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Ugwueru: The Jump From Age-Grade To Senior Rugby Is Intense

Chisom Ugwueru 7/5/2024

Chisom Ugwueru is pictured at an Ireland Under-20 Women's training camp ahead of the inaugural Six Nations Women's Summer Series ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Fresh from her hat-trick heroics in the Energia All-Ireland League Women’s Division final, winger Chisom Ugwueru spoke to Six Nations Rugby ahead of the Women’s Under-20 Summer Series, which begins this week in Parma, Italy.

How has this season gone for you? This has been my most productive and successful season to date. Winning the Energia All-Ireland League final with UL Bohs was a bonus! To be involved in Ireland’s Guinness Women’s Six Nations squad was amazing and an unbelievable experience.

What was it like scoring a hat-trick in that AIL final? It was so special. Being able to play at the Aviva Stadium alone was unbelievable, and the atmosphere was amazing. Coming out with three tries was the icing on the cake for me.

What was your highlight of the season?  Definitely the final. We lost a special member of the club a couple of weeks before the game, the focus was to do it for John Keane, and being able to do it on the day for him was so special.

Kate Flannery celebrates after the final whistle with Chisom Ugwueru 28/4/2024

UL Bohemian’s Kate Flannery celebrates after the final whistle with Chisom Ugwueru ©INPHO/Ben Brady

Tell us about your rugby background? I was a late starter to rugby, at age 16. I used to do athletics where I competed in the long jump, triple jump, and hurdles. My brothers played rugby and their team started a Women’s side, and a group of us decided to go down and I’ve never looked back. Rugby offered the team aspect that athletics lacked. It was so nice to have people to rely on.

What was the experience of training with the Ireland senior squad like? I got to go with Kate Flannery and Ivana Kiripati, two of the other U-20 girls. We thought we knew professionalism, but the level was unmatched, it was intense, but a great learning experience and all the senior girls were so helpful and supportive to us younger girls.

What are your ambitions for the Women’s Summer Series in Parma? We are so looking forward to it! After a tough training camp we’re excited to go out and play some games. It will be nice to see everything we have done in training come together in the games. The girls in camp are just amazing, and I’m so excited to get to know everyone on a deeper level and reach a new level of friendship off the field.

How do you envision the competition benefiting your development? I feel that it gives the opportunity for younger girls to play in big matches and get a taste of life as a professional rugby player, and if you are lucky enough to get into the senior squad, at least you have some experience of these environments. The jump from age-grade to senior rugby is intense, you go from playing girls the same age as you to playing women that can be 10 years older than you. Having the Women’s Summer Series helps to bridge the gap and ease you into senior rugby.

Chisom Ugwueru 29/6/2024

Chisom Ugwueru is pictured at an Ireland U-20 training session at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Blanchardstown ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

What would a successful Women’s Summer Series look like for you? Results are a bonus but not essential. If we play the rugby we want to and know we can and keep being ourselves on the pitch, that is success in my eyes.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years within rugby? Hopefully making my way to the Olympics! I would also love to mentor young girls like me who have come from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds by using rugby to help them. Hopefully, in five years, we will have triple the number of girls playing rugby!

Outside of rugby what hobbies do you have? I have just completed a beauty course and I love doing eyelash extensions. I also love to bake, sing, and dance with the girlies.

Everything you need to know about the Women’s Summer Series.