Club Women: Leinster Branch agree senior status for Women AIL Clubs.

Published Categorised as 2020-21, All Ireland League Women, Club Rugby Women, Editorial, Leinster Women, Railway Union RFC Tagged , , , ,
Railway Union's past player and former club president has been the driving force behind the recognition of women's teams.

In a landmark decision last night the Leinster Branch voted for amendments to their byelaws to confer the same status on women’s AIL sides as that conferred to men’s teams in the AIL.

Clubs in Leinster that have teams in the Women’s AIL will retrieve the same benefits and rewards as those clubs that have men’s sides in the AIL and both will be conferred senior status.

The following amendments were put to and accepted by the Executive Committee:

  • An amendment to the definition of “AIL” at byelaw 2(a) as follows (amendment in red, underlined text):

(a) In these byelaws:

“AIL” means the All Ireland League or the Women’s All Ireland League.

  • An amendment to the definition of “Senior Club” at byelaw 2(a) as follows (amendment in red, underlined text):


(a) In these byelaws:

“Senior Club” means a club as described in Bye Law 7.1 whether by virtue of a men’s team, a women’s team or both participating in the AIL.

The change comes about after a concerted campaign from Railway Union, who have been corresponding with the Leinster Branch for 6 years on the matter, with former club president Shirley Corcoran taking a leading role since her presidency in 2017.

While the headline benefit will be a substantial increase in the international ticket allocation for the club, with all the financial benefits that entails, Corcoran has always been adamant that it has been about representation of women’s teams and players within the branch, stating in 2017:

This has never been about tickets. From our point of view, we have always been consistent about what we want: a seat at the table that will allow us to influence the game in Leinster.

The interpretation of the bye-laws by Leinster Rugby denies senior women’s clubs a voice on the executive. That was arbitrarily interpreted by the 42 men on the executive. We need to change that.Shirley Corcoran, Railway Union

The representation of women’s rugby at branch level has undoubtedly been poor across the four provinces* and this is possibly the most meaningful change to the women’s game in Ireland since it’s inception, the benefits outlined in Railway Union’s press release below.

Railway Union Press Release

Railway Union RFC welcomes Leinster Rugby’s decision to allow women players to be considered senior players, and to recognize women’s clubs participating in the Women’s All-Ireland League as senior clubs. The move comes after members voted (overwhelmingly) in favour at the Leinster Rugby AGM last night.

Shirley Corcoran, Chairperson of Railway Union RFC, said:

We are delighted that our long-held belief that women can be senior players and that a club participating in the Women’s AIL is a senior club has been recognised. This is an historic event for Irish rugby, especially when you consider that Leinster Rugby is over 140 years old and Railway has been part of Leinster Rugby for over 116 years.

This recognition allows equality in representation and in access to resources for women’s rugby. It will help improve the structures and support for high-level female athletes to allow them to achieve their potential and to better compete internationally.

It allows senior women’s players, players who represent Ireland at an international level, a voice on how their game is governed and run.

It allows their club representatives, who are closely connected to those players and who have knowledge and grounding in women’s rugby to partake in governance structures of Leinster Rugby and thus in the IRFU. It will allow those to positively contribute to the strategic and operational direction of the women’s game in Leinster and Ireland.

It opens an additional pathway for senior players after retirement to use their accumulated rugby wisdom and skills to positively influence the direction of our sport.

We at Railway look forward to the day when all of the representative bodies of Irish rugby follow Leinster Rugby’s example and give equal rights and representation to women players.

Railway Union RFC would like to thank the Metro Area Committee, and in particular Shane Delaney, Des Dillon, John Hester and Fergal Slattery, for their unstinting support and guidance from when we first raised this issue in 2015.

We at Railway look forward to elected representatives from the senior women’s clubs taking their places on the decision-making committees of Leinster and the IRFU.

Additional content added 7th June 2021

*Clarification regarding “Senior Status”

We have been informed that individual Provinces have different definitions of “Senior Status” and are happy to include the following clarification.

Following a request from Cooke RFC in 2018, Ulster Rugby employed an Equality Law firm to review and recommend changes to the bye-laws, the question was ‘how do we amend our governing documents to allow a greater representative voice to women in the game?’

Following the review in 2019 the following was added to the Ulster Branch byelaws.

  • “All Ireland League Club or AIL Club” means a Club the most senior team of which is playing in the All Ireland League or the Women’s All Ireland league or their equivalent.

Ulster Rugby does not have senior status per se however, AIL Teams are entitled to one representative per club in the Branch Committee. In Ulster’s case the committee now has 13 AIL representatives – 11 mens only teams, 1 women’s only team Cooke, and 1 rep who represents Malone who have a men’s and women’s AIL team, non AIL clubs are represented by a further total of 5 reps. Note, these changes are yet to be included on the Ulster Branch Committee pages.

The Equality review also introduced 3 direct nominations to Branch, from the Women & Girls Committee – who draw representation from all across the female game in Ulster. Note, these changes are yet to be included on the Ulster Branch Committee pages.

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