IRELAND'S teenage sensation Beibhinn Parsons is relishing a second crack at the 2020 Women's Six Nations after leaving it in drafts for eight months.
The 18-year-old lit up the tournament with tries in wins over Scotland and Wales and was cleared missed when absent for her side's 27-0 defeat to England.
Parsons missed out on final exams but got a place at University College Dublin and returns to the rugby pitch against Italy on Saturday.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of a few months to say the least, but everyone’s been in the same boat and it’s been important to stay patient,” said Parsons.
“I was gutted I couldn’t sit my exams because I would’ve loved to have wrapped it up my myself and got a result that I know I deserved, but it was the same for a lot of people and there was a good unity between me and my classmates.
“One of the big positives I’m taking is that I was going to miss out on three Six Nations matches, but now I only have to miss one. I’m part of the Ad Astra Academy at UCD, who are helping me train and keep my college work afloat.
“It’s a huge positive among these testing times to be able to play these final two games, but I’m not resting on my laurels because the squad is hugely competitive. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes and a number of protocols put in place to allow us to get to this point.
“I only have three housemates on campus - that’s my social circle and I’m keeping it that small. I feel safe in my college setup, but I am keeping my bubble to an absolute minimum because I don’t want to put myself or my team in jeopardy.”
The Ballinasloe RFC product Parsons has shot through the ranks and became the youngest-ever Ireland international against USA aged 16, winning seven caps so far.
Parsons and her teammates are vying for a return to winning ways against the Azzure, who beat them for the first time ever during the 2019 Six Nations.
Ireland have already topped their 2019 points tally and a clean sweep of home wins is on the cards as they aim to run Grand Slam champions England close.
With former skipper Claire Molloy re-joining the squad alongside Parsons, the youngster is confident of generating real momentum ahead of December’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
She added: “There was a lot of strength and conditioning and body weight exercises over lockdown, but we’ve been back for four camps now and everyone’s hit the ground running. We’re all fighting for a jersey so the competition in training is real and the tempo is high.
“Claire’s a model professional in everything she does, I love being around her and she’d be a big boost to any side. We’ve also got the likes of Eimear Considine and Sene Naoupu who I really look up to, and young players like Dorothy Wall, so I think we’re in a really good place.
“We want to get three wins in the Six Nations as soon as we can, and while we won’t run before we can walk, of course it’d be a dream to go to the World Cup - it’s the pinnacle.
“While they’re my focuses, I am also having conversations about potential involvement with the Sevens team. That might come into the equation down the line, but right now I’m happy in the 15s and looking forward to Saturday.”
Canterbury, the official kit partner to Irish Rugby, has officially launched the new Ireland Women’s Rugby Home jersey that will be worn throughout the 2020/21 season. It is a new era for Irish Rugby, and the latest technology is at the heart of the new Ireland Women’s Rugby Home jersey which can be purchased from Monday 19th October in selected Intersport Elvery’s stores nationwide, at IrishRugby.ie and at Canterbury.com. Article thanks to Peter White, Sportsbeat