‘The big thing for me is to lead by example in terms of a healthy lifestyle’
‘The big thing for me is to lead by example in terms of a healthy lifestyle’

‘The big thing for me is to lead by example in terms of a healthy lifestyle’

OFFICIALLY THE OFF-SEASON, but Ireland women’s captain Ciara Griffin is not one to slow down, and next month she will help raise vital funds by partaking in the 36th edition of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. 

The 175-kilometre race will this year set off on Saturday 6 July and Griffin — recently named Munster women’s player of the year and the women’s player of the year at the Rugby Players Ireland awards — will be among those tackling the challenging course.

Griffin leads Ireland out during this year’s Six Nations. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Griffin, a primary school teacher by day, is raising money for Recovery Haven in Tralee, with the annual event having raised over €16 million for local charities since the first edition in 1983.

“It was a no-brainer for me to get involved,” the flanker says. “Cycling is great as it’s non-impact and because Recovery Haven are totally self-funded, I wanted to do anything I could to support them.”

Griffin was in camp with the Ireland squad over the weekend as Adam Griggs hosted the first of three summer get-togethers, with the side bidding to put a difficult season behind them ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.

While Griffin’s individual performances were again outstanding, the team lost four of their five Six Nations outings to finish fifth and Ireland now face a big task to qualify for the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand. 

The IRFU are hoping to organise a couple of November internationals, and although the inter-provincial series is due to take place at the end of the summer, Griggs’ young side are in desperate need of game-time at Test match level.

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“The season didn’t go the way we wanted but we do look back and see areas where we can improve and that’s important — we can improve,” Griffin continues. “It’s up to us now in the season ahead to fix a few of those wrongs.

“It’s a team game and even though the individual awards are nice, you want team performances. That was difficult because we didn’t perform to our potential, that was disappointing but it happens I suppose. What’s important is those areas of our game are fixable. There are areas of our game that need improving but we can fix them.

“You learn through play and learn through mistakes. It’s important for us to get game-time. We want to play.” 

While Griffin’s primary responsibility as captain is leading from the front on the pitch, the 28-time capped international is also cognisant of her role off the pitch in inspiring and encouraging the next generation.

Griffin was recently named Women’s Player of the Year. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Given her job as a primary school teacher in CBS Tralee, the 25-year-old is using her status as the national team captain to bring rugby to new audiences and she reports the IRFU’s ‘Give It A Try’ programme has taken off in Kerry.

“We’ve been doing it for the last six weeks and have two weeks left,” she explains. “We’ve had 45-55 girls every night at training at that’s great to see. So many young girls taking up a new sport.

“That’s what I want to see more of and summer is a great time to try a new sport and see if you enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be rugby, it can be any sport, but just get out there, especially for the summer months, it’s important kids get active.

“It’s a great way of making friends and friendships and that’s my big thing for the summer now, for kids to be out and active.

“I had role models growing up, and still do, and they gave me the time and taught me the ways. You want to give the same back, you want to see more girls and boys being active and enjoying sport. That’s a big thing for me, to lead by example in terms of a healthy lifestyle, being active and getting involved in the community.”

Entries for the 2019 Ring of Kerry close today, Monday 10 June. For more information click here.

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