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Sophie Spence announces retirement from international rugby after omission from Six Nations squad

‘I had hoped to finish my career after playing in one last Six Nations, but it is not to be.’

FORMER WORLD RUGBY Player of the Year nominee Sophie Spence has announced her retirement from international rugby.

Sophie Spence Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The powerful second row made her debut for Ireland in 2012 before helping Philip Doyle’s side to a Grand Slam success and a Six Nations Championship either side of the sensational World Cup display in 2014 that included the historic victory over the Black Ferns.

The 30-year-old, who coaches through her own academy for girls, was a notable absentee from Adam Griggs’ first squad in charge of the international side. And just over two hours after the 38-strong group for the Six Nations was unveiled, Spence released her own statement:

It is with regret that I am announcing my retirement. I had hoped to finish my career after playing in one last Six Nations, but it is not to be. I have been incredibly proud to pull on the Irish jersey and to play for Ireland alongside such talented team-mates.”

Spence signed off with the hope that women’s rugby can attain an equal level of respect as it moves forward and called for greater development in the structures that under-pin the senior grade.

Sophie Spence celebrates at the final whistle Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“The women’s game is at a critical junction and I hope to see it driven forward and to receive equal level of respect and treatment of players as the men’s game.

“We need development of the game at underage and U20 level. Through the Rugby Academy that I run across the country I see that the appetite is there, we just need to give young girls the opportunity to learn and develop their skills in the sport.”

9 uncapped players as Ireland Women build up to Six Nations without Spence and Murphy

Stockdale at fullback with fellow former U20 star McPhillips primed for Ulster debut

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Sean Farrell

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