Thanks to Natalie Bryant the FRU caught up with Eliza Downey, Ulster’s second representative in the Irish Women’s World Cup Squad.
Eliza only started playing rugby a couple of seasons ago and in that short time she has play over twenty games for Cooke RFC, picked up six Ulster Caps and this season has made her first Irish appearances against Italy and Scotland in the Six Nations.
Receiving my first cap for Ireland will be a moment in my life that I will always remember, the lead up to my first 6 Nations game was an amazing experience that I got to share with my friends and family that travelled down to support me.
It’s an absolute dream come true to get a call up to represent my country, but I’m also aware that I am on a steep learning curve and hope the experience as a whole will enhance me as a player.
On the back of some outstanding displays for Cooke and Ulster, Eliza has forced her way into the Irish Women’s World Cup Squad and has taken some time out to bring us up to date on her rapid rise to the International Arena:
When and why you started playing rugby?
Sport has always been a huge part of my life having played Ladies Gaelic Football for over 14 years but previously I had only ever enjoyed watching rugby on TV! During my first year of Uni I helped out a class mate who was low in numbers for her 7 aside rugby game. Despite having never played before I really enjoyed it, but due to other sporting commitments I never pursued it until my final semester were I represented UUJ in various games and played in the Carrick 10s.
Now, having played two seasons with Cooke and Ulster and a season with Ireland in the 6 Nations, I have been lucky enough to train and compete with some of the most experienced players in the country, which has definitely encouraged me to keep sharpening my skills and pushing myself.
Most memorable match that you have played in and why was it memorable?
My first cap for Ulster against Munster in 2008, as a relevant new comer to the game I was feeling pretty nervous which was enhanced by the fact that I was moved into full back from the wing (a position I had never played before) 15 mins into the game due to an injury to one of our players. As the game went on I gradually grew in confidence and ran in a try in the 2nd half. In the end we lost by 3 pts but the adrenaline rush and buzz during that game was second to none and left me very much looking forward to our next game.
Least memorable match. Do you have a match that you’d like to forget?
Ugh! Galwegians this season, well from start to finish this game was horrid. While warming up it had started to snow, we were then playing on a slanted pitch which any advanced downhill skier would have found challenging and to top things off I was half way through a course of antibiotics for a chest infection that wouldn’t clear up! But I insisted I would be fine to play, a few runs into the game willing myself from side to side to sweep whilst breathing like Darth Vadar I realised this wouldn’t be one of my finer moments in a Cooke jersey, numerous mistakes later, losing and a 5 hr drive home this would definitely be a game I choose to forget!
Toughest opponent? Who and why?
UL Bohs may seem an obvious choice as the top club team in Ireland at the moment but you can’t look past the strength they have in their pack, speed in their backline and depth they can call upon from the bench. After close encounters with them this season though it’s a challenge myself and my team mates are looking forward to in the season ahead.
Worst roommate? Any amusing story about rooming with anyone when away with Ireland?
I can’t say she’s the worst roommate but my ‘P25’ amigo Caro Mahon is a stickler for time keeping! Every minute of the 10 minutes before we have to leave the room to attend training or meetings she will throw out little sayings like, “Right what do you need to get ready Elijah?”, “I’m ready, how you getting on?” “I’m leaving now”! I do my best to stay on the right side of her, her angry face is a ringer for Worf outta Star Trek!
Longest in the changing room? Who out of all you team mates takes longest getting ready after a game?
Although I may come under scrutiny myself for getting ready in a relaxed manner after games/training I always put it down to the extreme exhaustion due to giving my all out on the pitch, considering the reasoning behind this I have often wondered why Lauren Day is in and out of the changing room in 5 mins after games hmmm lol 🙂
The IRB Women’s World Cup takes place in Surrey, kicking off on Friday 20th August 2010 and finishing on Sunday 5th September with finals matches at The Stoop, Twickenham.
Ireland are in a tough group with England, USA and Kazakhstan. Their Pool Fixtures are as follows.
- Friday 20th August, 18:30 – England v Ireland
- Tuesday 24th August, 16:30 – USA v Ireland
- Saturday 28th August, 16:30 – Ireland v Kazakhstan