rugby, then that’s fine.”

“It can be a very tough game – you know yourself how tough it can be. I am just saying be aware of the dangers.”

He also said he was not “in favour” of female boxers and warned that female jockeys were also in a “tough sport.”