Name: Lauren Delany

Sport: Rugby, Gaelic football, Basketball (*This piece was written before Lauren made the Irish Women’s Rugby team) 

Your sport and why you chose it?  How long have you been playing it for?

  • I’ve played basketball for 15 years and got into it when starting secondary school. I’m in my second season of playing Gaelic football and started as a way to make friends in a new city as well as having a sport to do during the summer months or offseason from rugby. I’m heading into my 4th year playing rugby and like with Gaelic football, I started it as a way to meet people in a new city but also because I loved to watch the sport and knew of a lot of basketball players that converted and did very well.I also go to the gym regularly and do yoga. As I work in professional sport, spending time in the gym is a given.

What was the first sport you took part in and when? What do you think is behind your progression from that point to now playing premier league rugby?

  • The first sport I took part in was probably through PE class in primary school. I remember playing Gaelic football competitively for my school but broke my collar bone in 5th class playing with the lads and couldn’t play a sport for the rest of primary school. I’ve always been really competitive since a young age and loved playing outside with friends and then in team based sports. I love testing myself physically and mentally to try and get the best out of myself. I’ve moved house 6 times in the last 5 years to multiple cities so sport has been a great way to make friends in new places and rugby was always a sport I wanted to try. I think 15 years of basketball definitely helped in my quick progression with rugby and working in elite sport also motivates me to achieve more as I’m always surrounded by world class athletes.

What is your greatest sporting achievement?

  • My greatest basketball sporting achievement is probably representing my country at the under 16 European Championships in Estonia. In rugby, my greatest achievement is winning the national county championship with Lancashire last year in London.

What is your current sporting goal and how do you plan to go about getting it?

  • I am currently in preseason leading up to the new women’s Premiership in England. My goal is to develop as an athlete and be competitive in this league, hopefully with the aim of making the Irish 15s team in the near future. I still play Gaelic football as I think it adds great fitness and skills to my rugby game and the season is opposite to rugby so keeps my fitness up.

Aside from your sporting achievements and athletic ability, do you think there are any attributes you have acquired over the years that benefit you in your life outside of sport?

  • Sport has taught me how to work as a team, how to work hard in order to gain success, how to manage my time, how to communicate effectively with different people, how to deal with loss/being unsuccessful, how to deal with stressful situations under pressure, how to bounce back from disappointment and how to always strive for more. Sport has also taught me that life’s not fair, but it’s not fair for everyone!

How do you find juggling work and playing at such a competitive level? Is there anything you struggle with most?

  • Every week is different. As I have played competitive sport since a young age I have developed good strategies for being time efficient, eating quickly and being organised. There are always weeks where I struggle, especially when work is really busy or I have been busy for the whole weekend with friends/family and I’m not organised for the week ahead. Sport is my way to unwind after a hard day so I really try my best to make every session no matter what.The thing I probably struggle with the most is keeping up with all the washing haha!

Have you had to sacrifice a lot to be where you are? Is there anything you would change? 

  • I think I have a good balance of work, sport and social life. I have sacrificed some holidays and nights out and time with friends/family for training and playing but luckily most of my friends play sport so they’re either there playing with me or they understand the commitment needed. As I’ve played sport since a young age my family always understand and are supportive.I’m a firm believer though that sport is my own choice and being committed to a group of people with a common goal means you have to live with the sacrifices.

In your opinion, what does it mean to be part of a team?  

  • I love team sports and I’ve always been known as a ‘team player’ whether in sport, work or life. A group of people coming together to achieve a common goal is a powerful thing and everyone should feel this once in their life. A team becomes a family. ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’

What’s your advice to the younger Lauren?

  • Enjoy the journey. Rehab your ankles properly when you injure them first time and pick up rugby at a younger age, it’s an epic sport!

What’s your advice to someone who has never played a sport before and is considering, picking one up?

  • My advice would be to try a local team sport, there’s always loads of teams open to newbies. Rugby is a great sport for people of all abilities and body types so don’t be put off by the contact, grab a friend and give it a go. If contact isn’t your scene then give tough or tag rugby a go as these are really socialable and there are loads of mixed teams. Team sports are the best way I know to make friends, especially in a new area, they’re great fun and good motivation to go training instead of relying on your own willpower to train on your own.

If there is anything you would like to add, please share below. 

  • Sport has the power to change the world. It can improve our health, teach us all the discipline needed to achieve success in life and bring us together as a community to support a common goal. Be part of it and you won’t regret it!

Photo credit: IRFU