Ireland captain Nichola Fryday has today announced her retirement from international rugby.
First capped against Canada in 2016, she has represented her country 34 times and was appointed captain ahead of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Nichola made the following announcement today:
“The 2023 Six Nations may not have been the tournament I had hoped to end my international career on, but one thing I learned with that phenomenal group of players was the true definition of grit and heart in the midst of adversity.
“My time representing my country has been full of highs and lows personally and as a collective. If back in 2015 you had told me when I first picked up a rugby ball in Tullamore RFC I would one day represent my country 34 times and captain the team for two seasons I wouldn’t have believed you.
“The beauty of women’s rugby is the endless possibilities and the huge growth still to be made in the sport for any girl or woman that decides to pick up a ball in their local club like I did.
“But at some stage it comes to a natural end and that time is now for me, as I look to develop my career off the pitch while continuing to play club rugby with Exeter. There are endless thank yous that I need to make to people that supported me and made me a better player and person over the years.
Tullamore RFC instilled the love for rugby in me through the people there and the club.
“Playing for Connacht was my first aspiration and the coaches I had over the years there pushed me to be a better player and showed me I could be a leader.
“To the Ireland coaches and staff I’ve worked with, thank you for always believing in me and pushing me to be a better player.
“To every player I’ve been luckily enough to take the pitch with in the green jersey, thank you for always pushing for more on and off the pitch.
“Some of my closest and dearest friends have been made on the pitch, always picking each other up on the hard days when giving up seemed like the easier choice. You’ll always be people I call my family.
“And to my family, there aren’t enough words to thank you for your support all these years. Without my parents I would never have made it as far as I did and for as long. No ask was ever too much when it came to allowing me to pursue my dream of playing for my country.
“To the rest of my family, thank you for always making me feel like I could keep going on the tough days and being training partners/sounding boards/welcome distractions at the end of hard days. Your smiles and embraces at the end of every game and unwavering support meant the world to me.
“My time representing my country will be memories I cherish for the rest of my life. To all of the supporters over the years thank you for always believing.
“I have no doubt over the next few years this team will grow to be a force to be reckoned with, and I look forward to joining you in the stand and supporting them. I look forward to next season with Exeter Chiefs as we regroup and go again.”
Gillian McDarby, IRFU Head of Women’s Performance & Pathways, said: “Nichola has been an excellent leader and player for the Ireland team over the last number of years and we thank her for her incredible service to Irish Rugby.
“We understand and respect her decision to step away at this point in her career and appreciate all her efforts in green.
“Nichola has left an indelible mark on the game in Ireland, and we wish her well for the next chapter in her career.”