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vaxx sake Rugby’s jab uptake heaps pressure on Irish soccer stars

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Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland's Callum Robinson. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Almost all of Ireland’s professional rugby players, coaches and support staff have been vaccinated, according to figures issued by the IRFU yesterday – turning the spotlight on the slow uptake among soccer stars playing in England.

It comes against the backdrop of Ireland striker Callum Robinson speaking about his decision not to take the jab and Stephen Kenny’s revelation that a significant number of his Ireland squad are of a similar mind.

In contrast, the IRFU confirmed that 99.2pc of those involved with its professional teams have received the vaccine.

“The IRFU confirm that the current vaccination rate across our professional team structures, which includes players, coaches and support staff, is 99.2pc,” a statement read.

“This includes a small number of people who are awaiting a second dose.”

The high take-up will be a comfort to those running rugby considering the huge financial losses the sport incurred as a result of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the FAI has moved to clarify its position ahead of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.

They issued a statement yesterday that confirmed all players and staff are tested for Covid-19 before reporting for international duty and are repeatedly tested in camp.

“We have encouraged all our players at all levels of the game to be vaccinated but we respect and must accept the right of all individuals to make a personal choice on Covid-19 vaccination,” the FAI statement added.

In the aftermath of the storm created by Robinson’s comments, an U-21 team press conference arranged by the FAI – which was scheduled to be held in-person at Abbotstown – was instead hosted online. Several members of Jim Crawford’s squad have not been vaccinated and that has impacted on their week, with a number of UK-based players set to sit out Tuesday’s away game with Montenegro as it stands.

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