Former Ireland internationals Jackie Shiels and Michelle Claffey have been appointed to key coaching roles with the Navan Women’s senior team.
In an exciting development for the County Meath club, Navan native Shiels returns to Balreask Old where she was first introduced to rugby. Her tenure as head coach began this week with the start of pre-season training.
Shiels and Claffey, who has come on board as Navan’s defence coach, bring huge amounts of experience having won 42 Ireland caps between them. Offaly woman Claffey only ended her international career in 2022.
Teachers by profession, the pair were at the heart of Blackrock College’s first ever Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division title win last season, with 2013 Grand Slam winner Shiels impressing in the back-line and Claffey leading by example as captain.
The newly-announced Navan Women’s coaching team also includes Adrian van de Berg as assistant coach and David Delahunt as attack coach, while the homegrown feel to the set-up continues with Nour Khairy appointed as forwards coach and Edwina Connor installed as the new team manager.
“I am very excited about re-joining the club that introduced me to the game,” admitted Shiels. “I’m aware of the strong history it has in Women’s rugby and the talent the club has produced.
“I see the strength of the current Women’s team and the underage system, and I’m keen to support these players reach their potential both in a Navan jersey and hopefully beyond.”
Navan were promoted from Division 5 in 2022 and are hoping to continue their rise up the Leinster Women’s League ranks. The progress of young players Abby Moyles, Jade Gaffney and Cara Martin shows the talent in the local area.
The Navan Women finished third in the province’s Division 4 last season, and Shiels’ charges begin their maiden Division 3 campaign away to Greystones on Sunday, September 17. They will also have a Navan J1 team competing in Division 5 this year.
Claffey, who was the Energia AIL Women’s Division Player of the Year for 2022/23, commented: “With 13 years of playing experience across the AIL, Leinster and Ireland, I am very excited about bringing my experience to the club and growing rugby in Navan RFC.
“Having previously coached in the Leinster League (with Balbriggan), I know the work-rate required by squads. With the entry of two teams into the Leinster League, it allows more players to play and enjoy the game.”