Ireland's Brittany Hogan. Ben Brady/INPHO
home comforts

'I said to my family, 'If you don’t come I’m going to be a little bit annoyed''

Brittany Hogan is hoping to see plenty of her family coming to Belfast for their final Six Nations game against Scotland.

FOLLOWING PREVIOUS OUTINGS at the RDS and Virgin Media Park in the earlier rounds of the tournament, Brittany Hogan is excited to find herself in familiar surroundings for Ireland’s final game of the Women’s Six Nations tomorrow afternoon.

Just like in the 2022 edition of the Championship, the Irish will finish off this year’s campaign with a closing day showdown against Scotland at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. From the small village of Killinchy in Co. Down, Hogan is one of just two Ulster natives in the Ireland starting line-up for the game – the other being Ballymena woman Neve Jones.

She wasn’t involved two years ago when a try and conversion from Enya Breen got Ireland past the Scots with a single point to spare, but it won’t be her first time lining out at the Ravenhill venue.

Having featured there for a Combined Provinces XV in a 19-0 win over a Wales Development XV in February 2023 during the inaugural Celtic Challenge, she returned to Kingspan in the colours of the Wolfhounds for the second season of the same competition earlier this year and scored a try in a 41-10 success against Brython Thunder.

“I’m well acquainted with the pitch. I’m well acquainted with the surroundings and where the nearest coffee shop is even! It’s nice to know my surroundings. That’s my home, so it’s really nice,” Hogan said in a press conference from the IRFU’s High Performance Centre earlier this week.

“I’ll be able to have a lot of my family come up as well because I’ve got a lot of young cousins who can’t do that travel, so it’s really nice that I’ll hopefully have a lot of family support as well.

“I kind of said to my family ‘I’m playing an international game in Belfast in the Kingspan, if you don’t come I’m going to be a little bit annoyed!’ So hoping that a good majority of them will.”

Still just 25 years of age, Hogan has been a part of the IRFU system for much of her adult life. After being handed a professional contract with the union’s sevens programme a few weeks shy of her 19th birthday in August 2017, she went on to make her debut in the Dubai leg of the World Series towards the end of the following year.

A 15s test bow eventually arrived in a behind closed doors Six Nations fixture against Italy in October 2020 and she will pick up her 23rd cap in the code at Kingspan this weekend.

“I’m well used to the HPC. It’s kind of my second home now at the moment. I just live around the corner as well. I’m well used to the set-up and playing both 7s and 15s the past couple of years. I’m part of the furniture now apparently!”

Yet it wasn’t always clear that rugby was going to be Hogan’s sport of choice. A prominent hockey player with both North Down Hockey Club and her school Down High School, she also played Gaelic football for RGU Downpatrick and Carryduff before eventually joining the ranks of Ballynahinch RFC.

In addition to featuring on the local LGFA scene in Down, Hogan also lined out for her native county at underage level. It might be tempting to think she could have been part of Down’s All-Ireland junior ladies football championship final success over Limerick at Croke Park last August, but Hogan is adamant that playing rugby was the right decision for her in the long-term.

“Rugby wasn’t involved in my school and I wasn’t brought into my local club Ballynahinch until a little bit further on in my age and my teens. I didn’t actually start playing until I was 15. The only reason I did was because the training days happened to fall on the days that I was free. I tried a new sport and as soon as I tried it, I loved it. Never looked back then,” Hogan added.

“I don’t think it was that tough [a decision to focus on rugby]. It’s such a unique game and I think it just suits my physical characteristics much better than GAA and hockey. I just found the game for me and I seamlessly just went to it.”

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