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'There are people coming from New Zealand and Australia to get their caps'

Niamh Briggs is delighted that over 100 female players will finally be awarded caps for playing for Ireland.

SUNDAY IS A big day for Irish women’s rugby for the fact that the national team takes on Scotland in the Six Nations, but also because more than 100 players who played in Tests for Ireland between 1993 and 2006 will finally be officially awarded an international cap.

The IRFU announced this week that its president, Philip Orr, will make the long-overdue presentations at Sunday’s post-match dinner.

Fiona Steed of Ireland 2/2/2002 Fiona Steed is among the players who played for Ireland before caps were awarded. Source: INPHO

For Irish women to have represented their country in competitive international fixtures without the reward of an official cap has always felt wrong, but the shortcoming is now being resolved.

The move comes largely due to the work of Su Carty and Mary Quinn, who are currently carrying out a strategic review into Irish women’s rugby on behalf of the IRFU.

It’s a move that lends far more credibility to women’s rugby in Ireland, and one that respects the legacy left by the women who played for their country from 1993 onwards.

“It’s brilliant,” current Ireland out-half Niamh Briggs told The42 today. “These are the people that paved the way for us and, in fairness, they have campaigned for it.

“It’s hugely positive and now we can keep looking forward as opposed to looking back. They are a huge part of our history and our culture, so it’s great.

“There are people coming from New Zealand and Australia to get their caps and that’s a huge thing. I know Su Carty has been working really hard behind the scenes to get it done.”

The Irish Women’s Rugby Football Union [IWRFU] once oversaw women’s rugby on a voluntary basis but there was a gradual integration into the IRFU that saw the union present caps for the first time at the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup, before women’s rugby came fully under IRFU control in the 2008/09 season.

Niamh Briggs Ireland out-half Niamh Briggs has backed the move. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Carty and Quinn have recently compiled a full list of the players who represented Ireland in competitive international games before 2006, dating all the way back to the first-ever Ireland Women’s game against Scotland on 14 February 1993.

This move by the IRFU will perhaps lend an even greater weight to the efforts of the greats who have previously played for Ireland Women.

“Fiona Steed is one of the biggest ones and she still hasn’t got her cap,” said Briggs. “Rosie Foley, Sinead Cosgrave, there are a huge amount of people and there’s over 100 who are going to get caps on Sunday.”

Source: The42 Podcasts/SoundCloud

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