Irish rugby player

Meet Michelle Claffey, a risk consultant in Advisory who plays for the Irish rugby team

Read about Michelle's life as a rugby player

Surprised faces

People are still surprised when I tell them I play inside centre position or the Irish rugby team. The look on their face is entertaining; the mix of shock and confusion. At 5’5” I don’t think I fit the mould of what they expect – but life is full of surprises, and one should never assume. Women’s rugby is so much more of an unknown, especially in comparison to the men’s. The men are so famous and recognized. When it comes to recognition, we are on opposite ends of the scale – but for effort and passion, we are very much equal! You can see this in the choices every person involved in the squad makes to be there. Some people may call them sacrifices, but for me they are my choices. We all miss events with our family, our friends – and yet, everyone would do it 100 times over to be involved.

Living a double life

We all have other commitments running in parallel. It’s almost like living a double life. For me, I am a Risk Consultant five days a week, 09:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m.; the other hours during the week, I squeeze in my training commitments, college, family, friends. The weekends are then filled with rugby. Perhaps the hardest part is going to work after playing in a game. You are in such a rugby-focused environment, where you are on the highest high and all you’re focused on is the game, the pre-game training and post-game recovery. When that's finished you have to go back to reality. Some people call it being in the bubble. The bubble bursts, the game focus is all over and you’re back to work and juggling life again. This is coupled with a few bruises, scrapes and maybe a black eye if you are very unlucky.

“At Twickenham…. we warmed up in front of a full house of 80,000 people. It was incredible.”

Michelle Claffey, risk consultant, Advisory

But it's all worth it

To step out on to that pitch and go to battle with people I trust... I am bursting with pride to be there. There are tears, but there is a focus and you realize where you are and what you are doing. For 80 minutes all eyes are on you; all those hours, days, weeks of training are being put to the test. I have got to play against and with some of the best players in the world and am fulfilling my lifelong dream of playing for Ireland. I have met the President of Ireland and played in unbelievable stadiums. Last year in November we played England at Twickenham. The game was on after the English men played Australia; we warmed up in front of a full house of 80,000 people. It was incredible. The stadium, the hum of people and the absolute buzz.

Proud to be Irish

These are the days you train for, the things that help you battle back from injury on multiple occasions. I am so lucky to represent my country doing the thing I love most, and I’ve forged lifelong memories and friendships. It is such a unique opportunity that makes me feel so proud to be Irish, to represent my country

I am so lucky to represent my country doing the thing I love most

Michelle Claffey, risk consultant, Advisory