HAVING been consigned to these shores for more than a year, Mallow’s Emily Lane is excited at the prospect of resuming her globetrotting journey as an Irish rugby star.
Previously accustomed to travelling abroad on the World Series circuit with the Ireland Sevens, the Coronavirus pandemic has kept her grounded since February 2020. However, this subsequently opened the door for Lane to re-engage with the 15s code and she has been named as one of five uncapped players in the Ireland squad for their forthcoming Women’s Six Nations campaign.
Adam Griggs’ side begin the Championship with a tricky away assignment against Wales on April 10 and Lane will be doing her utmost to secure a spot on the plane to Cardiff.
“If I am selected, Wales will be my first time outside the country since the pandemic [started]. Which will be very, very strange, but it would be an amazing opportunity. The fact that the pandemic stopped the World Series, it gave me that opportunity, and all the other girls in the Sevens, to break into the squad. I’m so grateful for that,” Lane said.
A third-year biochemistry student in UCD, Lane registered with south Dublin club Blackrock College last August.
While the continued spread of COVID-19 ensured there was only a brief window in which the domestic game could flourish, she managed to make a couple of appearances for ‘Rock during the Energia Community Series in October.
After spending so much time within the Sevens programme in recent years, Lane acknowledged it was initially difficult to re-adjust to the 15s game.
“I was definitely a bit rusty, especially playing nine. Underage I played out-half the whole time and then I moved to Ballincollig for a year when I was in UCC. I played nine with them and then once I moved up to Dublin into the Sevens set-up, I didn’t play 15s one bit.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking going back into a 15s team. I nearly forgot how to play. Even though they’re both rugby, they’re two very different sports. Different ways of playing.
“In Sevens there’s so much space and it’s all about being a well-rounded player. Whereas in 15s you need to excel in your particular position. It was a good change, though. It’s good craic.”
Lane has been amongst familiar company for the recent international training camps at the IRFU’s High-Performance Centre in Blanchardstown on the north-west side of Dublin. She is one of nine Blackrock College players to be named in the Six Nations squad, with only current AIL champions Railway Union (10) having a higher representation.
Included amongst this ‘Rock contingent is her housemate Dorothy Wall. Along with Skibbereen native Enya Breen, they have reaped the benefits of the women’s rugby pathways at both provincial and international level.
“Myself, Dorothy and Enya, we often speak about how we all kind of started our journey together. Especially myself and Enya. We both went into the Munster underage set-up at the same time and we’ve stayed friends throughout. She moved to 15s and I moved to 7s, but now we’re coming back together and our journeys are crossing paths again.
“It’s so cool to see how beneficial those underage paths are and how as a young girl, if you get onto one of those teams, having that chance to play underage for your province, it does present opportunities for you.
Although her focus over the next few weeks will be on the Six Nations, Lane remains under contract with the Ireland Sevens. They mark their long-awaited return to the World Series with back-to-back events at Marcoussis, Paris in May and Lane is hoping to make the cut for those trips.
“You’re never guaranteed a spot with either team. I’d love to be a part of it. We didn’t end last season where we wanted to be,” Lane added.
“We’ve really taken this year and this break to start developing again and to start building towards a better team and a more competitive side that are ready to hit the World Series. I’m very excited and all the girls in training are very excited to get started again.”