Sydney had always been a happy hunting ground for Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe.
She’s the all-time top try scorer there on the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, bagging four more tries on her visit to the Bankwest Stadium last February.
She is by far Ireland’s all-time top try scorer in 7s, although Eve Higgins moved up to joint second in the women’s charts alongside Stacey Flood at the same tournament.
None of the trio knew in February it would be their last chance to add to their tally for now.
But great players see challenges as opportunities and when lockdown hit, Amee-Leigh went to work.
“It actually hasn’t been the worst of years,” she tells Irish Rugby TV. “I’ve taken it by the throat and taken it for what it is.”
“I really worked on strength and speed throughout lockdown because we couldn’t train as a group or do any rugby at the time.
I took that opportunity and I was pretty pleased when I came back in to see my markers had improved fitness, strength-wise and speed-wise.”
Opportunity knocked too for Katie Fitzhenry, Hannah Tyrrell and Brittany Hogan. All three featured for Ireland 7s in Australia, but their next game for Ireland was against Italy in the Women’s Six Nations in October. For Brittany Hogan, it was her test debut at that level.
Now Murphy Crowe, Higgins and Flood are among the experienced 7s players looking to wear green in a 15s jersey.
“Being brought in is a massive opportunity,” says Amee-Leigh. “Seeing those girls being able to transition gives me the confidence that if I can learn the ropes, I’ll hopefully be up for selection throughout next year.”
“I’ve never been in the 15s set up and when I came in I was so impressed. The competitiveness, the willingness to learn in every second of training – not just every minute.
“Everyone’s giving positive feedback and constructive feedback which is always great for any type of player to improve to their game. So I was really impressed coming in here with the bite and the eagerness to learn and get better and better as players.
“You’d like to add a little flair or whatever x-factor you have in the 7s. You’d like to show what you can bring to the game. It’s a different game, but your strengths are your strengths at the end of the day and if you can bring your strengths into the 15s game, then why not?”
There will be no trip to Sydney next year but World Rugby and its partners are continuing to focus on delivering the remainder of the 2021 men’s and women’s Sevens Series. For Amee-Leigh meanwhile, it’s a que sera sera approach.
“What will be will be,” she says. “Whether it’s 15s or 7s I’m just ready to put on a green jersey. It’s been a long, long time and I’m just ready to do it.”
Ireland Women’s 15s are in camp at the IRFU High Performance Centre this weekend. Stay tuned to Irish Rugby social channels for exclusive access.