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Sexton hopes changing room incident doesn't overshadow progress


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Johnny Sexton hopes that the weekend changing room controversy doesn't overshadow the progress that he has seen in women's rugby in Ireland.

The Ireland and Leinster outhalf was speaking on Newstalk's The Hard Shoulder and was asked about the incident which saw the Connacht and Ulster teams forced to changed next to a rubbish disposal area ahead of the Women’s Interprovincial Championship.

The IRFU and Leinster Rugby have since issued apologies for what occurred at Energia Park and Sexton believes that they should be taken at their word.

"Obviously those issues haven't been great. I think everyone involved has apologised and said it won't happen again and you have got to take their word for it," said Sexton.

"I think that the women's game has gone from strength to strength over the last while. Hopefully, moments like that won't overshadow the good stuff that's been going on.

"I'm not involved in their camp so I can't speak for everything that's going on but I hope that they are. I've got two young daughters that I hope will be involved in sport as they grow older and I hope that they'll be looked after as I have been throughout my career."

It has been a bad week for Irish women's rugby with the senior international side suffering a shock defeat to Spain in the opening match of their Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign.

They now face must-win matches against Italy and Scotland to have any chance of automatic qualification but Ireland international remains optimistic.

"I felt for them, with that result but they've got another chance this week," said Sexton.

"I know they've spoken about bouncing back and making sure they keep the preparation up. Sometimes you can do great preparation and you don't get the result you deserve but once you learn from it and bounce back. I'm sure that's what they'll all be doing this week."

All of the issues highlighted this week have led to a wider discussion around the administration of women's rugby in Ireland and equality in the game.

At the same time, there is real progress being made in Irish women's soccer with the FAI announcing just over two weeks ago that the senior women's and men's team would receive equal pay while Sky were confirmed as the new title sponsors of the women's national team.

Irish manager Vera Pauw confirmed to Off The Ball that the men's team, led by captain Seamus Coleman, initiated talks to achieve equal pay.

Sexton was asked if there was a role for leading Irish male players in helping to drive for parity of esteem in Irish rugby.

"There definitely is but it's two different games and I don't know the details in and around that," said the Ireland captain.

"Like I said before, I want women's sport to be strong as it can be. I've got two daughters and I can already tell that they're sporty.

"My little one Amy is five now and she's obsessed. She's out in the garden playing soccer, playing golf. She loves it and I want her to have all the pathways that I had as a boy growing up. That's what I want.

"I don't know the ins and outs. It's professional sport. I don't know the details that go with it so I can't comment too heavily on it."


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Connacht Rugby IRFU Irish Rugby Johnny Sexton Leinster Rugby

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