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16th Mar 2023

Irish Rugby team captain Nichola Fryday tells Her that the team “can’t wait to get to Cardiff”

Clodagh McKeon

“We’re going to hit the ground running next Saturday”

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations gets underway on Saturday March 25th with Ireland’s first round away to Wales in Cardiff.

We caught up with Irish Rugby team captain, Nichola Fryday, who said her and the team are ready to hit the ground running in the competition.

The first match of the tournament is against Wales in Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday March 25th and will be broadcasted on RTE2 at 2:15pm.

Ireland took a defeat to Wales in last year’s first round of the Women’s Six Nations with the score 19:27 to Wales in Dublin.

Nichola said: “Obviously Wales, they edged us last year in the first round so, we’re under no illusion that they’re going to be a really tough first match again this year.

“The first game is the most exciting one because you’re getting out there for the first time so yeah, we can’t wait to get to Cardiff.

“I think we’re all just really excited for the opportunity.

“We’ve had a really good opportunity the last few weeks, getting game time with the Celtic League and the Combined Provinces.

“There’s been some really good work done in camp the last few weeks too so we’re just really excited to hit the ground running now next Saturday.”

With just over a week to go until the tournament begins, the Irish team are focusing on the details of their game play. Nichola said re-connecting with each other is a huge part of playing well.

A lot of the Ireland team travelled to Japan last year as the Ireland Women’s Sevens players prepared for the Rugby World Cup Sevens and so they were very close as a team.

Fryday said it’s important that they maintain that bond because it makes a huge difference to the way they play together.

So, spending time together on and off the pitch is almost like their pre-tournament ritual.

She said: “Some of the team are based in Ireland and some are here in the UK and so it’s really important for us to get back together and spend time with each other ahead of the competition.”

Ireland have a very tough few weeks ahead.

They’ll meet Wales in the first round next week, then France at home in Musgrave Park Cork, Italy is next, then England and finally, Scotland.

Speaking with Her, Nichola said that her whole family will be cheering her on and supporting the Irish team pitch side at every game this year, no matter where in the world.

She laughed and said: “Oh yeah, they’re coming, they’ve already booked their flights and accommodation, everything.”

As captain of the team, Nichola is a strong leader and has a job to encourage and motivate her team when times get tough during a game.

She said there are leaders all across the pitch and so they rely on each other in a game but says she does have a strategy.

She said: ‘You look at a match senario in ten minute box intervals. You come together and focus on what you can work on in the next half and discuss what you’re doing well and just build on it.

“Half-time is about re-grouping and then getting our key work in, I suppose, that’s the main thing.

“Taking it in ten minute blocks is a big thing because a lot can change in ten minutes in rugby so it’s about staying in the present and not trying to think too far ahead of yourself.

“Especially towards the end of the match, we stay present and we focus on what we can do and what we can control.”

Following the recent update to the RFU’s maternity leave policy, Nichola told Her.ie that she thinks Ireland will introduce those changes too.

She said: “When you get signed to a team, you’re contracted and it should be like every other job that has maternity leave.

“I think it would be a good move for Ireland to follow suit with Englands new updates and I think they will eventually.”

It’s important that women playing sports can get the security and the stability they deserve in a job and the introduction of this new maternity leave policy would go a long way in making players feel safe in their jobs.

“Players might not see their partners for days”

Nichola Fryday, along with many other sportswomen, has put in years and years of hard graft into her impressive sporting career and said it’s not been easy.

She first started playing rugby with her local club, Tullamore RFU and immediately took to the sport. She’s since played for Galwegians, Old Belvedere and joined Blackrock College RFC in 2020.

In November 2021, Exeter Chiefs Women announced that they had signed Fryday from Blackrock and Connacht.

She’s said in past interviews that she never expected to get a professional contract as a women’s rugby player but has clearly exceeded her own expectations when she got signed to Ireland in 2016.

When speaking about the early days of her rugby career, Nichola shared that her life was non-stop.

She said: “It was very busy starting a career in rugby as it is for everyone.

“You’re working full-time while trying to juggle training, games, family, friends, everything.

“Finding an employer who is understanding about you taking time off for training camps and away games is a challenge in itself but I was always very lucky.

“So yeah, it’s a very busy like some players might not see their partners and families for a few days because they’d be so busy doing everything.”

We’re already buzzing to watch the Irish women play next Saturday and we know Nichola and the rest of the girls will put on a spectacular performance and make Ireland proud.

But, before we let Nichola go back to more pressing matters that is rugby, we wanted to know a little bit more about the second-row rugby star.

We asked her what she would she be doing if she wasn’t playing rugby.

“I’d probably be doing a lot of CrossFit.

“I obviously love being active so I think if I wan’t playing rugby, I’d be working and doing CrossFit. When I was younger, I did a lot of horse riding so that is definitely something that I’d like to get back into.

“Whenever I finish up with rugby in a few years, I’d like to go back into the horse riding.”

Nichola Fryday is a seriously talented woman so we wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her top of the horse racing game in the future.

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