Hi I’m Eliza Downey and over the next month I’ll be giving you my take on the Ladies Rugby World Cup 2010.
The last two years leading up to this tournament have been a whirlwind for me. In my final year of University in-between playing Ladies Gaelic for the poly and ‘studying’ I decided to take up a new sport, Rugby… after training and playing my first competitive game against Queens I knew I was hooked!
Following on from that the roller-coaster began, after representing Jordanstown at the Carrick 10′s the Ulster coach invited me to trial. Over the next few months I was taken completely out of my comfort zone training/learning/competing against girls who were much more experienced/confident than me, but I persevered and luckily got selected for the squad and the starting 15. I learnt alot over the Inter-provincials and scored 3 tries which helped me grow in confidence.
Meanwhile I also had started training with my club Cooke Ladies RFC who from the start offered constant support and guidance, encouraging me to ask questions and go through certain elements of the game until i got it right, the enthusiasm the players and coaches have definitely encouraged me to push myself and to them I owe alot.
Through another season of inter-pros and two seasons at Cooke I definitely have learnt alot about the game, there have been lows and highs as with any sports team, matches won and lost, tackles made and missed, tries scored (sometimes over the end line, I never lived that one down) and lessons learnt on and off the pitch… but on reflection I can only ever recall happy memories.
Having been called up to trial for the 2010 6 Nations team I never thought I would make the final 25, again I was totally out of my comfort zone but knew it was a challenge that would enhance me as a player. I was lucky enough to get a little playing time over the competition and got two caps. As a player it is always frustrating not getting alot of pitch time as you want to justify your selection on squad by playing well in front of your peers on the team and management but I used that frustration in a constructive way when it came to the World Cup Squad trials. An initial pool of 44 players were chosen for the extended squad and gradually it was whittled down to 26, competition was very tough and the training camps were constantly challenging. Honestly I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d make the final 26 but now that I have I intend to train hard and look forward to the adventure ahead.
The support and advice from the girls and management is invaluable and the individual guidance/encouragement from my experienced fellow Ulster/Cooke team mate Lauren Day has been a great help. Along with the rest of the team i was devastated for Lauren when she picked up her current injury that will keep her from playing in the World cup, on personal level I have seen the amount of effort and focus she has put into training leading up to the competition and she will be a massive loss on and off the pitch… Get well soon Laurie
With just under 3 weeks to go to the England match, training will be intense, hopes will be high and the adrenaline will be flowing.