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Naoupu: We're the same rugby family

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Irish international Sene Naoupu at launch of the new Irish Women’s Rugby team jersey

Irish international Sene Naoupu at launch of the new Irish Women’s Rugby team jersey

©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Irish international Sene Naoupu at launch of the new Irish Women’s Rugby team jersey

IT said much about the disastrous nature of Canterbury's previous PR campaign that when the new Ireland women's jersey was released this week, much of the focus was around the fact that the players were actually used to launch the kit.

A no-brainer one would have thought, but when models were previously used rather than the players, it was dangerous to assume anything. For years, there has been a feeling of inequality behind the scenes, as different gear was designed for male and female Ireland teams.

That uneasiness was exacerbated by the fact that the female jersey had "women" stitched underneath the crest - no other Six Nations team highlighted the gender of the kit.

Privately at least, there was discontent that the jersey, which was similar to the male underage shirts, was creating a bigger divide. We have now finally reached a stage where the men's and women's teams will wear a jersey with the same design.

"Oh, it's everything, isn't it? It's our archetype," said experienced Ireland centre Sene Naoupu (above).

"The jersey is our archetype, it's what it means - the crest is what it means and to have it on that side of the jersey is something that we all work extremely hard to represent.

Opportunity

"We're the same family in Irish rugby. It's equal opportunity for girls and women in sport and certainly in rugby. This is a positive step."

Ireland will wear their new kit for the first time on Saturday when Adam Griggs' side host Italy at Donnybrook's Energia Park for the restart of their Six Nations campaign.

Teen sensation Beibhinn Parsons is back in the mix having completed her Leaving Cert and Naoupu is as excited as everyone else to see the speedy winger kick on.

"Beibhinn Parsons is fantastic to have in your team, both on and off the pitch," Naoupu added. For her in her position, she obviously offers something different. But she is still developing. She is still very young.

"It's probably a sign of the times that the younger generation coming through is aspiring to be an international player. It's really exciting to see. Beibhinn is a fantastic player.

"I'm also proud that she is from a rural area, Ballinasloe. She is from the west of Ireland and made in Connacht, so she comes from a non-traditional area. That's pleasing because what other Beibhinn Parsons are out there that we don't know about?"


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