‘People ask me if I’d like to go professional. I would but we’re not there yet, we’re a good bit off’

Home / ‘People ask me if I’d like to go professional. I would but we’re not there yet, we’re a good bit off’

‘PLEASE DON’T MAKE me look like a nerd,” Niamh Briggs asks with a laugh after she tells The42 that her hobby is consuming as much sports as possible, and if there are statistics to go with it, all the better.

Briggs loves all sports – a look at her Twitter feed sees congratulatory messages for Padraig Harrington and the Irish cricket team – but naturally as the captain of the Ireland women’s team, the oval ball plays the biggest role in her life.

Ireland’s fairytale run to the World Cup semi-final last August grabbed the country’s attention and last Friday saw a memorable 11-8 win over England, the team who comprehensively beat them in that final four game.

Briggs talks enthusiastically about the impact the Irish team’s recent displays have had on the women’s game in the country. She singles out Listowel and a few other areas in Ireland that have a lot of young girls playing the sport, despite not being parts of the country where rugby traditionally prospers.

But despite the increased exposure the women’s game has received in Ireland over the last few months, Briggs would still like her squad to have a little more resources.

“People always ask me would I like to go professional,” Briggs said.

Briggs commends the efforts made by the IRFU to grow the game in the aftermath of the World Cup, and thinks it is important to for young girls to have female sporting role models to inspire them to get involved.

“It is great for girls to have role models,” Briggs said.

Niamh Briggs is a Persil Kits for Schools ambassador and recently visited her old primary school, Scoil Mhuire, as part of the campaign. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The best way for women’s rugby to attract new players is to keep winning and the victory over England is as big as they come. The World Cup-winners have lost their coach and some key players since the triumph but a victory over the Red Rose is still a major scalp.

However, Briggs focused more on the implications the victory had for the team’s championship chances. A 10-5 loss in Ashbourne to France in round two was a big blow for Tom Tierney’s side, and put a lot of pressure on the squad ahead of the England game.

“We have had a lot of memorable wins over the last few years and really, this was just another game for us,” Briggs said.

Briggs always seems to play a key part in Ireland’s big wins and last Friday was no different, as she kicked the winning score late in the game.

She didn’t seem too fussed about the match-winning kick though.

“It’s just part of the job really,” Briggs said.

“A scrum-half needs to organise the forwards and a hooker needs to throw into the lineout.”

Briggs works hard to combine her work as a guard with her rugby career. A typical day can be a gym session, followed by a 9-5 shift and then a pitch session but the fullback says she doesn’t get run-down despite the hectic schedule.

She has never had to put her defensive skills to use on the streets of Limerick to tackle a criminal either.

“I haven’t had to do that, I believe in the power of verbal persuasion,” Briggs laughed.

“I talk myself into a few situations but I probably talk myself out of more.”

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