I love rugby, I’ve played it and watched it since I’ve been 10 years old, some 40 plus years ago.
I love Ulster Rugby — from the eras of Rainey, Ringland, Crossan, Anderson, Matthews and Carr to the current squad of players.
I’ve been a season ticket holder and still regularly attend matches. But here’s the thing, I love my three daughters and my partner more.
I respect them as my equal. I respect them as I myself want to be respected by them. I treat them as I myself want to be treated by them. I talk about them, and talk to them as I myself want them to talked about me and talk to me.
I am proud of them as I myself want them to be proud of me.
I brought my eight-year-old daughter to the Woman’s World Cup semi-final last year at Kingspan Stadium — her first game of rugby. Together, we celebrated a wonderful day for women, for woman’s rugby and a wonderful day for one little girl.
Since I started going to watch Ulster on a regular basis the numbers of fans have grown wonderfully and with this the number of women, boys and girls attending matches have also grown. Part of this growth includes the marketing and personalising of the players – the media opportunities, the corporate events, the community events, the charitable events and the direct engagement with children and young people through training and visits.
Players are roles models and must have an understanding of their role in our modern society.
However, as a father, a son and a brother, and as a Ulster Rugby fan, following the revelations of their attitudes towards women in their social media conversations, it would be incongruous for me to attend, or take my daughters to Kingspan if Jackson and Olding are playing.
Their lack of respect and denigration of women is not acceptable. There is talk of many Ulster supporters not renewing their season tickets if Olding and Jackson are not reinstated.
For Ulster Rugby, for broader society and to let the public how we need to respect women, losing a few season tickets would be a small price to pay.
Ken Smyth, Belfast BT5