“She has nerves of steel, this girl, but she didn’t doubt her for a second”
ENYA BREEN SAID her unyielding kick to secure the Irish women’s rugby team a dramatic 15-14 triumph over Scotland in their closing Six Nations Championship match at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday night was to “stay in the moment”.
Making his second consecutive start inside the center – after appearing off the bench in the first three rounds – Breen booked a long spell of attacking pressure from Ireland in the latter stages of the competition with a time trial d ‘stop.
That left them a single point behind, but the ensuing conversion presented the hosts with a glorious opportunity to snatch a victory under Scotland’s noses. Hannah O’Connor’s superbly executed opening penalty made her a viable candidate for that bonus strike, but it was left to Breen to be the winner of the Irish game.
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“It was just about trusting the process, staying in the moment. I knew there was pressure, but I didn’t want it to get to me. I know I had a blow kicked from a similar position in the first half and just shot it right, so I just aimed it a bit more to the left,” Breen explained following Saturday’s game.
“I trusted myself, that’s all I could really do. Me and Hannah had a little chat beforehand, but I backed each other up to do it and that was it, to be honest. We hammered the line for the last 10 minutes or so. We had our opportunities and luckily it came to me [to score a try] at the end. Linda [Djougang] gave me the ball and I just backed myself up to take it.
First introduced to the team by Adam Griggs in November 2018 aged 19 – she made her debut against France the following March when still a teenager – Breen now has 14 international caps to her name. asset. Injuries have slowed her progress to some extent, but she now feels ready to carry on with the experience of the last few years behind her.
“Listen, I’ve been lucky enough to have been around some great leaders over the past few years and I think I’ve taken a piece of each of them. I’ve been involved for a couple good seasons now, I think I’m learning from that. more every season Some of what you would consider young players have been around for a few years.
“We are ready to intervene now. Someone has to take on these leadership roles. We took responsibility for ourselves, the coaching staff can’t do much. These few seasons have been interesting, but I have learned a lot.
Considering how his late intervention completely changed the mood within the Irish camp following their clash with Scotland, Irish skipper Nichola Fryday unsurprisingly praised Skibbereen’s Breen.
“She has nerves of steel, this girl, but she didn’t doubt her for a second. She said ‘Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll take that.’ This is what you want. You want these players to rise in those times. We were halfway back and I said, ‘Girls, whatever happens, this is a really proud performance for us.’ Then Enya just inserted it and that was the icing on the cake.
Saturday marked the end of a Six Nations campaign that had as many talking points off the pitch as on the pitch. One such topic that was discussed at length was the possibility of the IRFU handing out contracts to Irish 15-year-old players.
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Fryday hopes an open dialogue with the union can lead to a radical change in the game on these shores, but warned that copying the professional model employed by England is not as simple as it seems.
“For each union, I think the contracts are very different because what works for England wouldn’t necessarily work for us. I think it’s about us as players working with IRFU to find a model that really works for us,” Fryday added.
“That we make the most of it because for some girls it’s not going to be sustainable for them. They’ve established careers. I think it’s about having an honest conversation with IRFU about what’s going to work for us and what will allow us to continue and really develop as a team.
When asked if such talks were happening right now, Fryday replied:
“Not currently. Our goal was just to be part of this campaign. After the Six Nations, maybe we’ll start.