Thursday, 4 September 2014

Interview With Irish Womens Rugby Legend Fiona Coghlan.

For the past few years men's rugby has always been dominant in receiving the most coverage in the media, I personally being a major fan of Irish rugby throughout the years rarely heard any mention or update on how the woman's was progressing in this country. Until recently this has changed drastically in the past two years women's rugby has came into the limelight of the media and is being focused on more attentively these days.
The growth of interest in women's rugby is growing ever so fast compared to years ago. Women's rugby has really climbed up the social media ranks and is highlighting the point that so many women of different backgrounds and cultures are joining together in various teams throughout the country to show the enjoyment and popularity of the sport in this country. 
These women are demonstrating how and what was once deemed socially unacceptable for women to play rugby is now more than ever such a popular sport for young girls and women to play. 
The main women to thank for this is the current successful hardworking and determined Irish Women's rugby who finished in the rugby world cup just last month. There women are role models and inspirational to young girls and women throughout Ireland to encourage them that it is socially acceptable to play rugby.
I caught up with the rugby legend and captain of the Irish women's rugby team Fiona Coghlan to discuss the major impact her and her team have made throughout Ireland and how they have changed the social media perception of women's rugby.
They have captured and conquered the attention the past month. I was intrigued to find out what Fiona had to say about her recent success with her team mates. 

So of course I start with the basics and ask Fiona how she got into rugby? and if it was always something she was interested in..
 ''I was a sports mad teenager, playing every sport I could, jack of all master of none.There was no option to play rugby when I was younger but I would have watched my brother play and the Internationals. I went to college in UL and as you do in Freshers week, signed up for everything including rugby. I wasn't too taken with it after my first few sessions but once I played my first game I was hooked.'' 

Next I had to ask Fiona about how she finds it being a woman in such a male dominated sport..
''I've had such a positive response to playing rugby and I was involved in a club that fully embraced and respected the women's team. Normally people that slag women's rugby have never been to a game or else have seen a poor game and think that is all women's rugby''

It's clear to see however that there has been a massive increased support for women's rugby, not just in Ireland but across the world. 
''It is excellent to see any Women's sport get exposure and I'm obviously delighted that rugby it a sport in the limelight at the moment. I think the standard of the game has improved immensely and as result has found a new fan-base. In France there were sell-out crowds at both venues but to see a full 20,000 seater stadium for the semi's and the final was brilliant. On top of that 2.9 million French people watched their semi-final against Canada. With TG4 showing our games over half a million people were watching, which proves that there is an appetite for the Women's game.I feel it is important for the next generation to see it as a norm to see and go to Women's sporting events'' 

I then deiced I had to ask does it bother you that women's rugby isn't as built up as the men's game?
''It used to but we have to be realistic about things too. The men's game has been around a lot longer, they have more people involved and they generate a lot of money. You need to be successful in order to gain peoples recognition and respect and hopefully now we have done that so in the future things will be even better. It's not just women's rugby that doesn't get built up it's women's sport in general'' 
Fiona leading out her team.
Fiona has captioned the women into victory so many times now that I asked how she felt when she was chosen as captain..
''I was vice captain since 2004 firstly under Suzanne Fleming and then Sarah Jane Belton. When I was asked I didn't need to think about it I accepted immediately. I knew not much would change I would still be doing the same thing with just some added responsibilities but with the way our team work I have such good support networks around me''

Last week it was announced that the RFU would offer their women's team professional contracts, so I asked Fiona what she thought of this..
''To be honest the RFU are not the first to have contracted players.  In Ireland we have a number of players contracted to play Sevens, as do a number of other countries.
When people think professional contracts they think of the big money that their male counterparts would be on, no figures have been released but I would imagine the sum of money they receive is quite small''

To our despair Fiona has now decided to hang up her boots what is her all time career highlights and of course, the low points (not that there is many)
''Career high would be winning the Grand Slam & the historically beating of the Black Ferns.
The lows, not performing at all against England in WRWC 2014 and not beating France when we could have in WRWC 2014''


So much hard work and dedication goes into the training for these women especially in the build up to big matches,
what's the diet regime for the world cup you ask?...
Three months prior to the World Cup it was fairly intense, 2 day camps every weekend, we 3 morning sessions and 3 evening session during the week and a recovery session, leaving you with one day off.  Diet wise, it is very important to fuel your body for the amount of exercise that you are doing, but you have to put in quality food.  I found I wasn't consuming enough calories for the amount of work I was doing so I had to increase it''

With Fiona hanging up her boots, does it really mean we won't see her again? -Well we hope not any chance you'd consider coaching the girls Fiona???
''My reason for retiring was the time commitment so to get involved in  coaching it is a big time commitment too.  Also I am a far way off the standard of International coaching at the moment and would definitely to do a number of courses and coach other teams prior to International.  I wouldn't rule it out in the future but not right now..' 


I then finally ask Fiona what was the best piece of advice she's ever been given..
''Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. I was never the fastest player or the most skillful but I always gave 100% in training and in matches and I suppose that's why I've been around for so long. In sport, at times you get knocked by not being selected etc but it's times like that, that drive you to work even harder''

And so my interview with this rugby legend comes to an end, I for one would just like to thank Fiona for all her hard work and I know I'm not the only one to say I'm proud of each of those women!!
Showing the men how it's done....
Who run the world??.......

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