Sports Woman of the Year Fiona Coghlan


How have the Irish women’s rugby team risen up as a minority in this established sport to become international players? It has been through sheer hard work, dedication and success that they have won the respect of the Irish Nation.

The honour of Sportswoman of the Year was awarded to Fiona Coughlan, captain of the Irish women’s rugby team, who led the team to victory in Milan with their first ever grand slam in the Six Nations Championship 2013.

That followed their triple crown win by beating Scotland, England and Wales and securing their place in the Rugby World Cup 2015. A major victory for the sport, Fiona states, “When we beat England, who have been the standard bearers for so long, people started to sit up and take notice”.

Fiona’s position on the team is loose head prop, making her front line on the outside during the scrum and supporting the jumper to compete for the ball. She practices up to six times per week and takes one day off for recovery. Originally from Clontarf, she started rugby as a student at University of Limerick and is still a member of UL Bohemians.

Her very first impression of rugby was underwhelming, she says. “I kind of just went out rugby training, at first it was technical and I got a little bit bored until I played my first game.”

The IRFU announced that the team will play against Italy on the 8th March 2014 in The Aviva Stadium after the Irish men’s game, and also against Italy, as part of the RBS Six Nations Super Saturday. This will be an exceptional day for Irish rugby as it is the first time the women’s team will play in a national stadium. They have approximately 5,000 supporters but the fear is that in a 50,000 seater stadium that that support will seem small, unless the men’s supporters stick around. Fiona states, “We hope after the men’s game that people will stay on. It’s about catching their attention in the first five or 10 minutes to keep the fans there for the remainder of the match”.

Her advice to women who want to get in to rugby is to go to a local club and most importantly play your first game. “Give it a go and you will love it.”

Photo of Fiona Coughlan courtesy Corporate Reputations.

By Leeza Kane