Rugby stars line out for International Girls Rugby Day in Carrick-on-Suir

More than 200 girls attend rugby Carrick-on-Suir RFC camp led by Referee of the Year Joy Neville and other women's rugby stars

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Rugby stars line out for International Girls Rugby Day in Carrick-on-Suir

Women's rugby stars who attended Carrick-on-Suir RFC's International Girls Rugby Day: Alison Miller, Amanda Greensmith, Fiona Reidy, Fiona Coghlan, Joy Neville, Kate O'Loughlin and Mary Louise Reilly.

Up to 175 girls from five local primary schools tried out rugby under the guidance of former and current Ireland and Munster women's rugby stars at Carrick-on-Suir Rugby Club on Monday morning. 

The Club's first ever International Girls Rugby Day was such a success that there are plans to make it an annual event. 

Carrick RFC's Girls Rugby Officer Kathleen Fleming said it was a fantastic occasion  and all the children had a ball taking part in rugby skills sessions. She revealed that many have expressed an interest in attending training sessions at the Club as a result of their experience at the event. 

Students from Carrick-on-Suir’s Presentation Primary School, Ballyneale NS, Crehana NS, Portlaw and Kilmacthomas NS took part in the morning summer camp blessed with glorious sunshine.  Carrick RFC's U-15 and U-18 girls players also took part bringing the number of participants to more than 200. RTE Sout East Correspondent Damien Tiernan featured the event on the RTE 1 6pm news on Monday.  

Rugby Referee of the Year Joy Neville, Irish and Munster rugby stars Alison Miller, Fiona Reidy, Leah Lyons and Mary Louise “Maz” Reilly; former internationals Kate O'Loughlin and Fiona Coghlan and Munster Women's Development Officer Amanda Greensmith put the children through their paces leading them through fun rugby skills sessions. 

The summer camp kicked off with a parade of the participating school groups each representing a different rugby playing country. 

The  Presentation Primary School's dazzling display of the Irish colours  that included a haka dance as gaeilge and an exuberant rendition of "Ireland's Call"  won the best parade entry prize of €200 and free entry for students to Carrick RFC's "Give It a Try" summer camp  running every Wednesday evening until July 25. 

Crehana National School' students dressed in the black jerseys representing New Zealand also performed a very impressive haka dance.  Rachel Hanrahan and Ida Mai Barnacle were two sixth class students from Crehana NS enjoying the event. Rachel said she started playing rugby last September and finds it good fun while Ida Mai said she gave up playing rugby but would like to start playing it again. 

Presentation Primary School teacher Muireann Malone said 53 fourth and fifth class students from their school were taking part in the International Girls Rugby Day. "We are trying to promote sport in general amongst the students. We had a big push with the senior girls with soccer and when the opportunity came up to take part in this event we went for it," she explained.  

Joy Neville, who is a former Irish international rugby player as well as top referee, said it was great to see so many young girls taking part in this event and she was delighted to be a part of it. 

She paid tribute to Kathleen Fleming and all the coaches and volunteers at Carrick RFC for the effort they have put into promoting girls rugby. 

Former Irish international Kate O'Loughlin from Carrick-on-Suir brought students from Portlaw National School where she works   to the event. 

 "I think rugby is a great game for girls and I think this is  a brilliant opportunity for them to come and see the club,  try out the sport and see female sports stars they can aspire to be," she said. 

Carrick RFC's U-18 Irish rugby international Maggie Boylan was also at the summer camp. She said she took up rugby just a year and a half ago after encouragement from her dad, who is a member along with her brother. She hasn't looked back since. 

"It's a good way to get out for a run and it's great craic," she told The Nationalist.

Check out more photos of the event in the printed edition of The Nationalist now in shops.