Friday 16 November 2018

Spence hangs up Irish boots with 'regret' following Six Nations snub

Spence enjoyed an excellent career and retires having won two Six Nations. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Spence enjoyed an excellent career and retires having won two Six Nations. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Adam Griggs has made his first big decision since being appointed as Ireland Women's coach last month as he has left Sophie Spence out of his extended Six Nations squad.

Spence's snub has seemingly resulted in the lock retiring from international rugby, as she admitted that she made the decision with 'regret'.

A World Player of the Year nominee in 2015, the lock had fallen out of favour with the previous management team.

Up to last season, Spence has been a colossus since joining the squad in 2012 but injuries didn't help in her quest to force her way back in.

Spence enjoyed an excellent career and retires having won two Six Nations, including a Grand Slam, while she was also part of the team that famously beat New Zealand at the World Cup three years ago.

Proud

"It is with regret that I am announcing my retirement," Spence said in a statement.

"I had hoped to finish my career after playing in one last Six Nations, but it is not to be.

"I have been incredibly proud to pull on the Irish jersey and to play for Ireland alongside such talented team-mates.

"The women's game is at a critical junction and I hope to see it driven forward and to receive equal level of respect and treatment of players as the men's game."

Griggs has named a 38-strong squad as preparations ramp up ahead of the Six Nations opener in France on February 3.

There are nine uncapped players included, as the likes of Connacht's Laura Feely and Leinster's Megan Williams look to make an impression.

Ireland stalwart Niamh Briggs has been named, although she is yet to return from the serious hamstring injury that has hampered her for the last year.

Claire Molloy captained Ireland at August's dismal home World Cup in Briggs' absence and the flanker provides plenty of experience along with Paula Fitzpatrick, Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu and Ashleigh Baxter.

"There is good experience in the squad, with most of the players selected competing at this level for a number of seasons," Griggs commented.

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