This has been a banner season for Michelle Claffey, and after playing with Blackrock College RFC for 13 seasons, she will be 'stepping away for a bit.'
'Claff,' as she's known to many, has been a consistent presence on and off the field. Since joining Blackrock in 2010, she has been a persistent voice and spirit in recruiting and mentoring new players, and attending club fundraisers and events.
'She is a player who has set the standard in recent years,' according to her coach Jen Moore. 'She kept heart when chips were down and has been as valuable off the pitch as on it by continuing to drive the standards to ensure Rock were crowned AIL champions this season...we know that she will always be part of the club in some form. [She's] a true hero of women’s rugby.'
This season, after Claff helped lead the Women's team to an undefeated season and AIL win in December, she was given the Sue Garden Bachop Trailblazer Trophy, a new club award this season. She was also recognized outside Stradbrook, winning the Women's Division Player Of The Year at the 2023 Energia All-Ireland League Awards in May.
We asked Michelle about her memories of playing with BCRFC and her plans for the future:
What is your earliest BCRFC memory?
First training session on the top pitch. Beautiful evening!
What is your favorite BCRFC memory?
Winning the All Ireland Sevens competition and representing Ireland in the Amsterdam Sevens.
Home Game against UL Bohs, on the top pitch, 2018. We lost but brilliant game.
AIL campaign of 2022 & 2023
What are your retirement plans?
Not retiring, just stepping away for a bit :)
Which current BCRFC player are you most excited to watch develop in the future?
Eimear Corri, she is one of the most hard working players out there who has shown her adaptability in her positional change which she has grown into.
What will you miss most about the squad?
The people. All of the people who are involved in and want the Club to do well and progress.
Congratulations on a brilliant rugby career so far, Michelle. We're excited to see what you get up to next.