Ballinasloe's Beibhinn relishes life in rugby's fast lane

Pictured above: Beibhinn Parsons in action for Ireland against Wales. Photo: INPHO/ IRFU.

Life has certainly been hectic for Ballinasloe's Beibhinn Parsons since her last appearance for the Ireland women’s team back in early February.

Following her scintillating try against Wales in a Six Nations triumph at Energia Park – her third touchdown in just three Championship starts – the teenage sensation stepped away from the squad to concentrate on her impending Leaving Certificate examinations.

Within a matter of weeks, however, schools across the country were closed indefinitely in a bid to combat the Coronavirus pandemic and Ireland’s Six Nations campaign was also placed on hold.

Like the remainder of second level students, Parsons never got to sit in an exam hall and instead had to rely on calculated grades to determine her path into college life.

“I absolutely wanted to sit the exams,” she told the IRFU website (https://www.irishrugby.ie) in a video call.

“I was gutted that I couldn’t have. I’d loved to have wrapped it up, put a bit of closure on it and get a result that you know you’d deserved. I would have loved to sit the exams.”

Currently studying Biomedical, Health & Life Sciences in UCD, the Galwegian is presently based on campus. Similar to the Ireland squad’s get-togethers and training camps, this requires extra caution on her part, but she is managing just fine so far.

“I’m doing a science subject, so there’ll be labs but all the protocols are in place. I’m feeling safe in my college set-up,” she said.

“Keeping my bubble to an absolute minimum because I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy or any of my team either. Just three house-mates and that’s my social circuit.”

With just some internal games with Ireland and her new club Blackrock College under her belt, Beibhinn could be forgiven for lacking match sharpness ahead of this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy in Donnybrook (kick-off 6.30pm).

Nevertheless, having kept well on top of her fitness levels during lockdown, the 18-year-old Connacht winger will not be found wanting if selected.

“We worked really closely with our strength and conditioning coach (Orlaith Curran) through Zoom and phone calls. For girls who didn’t have weights, we used body weight exercises. Our strength and conditioning didn’t stop at all and lots of us used the time to treat niggles and injuries... and come back stronger and fitter.

“Actually a positive in that sense. The competitive edge is still there. Not worried at all because we’re all competing for jerseys. We’ve hit the ground running and are really excited to play Italy.”

Since making her debut as a 16-year-old against the USA in November 2018 – becoming the youngest ever player to earn a senior Ireland cap in the process – Parsons has generally looked unfazed by any challenge that is placed in front of her.

Still, the former Ardscoil Mhuire student often looks on in awe at the company she finds herself in during these international windows.

She is full of praise for the likes of Eimear Considine (“she’s just a super human”), Sene Naoupu and Dorothy Wall.

An already strong Galway representation within the Ireland squad has been bolstered by the return of Claire Molloy to the Ireland fold.

Parsons added: “There’s a strong Galway contingent in the team and I’m a proud Galway girl and proud Ballinasloe girl. Claire’s a professional in everything she does. Ticks every box before training. Warm-up, conditioning. A full well-rounded player.”

Parsons was speaking at Canterbury’s launch of the new Ireland women’s rugby home jersey.

*This is an edited version of an article on the IRFU website - https://www.irishrugby.ie/

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