Full Name (plus any rugby nickname(s)): Emma Clery; “Clery” and now apparently “Ireland”
Hometown: Limerick, Ireland.
Position(s) played: Mostly centres. Dabbed around in most spots but haven’t gone any further into a scrum than back row.
All Blues since: this season!
Getting Started with Rugby
● When and how did you first start playing rugby? What got you into it?
I started playing about 9 years ago (I think!) with a local club at home Galbally. They were starting up a women's team for the first time and I used to play camogie (female equivalent of hurling which is a Gaelic game) with one of the girls that was involved and she asked me if I’d fancy it. My father used to play and both younger brothers play, so rugby was always the main sport that we’d go watch as kids.
Played then with Galwegians (“Wegians”) in Galway for 4 years in Div 1 which was brilliant and we won 2 All Ireland’s with them. Wegians nearly half-killed me on the social side of rugby but we were pretty decent when we’d get our shit together on the field!
● Did you play any sports prior to rugby?
Played camogie and gaelic football which are both gaelic games in Ireland.
● Do you have a philosophy/mindset when you practice and play rugby? If so, what is it?
Rugby is a simple game but as simple as it is there are always new things to learn and tweak about your game.
Always have the fun and craic with your teammates but when you cross the white line and there’s a job to do, focus on that and work bloody hard.
It’s always good to have a beer after a game and kickback in the clubhouse or wherever.
About your time as an All Blue
● How did you first find out about the All Blues?
Facebook and a bit of Googling of “Women’s rugby in San Francisco”!
● So far, what do you like most about being on this team?
They are an easy bunch to get out with and can take the p*ss out of each other which I’m glad to see is a universal trait of the game!
These Rookie Skits are hard work though!
Development as a player
● Is there a particular player and/or coach that has influenced your development as a player? In what way(s) did they help you?
One of our first coaches in Galbally was Pat Bourke who was old school rugby but we became great tacklers from it – gotta love a good ‘ole game of Murder Ball every night at training!
George Naoupu at Wegians was our Kiwi coach for 3 years and was brilliant. He was a pro player with Connacht at the time and brought that thinking with him and really opened up everyone’s game and thinking.
Player wise – Ruth O’Reilly of Wegians #Inspo!
● What is the best advice you have ever received about playing rugby?
Don’t mix vodka with cloudy lemon cider—ends in disaster every time! Pace yo’self!
● Ireland’s a pretty big rugby-playing nation. What was that like? (i.e. attitudes toward this sport while you were growing up, did people start playing it early, etc.)
The men’s sides of the game has always been there but has got much bigger in the last 10-15 years on a countrywide stage but Gaelic Games will still be the dominant passion for most people in Ireland.
Women’s rugby was pretty small up to about 6 or so years ago with little or no underage but it’s getting much bigger in recent times and more men’s clubs are setting up women’s sides. I would love to be 20 years younger and be able to play underage!
More about you!
● Who’s your favorite rugby player and/or team to watch? Why?
Favorite player would have always been David Wallace (flanker) and watching Munster in the good ‘ole days between 2000-2010.
Nowadays, you can’t look past New Zealand and the way they are cutting it up. Ben Smith at fullback for them is pretty class.
● What is your favorite non-rugby activity?
Gaelic Football and hill walking.
● If you were an ice cream flavor, which one would you be?
Chocolate and mint would be the fav but I’m developing a disastrous love for Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food!
● Any traditions from your old team you’d like to share?
Sunday Sess straight after a game in the clubhouse – need to find a clubhouse :)
Invariably ending up forgetting to go home!