The History of Women’s Rugby in Ireland

women's rugby in ireland

the highest levels of international competition. However, Ireland’s women’s rugby scene has a much less well-known past. In this article, we will delve into the history of women’s rugby in Ireland, from its early beginnings to the present day.

The First Record of Women Playing Rugby

The exact origins of women’s rugby are somewhat vague, but there is evidence that women began playing rugby in Ireland as early as 1884. Emily Valentine, a student at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, played on the school’s first rugby team, making her the first official female rugby player on record.


Women’s rugby remained a relatively underground movement in Ireland for many years as social pressures and norms prevented women from openly participating. However, in 1917, the first official charity match featuring female rugby teams was held at Cardiff Arms Park in Wales, featuring the Cardiff Ladies and Newport Ladies teams.

Women’s Rugby in the Post-War Era

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that women’s rugby began to take root in Ireland. The changing roles of women in society, combined with increased acceptance of women participating in sports, led to a surge in interest in women’s rugby.

In 1962, the first recorded women’s rugby union team was formed at Edinburgh University. The first fully documented women’s club match took place at Toulouse Femina Sports in France. From there, the popularity of women’s rugby began to grow, with more and more teams forming across Europe and beyond.

Present Day Women’s Rugby

Today, women’s rugby is a thriving sport in Ireland, with thousands of players across the country. The Women’s Rugby World Cup, first held in 1991, is held every four years and features some of the best female rugby players from around the world. The Six Nations, which includes Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy, is another major tournament that draws large crowds and generates significant media attention.

The increased publicity and popularity of women’s rugby has helped to raise the sport’s profile and encourage more women to take up the game. The inclusion of rugby in the 2016 Rio Olympics, with both male and female competitions, was a major milestone for the sport and is likely to lead to further growth and development in the years to come.

County Carlow Football Club – Rugby Club In County Carlow, Ireland

At County Carlow Football Club, we pride ourselves on our rich history as one of Ireland’s oldest rugby clubs. Established in 1873, we started as a “Football Club” before the Rugby Football Union was even formed. Today, we offer rugby for both men and women, with a focus on volunteerism and equal play for all.

Join our Women’s Rugby Club in Ireland

We are currently rebuilding our women’s team and are actively seeking players of all skill levels to join us on the pitch. Our women’s team has achieved significant success over the years, including winning the Leinster League Division 4 championship in 2011/2012 and the Leinster League Division 2 championship in 2012/2013. In recognition of our achievements, we were named Leinster Rugby Women’s Club of the Year in 2013 and were promoted to AIL Division 2 the same year. If you’re looking for a welcoming and supportive community of rugby players, consider joining the County Carlow Women’s Rugby Club. Contact us today to get involved!


The History of Women’s Rugby in Ireland

women's rugby in ireland

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