'A mother handed a child to Beibhinn Parsons and said 'here, I named her after you''

Despite Saturday’s Women’s Six Nations defeat to Wales, there is a real sense of optimism around the Ireland team according to two of its players.

Ireland wing Beibhinn Parsons, pictured after an Ireland international in November 2021.
Ireland wing Beibhinn Parsons, pictured after an Ireland international in November 2021.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Updated Mar 28th 2022, 9:32 PM

IT IS THE beginning of a new dawn for the Ireland women’s rugby team. 

After the fall-out from last year’s failure to qualify for the upcoming World Cup, the appointment of head coach Greg McWilliams, increased investment from the IRFU and the creation of a new role of head of women’s performance and pathways were all seen as positive steps. 

And while defeat to Wales on the opening weekend of the Women’s Six Nations – a side Ireland scored 45 unanswered points against 12 months ago – has dampened some of the excitement, reasons to be optimistic remain. 

6,113 supporters were present at the RDS for Saturday’s match, a record attendance for a standalone women’s international in this country. 

Two players involved on the day, Eimear Considine and Hannah O’Connor, joined the panel to discuss it on this week’s episode of The Front Row – The42′s new rugby podcast in partnership with Guinness.

Fullback Considine says she could feel the buzz around the ground, even after the result hadn’t gone their way. 

“We lost together as a group and everyone stuck together as a group, which has been really different than in the past,” she explained. 

“Even though we lost, we were disappointed but there was still so much optimism in the group.

“I’m not just saying that now on a podcast to be really positive to the media, but it honestly was really different in the changing room.

“The crowd yesterday [was amazing], and we haven’t played rugby in front of a home crowd in two years.

“Since that time, we’ve got an independent window as a women’s squad, which has raised the visibility and the promotion of the game.

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“You stepped off the field and these little girls and boys were looking for your photos and autographs and they did not care that you lost that game. They genuinely did not care that you lost the game.

They were just so proud. They were so happy to get you to sign their jersey, sign their hands. A mother handed a child to Beibhinn Parsons and said ‘here, I named my child after you’.

“I got to see my family after a game, which I haven’t in so long. The wins really, really matter but then there’s more to it. There’s the inspiring the next generation, there’s the crowd of people that were there cheering for you – win, lose or draw. I think that fed into our optimism as well.

“There’s so much more in us, there’s so much more in the future, there’s so much more here for women’s rugby and I think we know that this is the start of something really good. It genuinely is and I think that’s why there was so much optimism.”

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