The box looked empty. After all it was almost 9 p.m., time to go home. Mary was somewhere in the middle of the rowing intervals. She trains at CrossFit Tipperary five times a week.

“The main thing I gained from CrossFit is the mental ability and confidence in my body to push through any barriers caused by fatigue during a game.”

Mary is a rugby player.

Off the field she is a secondary school physics and chemistry teacher. And of course, she’s also a coach.

“At school, I coach the boys’ underage teams, and I have also formed the girls’ team this year.”

With the success of the Irish Women’s international team, a lot of the young girls are starting to join the clubs all over the country. Mary has been a member of Clonmel Rugby Football Club since she was 16, and has served as the team captain for the past two seasons.


Mary won the Clonmel player of the year 2008/2009. Exactly 30 years after her dad won it in 1978/79.

“I suppose for most children, your sporting endeavours and interests reflect your parents at an early age. My father was a keen rugby player and had a lot of passion for the sport.”

Her first training session, dating back in 2002, began with Mary not wanting to get out of the car.

“Before joining rugby I was an extremely quiet and shy person.”


A woman from her hometown, Valerie Colville, came over to talk to her dad and the next thing she knew, Mary was out of the car and her dad was heading off.

“The first person to talk to me was Helen Hegarty or Hegs as we called her. She was very nice and welcoming but very loud. It was my first experience of meeting these girls who were just extremely friendly.”

The following Friday evening she came back. “The girls I met that first night, the Kenny sisters, Claire Walsh, Kate O’Loughlin, Helen Clare Fahy, Nicola Carey and so many wonderful people who all have become friends for life. Also, I have been fortunate to have many great coaches along the way, especially Jean Lonergan.”


Each team has 15 players on the pitch, classified as forwards and backs. The forwards do the scrums and lineouts while the backs are generally responsible for running lines, kicking the ball, etc.

Mary plays all positions in the forwards, but second row is where she has spent the majority of her rugby career.

“Every single body shape is required on your team.”

In rugby, there’s no particular pressure on a player to look a certain way, to lose or gain weight, or to be muscular. Different roles demand different attributes.

“I feel that rugby teaches a person to embrace all body shapes and definitely gives you confidence in knowing the power and skills your body is capable of.”

While in college, Mary played for three different rugby teams, training five days a week with two extra gym sessions. She also played three matches per week. After graduating at the University of Limerick she fancied a change and moved to Dubai to teach and play.

Sharjah Wanderers, rugby sevens team (same rules, 7 players only), became her new squad.

“It was a great way of meeting new people in a strange country. And we even won Dubai Rugby Sevens, a huge international competition!”


For Mary, the best thing about playing rugby is the friendships and memories you make that last a life time.

“The thing about my teammates, which even holds through for all the different teams I have played on, is that they become your best friends, your family and your support.”

Getting closer to the end of her playing career, Mary still gathers the Clonmel RFC ladies team each Friday night.

“Being able to put on my Clonmel jersey, every match, and hold my head high knowing I am a part of the great players that have worn the green and black before me and I’m proud to know I’m lining out with new young players who will carry the team through the next generation.”

Clonmel RFC’s ladies team achievements:
– Ireland Bowl
– Munster League and Munster Cup titles in the 2014/2015
– winners of the coveted Tipperary Cup


“Because of rugby I am wise!” ~ Mary Gorey, 29 yrs, Ireland

Clonmel RFC is always looking for new players. You can make contact through either the general Facebook page or the club website.

Facebook: Clonmel RFC

Clonmel RFC women’s rugby Facebook group: JOIN

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