LAST Sunday, Eimear Considine was desperately hoping not to hear her phone ringing. Instead, she was very keen to detect the ping of an email landing in her inbox.
The 26-year-old Kilmihil girl eventually received confirmation that she had made the 28-player Irish squad for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which will be staged in this country from next month. Ireland will play their opening game against Australia on August 9 in the UCD bowl. They are also grouped with Japan (August 13) and France (August 17).
“You got an email if you were picked and you got a phonecall if you weren’t. So I was hoping my phone wouldn’t ring,” the PE and Irish teacher at St Mary’s in Glasnevin mused.
“I was up at cock-crow. I couldn’t sleep because it was always on my mind. The waiting was the hardest part of it. Initially, the squad was to be announced two weeks ago but it was postponed further because of injuries.”
Considine, who has two caps and made her debut in the 2017 Six Nations, started playing rugby less than three years ago. A Clare ladies football and camogie dual player, she was a top class exponent of both games but did not have a grá for rugby.
“I’ll be playing rugby three years in October. I think I’m probably the newest to rugby in the squad. I had zero interest. I remember watching the women win the Grand Slam against Italy. I said to mam: ‘I’d never play that’. Then I found myself playing 7s and when I was playing that, a lot of people were asking, would I play ‘proper’ rugby? A lot of people think 7s isn’t proper rugby. But I thought I would never manage 15s,” she reflected.
Making the transition to rugby 7s from ladies football and camogie was challenging but so too was the change from 7s to 15s in the oval ball game.
“I didn’t realise until I started playing 15s, how different the games are. Little things like having two wingers instead of one. In 15s, it’s very structured, whereas in 7s, it’s play what you see because there is so much space. It was totally different. I felt like I was starting all over again.
“Everything is planned and everything is a call and you had to remember the call and what you were supposed to do for that call,” she continued.
Currently on holidays from her teaching post, Eimear says that most of her colleagues continue to work full-time while representing Ireland on the international stage.
“A few might have cut back their hours this year but the majority are still working. I’m lucky that I’m on holidays and I can focus solely on rugby. I’m training more than I’ve ever trained but everyone is in the same boat. Everyone gets up, goes to the gym, goes to work and then trains in the evening. You can’t complain because everyone is doing it.
“In 7s, it was a professional programme and you didn’t need to work, whereas I was working. I felt like I was chasing people who had been relaxing all day. Even though I’m training more, I’m enjoying it a lot more.”
Club-wise, Considine is attached to UL Bohs in Limerick but has yet to play regularly for them, given that she is regularly away in the international camp.
“I joined Bohs around October or November last year. We won the championship and the cup. That finished around April. It ran through the Six Nations, so I didn’t get to play a lot with my club because we were in camp. You want to be involved with your club and you don’t want to just come back for the semi-final and final stages. But it’s the same across the board.”
Having grown up in a GAA environment, Considine misses playing with her club and county alongside her sister, Ailish. But she doesn’t regret giving the rugby her time and effort.
“The hardest was in Croke Park last year when Clare lost to Kildare. That was hard but I had made the choice not to play because rugby had taken over. Had I gone back, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have had the break and I just needed time-out from it. Recently I met somebody and they asked me was I Ailish’s sister. I was like: ‘ya’. It’s not often that happens but I enjoyed that,” she smiled.
From this weekend onwards, the world cup hype will really start to build.
“We’ll be based in UCD, so we’ll go in next Saturday to camp. We have a training weekend this weekend. Everyone is asking me for tickets but the group games are sold out. Mam or people around at home wouldn’t have much interest in going if they didn’t know somebody playing,” the international winger said.
By Peter O’Connell