Resilience, mental fortitude and perseverance are attributes we’ve all had to lean on more than most over the last 12 months, the ups-and-downs and peaks and troughs of a global pandemic presenting each of us with a unique set of challenges in everyday life.
For the Ireland squad, who have endured the disappointment of multiple postponements in recent times, including that of the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the togetherness and positivity of the group has come to the fore, as evidenced by the players’ enduring positivity and work-rate in the face of a series of setbacks.
While Covid-19 and the ongoing uncertainty presented by the pandemic has denied the squad the opportunity to showcase themselves on a global stage through the substance of match day and competition, Adam Griggs‘ players have continued to train collectively at the IRFU High Performance Centre and displayed unwavering commitment, resolve and a single-minded determination to achieve the goals they set out last year.
Last week’s news that the Rugby World Cup, scheduled to take place in New Zealand later this year, is to be postponed and Ireland’s qualifier against Spain, due to be played in Madrid this weekend, has also been pushed back was undoubtedly another setback for the group, who had been working hard on the training paddock to peak mentally and physically for this block.
But through adversity comes strength and once again the players have rebounded from that disappointment to reset and refocus ahead of the Women’s Six Nations, which is due to get underway early next month.
Appearing at the Talent Summit Conference last week, for which Aon – the Ireland Team Sponsor – are a Strategic Partner, Ireland internationals Aoife McDermott and Nichola Fryday spoke about resilience in work and sport, training and leadership.
“Over the last 12 months, everyone’s positivity and resilience has been tested with the ups and downs of the pandemic,” McDermott said. “For me, it’s just about controlling those controllables. There is so much uncertainty out there at the moment that if I know I can get out for a walk or talk to a family member or get my training in as scheduled, that really helps me stay positive and on track.
“All athletes learn over the course of their career that there is many highs and lows and ups and downs. We’re very adaptable and we learn to bounce back from injury or selection processes.”
Connacht second row Fryday continued on the trend, highlighting how adaptability has been key for the squad during this period.
“As a team, adaptability has been key for us. We’ve had to work towards matches that have been cancelled or we’ve had trainings re-scheduled so as a team we’ve had to respond those things in a positive manner and make sure we don’t lose focus,” she explained.
As the team continue preparations for the re-scheduled Women’s Six Nations, with Ireland’s campaign due to get underway with a trip to face Wales on the weekend of 10/11 April, the hard work of the players and management is ensuring the group are primed and ready to go as soon as they get back on the pitch.
“We’ve great strength and conditioning coaches and management who as things change they adapt our schedules and our training programme to keep us as fit and as ready as we can for whenever those matches do happen,” McDermott added.
“You’ve got a great group of girls around you to pick you back up and remind you why you’re doing it. We love playing this game, we love representing our country.”