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Development plans pay off for Trinity Women's Rugby

Published: February 15th 2019

The recent Sports Person of the Year at the Trinity Sport Awards and Trinity Women's Rugby star chats all things sport, college and how she balances her different commitments.

Where and when did you start playing rugby?

I started playing rugby in Wanderers Women’s Rugby Club. It was a club that just started a women's rugby team.  I used to play division 4 which is the lowest division in the Leinster league.

At what point did you realise you wanted to play for Ireland?

When I went for the Leinster trial after finishing my first rugby season, I really enjoyed it and I made the Leinster squad that year. I started to look at the Irish jersey. I knew it would take me time to get there but it was a long term goal of mine and hard work, dedication and sacrifice would get me there.

Do you, or did you used to, play any other sports?

I used to do athletics. 100m sprint, 100m relay and shot putt. I was a member of the Rush and Lusk Athletic Club.  I was really good at shotput and I won silver in the Leinster region and made it to the All-Ireland but unfortunately didn’t go due to family circumstances.  My parents weren’t supportive in my sporting achievements at that time.

Does sporting talent run in the family?

Yes I would say so. At the moment I am the only one that plays sport but I look at my nieces and nephew and I see a bit of me in them. They are the future.

What have you learned from playing team sports?

I have learned so much from playing a team sport. I have learned about myself which is so important. Team sport has definitely taught me about working together and supporting each other no matter what. It has taught me how to take criticism and compliments. It has taught me how to communicate with different people and respect one another. Being part of a team sport you get to learn every day.

How would you describe rugby, in particular, and playing for DUFC, in general, at Trinity?

I would describe rugby as a fun sport. It really brings people together and the friends that you make playing the sport, they last you for lifetime. Playing with DUFU is special. It’s always an honour to wear that red and black jersey because you don’t know when you are going to wear it again or play with the team again. As the year is over some move on. People go back home and others graduate and leave. It’s difficult and that’s why it’s very special for me to wear that jersey and share the pitch with a bunch of amazing girls full of talent. We did so well this year and got promoted to Division 2 so that a big step up for DUFC and the girls and coaches really deserve it. It’s great to see that all their hard work is being rewarded. I’m super proud to be part of this team.

What piece of advice would you give to other young girls out there who might want to follow in your footsteps?

I would definitely tell them to take a risk / chance at something they have never done before and no matter what that thing is, to give it 100% and have fun while doing it. I always wanted to represent my country at a sport and I never knew that rugby would give me that opportunity. It only happened because I took a risk / chance and I worked hard and enjoyed it. It’s not going to be easy at first but you should never give up. Anything that comes easy never lasts. The more you work hard for something, it will mean more to you and the reward will be priceless and worth it in the end.

How does it make you feel winning Sports Person of the Year?

I am very honoured and grateful. A young girl at the age of 9  brought from Cameroon to Ireland to be with her father, I never dreamed of being where I am in Trinity College or doing what I do at representing my country in a sport I am so passionate about. It’s a dream come true for me and my family back home. I still can’t believe it and I want to show other girls that are looking up to me that it’s possible. Everything is possible. Dreams do come true.

I was very surprised and humbled to be nominated. I was not expecting it. Everyone in that category deserved it and should be proud of themselves.  I was incredibly happy to have won it and I want to thank everyone who nominated me. It’s a masive achievement for myself. Thank you very much for the bottom of my heart. It really means a lot to me.

You’re coming into your final year of nursing. How have you managed to juggle all your academic and sporting commitments so far? What’s next for you?

I’m heading to my final year in September. I am a bit nervous and excited about it. I don’t know how I will manage for placements and a 9 month internship starting from January. The School of Nursing have been so supportive of me and we have spoken briefly about next year and the challenges that lie ahead. Being a sport scholar has been amazing, it’s great to have the facilities and the support is massive. I do appreciate everything. The TAP programme have been very helpful and continue to support me in everything I do.  The support all around is amazing and I couldn’t have asked for anything else.  I am so glad I am surrounded with so many supportive people who help me to stay focused and help me to balance everything.  I do have to manage my time next year very well. Especially when we are heading to the World Cup qualification year. I want to be part of that squad that qualify for the World Cup and at the same time finish my degree.

  • Photo (above) l-r: Sophie O'Halloran (Bank of Ireland, Trinity Branch), Linda Djougang and Matthew Dossett (Deputy Head of Sport)