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Katie Fitzhenry talks World Cup and how she got into Rugby

Being picked for the Irish squad for this month’s World Cup must have felt amazing even though you’ve been a regular in the Irish 7s team for the past few seasons how did it all begin?

I started playing tag in Secondary School in Wexford and from there a women’s team was formed in the local club. When I was picked up by Leinster I made the difficult choice to move to an AIL Division 1 club. Blackrock was an obvious choice as it gave me the chance to play with and learn from international players each week. After a year with Blackrock I was invited to attend a Irish 7s camp and they’ve been stuck with me ever since!!

You’ve played GAA sports all your life especially Camogie, reaching underage country level, with some Football thrown in for good measure how does that compare to International Rugby?

I played Camogie growning up and still love picking up a stick every now and then. I played some underage county but once I started rugby that fizzled out a bit with no adult team close to home. When I moved to dublin I gave football a go with Thomas Davis, more so to keep fit over the summer as I hadn’t played since primary school. We won the the All-Ireland that year. I left my football career on that high!

The All Ireland final in comparison to international rugby was extremely different but at the same time quite similar if that makes sense. I think the day of All Ireland final game I had to work until 12 then left for 3 o’clock kick off in the midlands which would never happen with rugby but I believe the want from that player group was the same. Everyone knew their role, brought intensity and wanted the same things which is the same at international level.

So what made you take up rugby?

No specific reason to be honest. They had just brought it in as a 6 week module for P.E., I really enjoyed it so I said I’d give it a try.

Being selected for both the Irish 7s team and the 15 a-side squad is obviously a massive honour but how do you juggle both?

Most of it is organised for us. If 15s camp is at the weekend then we’ll have7s training Monday to Thursday with Friday off, 15’s camp at the weekend and the following Monday is recovery day. I find that the hardest part can be the amount of players on the field after being with 7s all week! It can feel like theres no space anywhere but you get used to going from one to the other becomes easier over time.

Can I even mention your social life?!

What social life!! I try to meet up with people as often as I can. It can be difficult to arrange anything in advance because you don’t know if you’ll be in the country or not with most of the 7s tournaments taking place overseas but i’m pretty lucky with the family and friends i have that they work with me on it.

Back to the World Cup, has the intensity increased since the six nations?

Yeah for sure. I think all 48 players gave everything they could over the past number of months and with the possibility of being selected for not only a World Cup but a home World Cup that really increased intensities in camp.

Home advantage must be huge boost to have, how excited are you?!! (I know obvious question!)

I’m really excited to get started. With 7s theres not as much opportunity to play in front of family and friends so I can’t wait.

What is the atmosphere like coming up to the World Cup?

Its really been great! I don’t think I expected as much! Everyone is talking about it and really excited to see the games. The amount of support has been great and i think on game day that could be a huge advantage to us. Tickets are sold out for the World Cup round robin games in UCD but they are still available for the Semi-Final and Finals in Belfast (Tuesday August 22nd and Saturday August 26th).

If you want to see Katie Fitzhenry and Jeamie Deacon performing for the Irish Women’s team you can still watch the games live on RTE against Australia (Tuesday August 9th, Japan August 13th and France August 17th.

RTE will also broadcast Ireland's knock-out and final placing matches live on RTE 2 and the RTE Player). The Final on Saturday 26 August in Kingspan Stadium, Belfast will also be live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.

Separately RTÉ has secured radio rights for the tournament from World Rugby with details to be announced at a later date.

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