This much I know: Fiona Coghlan, Women’s Rugby World Cup ambassador

Fiona Coghlan

Fiona Coghlan says that she eats really healthy food but she does fall off the wagon more often now.

I believe that energy breeds energy.

I have always had a competitive nature. I always want to be the best I can be. That drive is innate in me, and sports really brought it out in me.

I was always into sports, but I never played rugby as a child. I got involved with tennis from a young age and I absolutely loved horse riding, that was my big thing. 

My parents used to drive me miles so that I could do it, they’d leave me there all day and pick me up again late in the evening. Maybe it was a form of cheap baby sitting!

I grew up in Clontarf. When I left school I studied at the University of Limerick and I work as PE teacher in Lucan in Dublin. I also teach Maths. 

I enjoy teaching but it can be tough to get the best out of your students, I can see the potential in them but of course I have to rely on them to do the work themselves.

I began playing rugby in college in UL. I didn’t enjoy the training at all to begin with, but from my first game, I was hooked. I wasn’t the fastest but I was strong and pig headed. I felt it suited my skill set. 

People always ask me if we were treated in a stereotypical way as ‘women’ players but I can honestly say we were treated the same as the men, fully respected.

I played on the national team for 11 years which was a huge commitment. I retired from rugby after the 2014 World Cup. Walking away was really tough but I’m back paying GAA for Clontarf now, training three times a week. 

I eat really healthy food but I do fall off the wagon more often now. I value the sense of connection and of being part of a community that sports gives me.

I don’t think society values women in sport as much as it should. There is a lot of talk and conversation about it, but things have not progressed as much as they should have done.

Things are better, of course: The standard of athleticism has gone up. The media coverage is better. But it still is not enough.

I am a stickler for high standards.

My main fault is sometimes having a lack of empathy, although I think I have improved in this regard. It stems from expecting a high standard from myself and then expecting the same from others, but I realise that life is not always that simple.

The trait I admire most in others is honesty.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day, I’d like to be Mary McAleese. I love the way she speaks with such clarity.

Whether or not there is an after life is not something to which I have given a huge amount of thought.

The best advice I ever received is never to ask anyone to do something which you are not prepared to do yourself.

My idea of misery is a job with a huge amount of paper work.

I’m currently single and happy with that.

If I could change one thing on the school curriculum, I’d include a healthy living and wellbeing programme. The more emphasis we can put on that the better.

I don’t tend to get stressed at work or even around sport. It’s not that I’m totally laid back — I certainly let my opinion be known — but I just tend to get on with things. However I do worry when we don’t have enough time to train or to prepare for things.

I’m both a lark and an owl. I’m up at the crack of dawn for early morning gym sessions and then I can also be the last to bed. Maybe it’s FOMO.

When I’m not working, I spend my time playing sports or being involved with sports on some level. Other than that I socialise with my friends, doing very normal things like going to the cinema and the pub.

So far life has taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with great people.

Former Irish rugby international and current Women’s Rugby World Cup ambassador Fiona Coghlan was speaking at the launch of the Liberty Insurance #SupportHerSport conference.


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