Nichola Fryday, Irish women’s rugby captain, announced her retirement from the international game on Friday.
After first appearing for her country against Canada in 2016, Offaly woman Fryday went on to win 34 Ireland caps during her playing career.
The 28-year-old second row was named captain of Ireland’s women’s side prior to the 2022 Six Nations.
In a statement published on the IRFU website and her personal Instagram account, Fryday spoke of the many “highs and lows” that marked her international career.
She addressed her disappointment at her side’s performances during the 2023 Six Nations, in which the side finished last with five losses, but noted that the tournament allowed her, along with her team-mates, to learn “the true definition of grit and hearts in the midst of adversity”.
“If back in 2015 you had told me when I first picked up a rugby ball in Tullamore RFC I would one day represent my country 34 times and captain the team for two seasons I wouldn’t have believed you.
“The beauty of women’s rugby is the endless possibilities and the huge growth still to be made in the sport for any girl or woman that decides to pick up a ball in their local club like I did.”
Fryday thanked the many players she shared a pitch with while wearing the green jersey. “Some of my closest and dearest friends have been made on the pitch, always picking each other up on the hard days when giving up seemed like the easier choice.”
She also paid tribute to her family, and the support they gave her throughout her international career.
“My time representing my country will be memories I cherish for the rest of my life. To all of the supporters over the years thank you for always believing. I have no doubt over the next few years this team will grow to be a force to be reckoned with and I look forward to joining you in the stand and supporting them,” Fryday added.
Fryday will continue to play rugby with her club, Exeter Chiefs.
Gillian McDarby, head of women’s performance and Pathways with the IRFU, said the union understood and respected the captain’s decision.
“She has left an indelible mark on the game in Ireland and wish her well for the next chapter in her career.”