First hijab-wearing female to play Irish rugby

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Muslim player Ruba Rosalina Bukhatwa, also known as Rose, has been welcomed to rugby training sessions at Tallaght Women’s RFC by her teammates in what has been called ‘a real progression’ for women’s sports.

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Ruba Rosalina Bukhatwa (pictured centre), picture from irishnews.com

Rose has been very involved in sports from a young age but after only joining the team recently she was very keen to play the game in her traditional hijab headscarf which she has worn since she was a child and the club were more than willing to facilitate her wishes.

They wasted no time in approaching the IRFU, requesting that this Law student could play competitive rugby while wearing her hijab. Women’s Development Officer at the South Dublin club, Martina Fitzpatrick, has said that she was surprised at the speed with which the IRFU dealt with the exceptional request.

In just a few short weeks the IRFU came back saying they would permit Rose to wear her headscarf with only a few minor requirements- an agreement to tuck the scarf into her jersey and she has also been advised to wear a scrum cap over it to ensure that any lose parts stay close to her head for the duration of the game.

This was no problem for Rose as she understands that safety is a vital consideration, but so is players to still be able to respect their beliefs during play.

Rose is probably the first hijab-wearing female rugby player in Ireland and hopefully this will attract lots of more women to the game.

The 18 year-old, who was born in Ireland to Libyan parents and raised in Dublin as a Muslim has said, “I was never shunned out of playing sports. But when I went to Santry for athletics, where I did shot put, discus and javelin, people were more impressed than anything by it. I never got any bad comments about it.

“It was like a fashion statement at first when I was young, but when you grow older you learn more. For me I like the fact that I can represent Islam.”

This is another breakthrough in female sports in Ireland after footballer Fadhila Hajji, also from Tallaght, took to the pitch in her headscarf following the lifting of a ban on head covers during matches by Fifa in 2014.

The teenager made her debut with Dublin’s first Muslim women’s football team, Diverse City FC, at the Fair Play Cup on World Refugee Day in May 2014.

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