Ciara Griffin: ‘Retirement is something I haven’t come to lightly’

Ireland Women's captain Ciara Griffin

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Ciara Griffin’s decision to retire after the Japan match on Saturday came as a shock to many, as she will hang up her international boots after just five years with the girls in green.

Griffin is set to earn her 41st and final cap for the side she has played for since 2016, having appeared in 40 of their 42 matches since making her debut against Wales in the Six Nations that year.

Turmoil has surrounded the Irish Women’s team in recent weeks due to comments made from IRFU Director of Irish Women’s and Sevens Rugby Anthony Eddy last week.

On top of that, the Women’s game in the country has been the subject of an IRFU review after it was revealed that the conditions of facilities Interprovincial teams had to use were well below par – the full findings of that review will not be made public.

However, the 27-year-old back-rower noted that her decision was not made in the last week but that she has been thinking of retirement since the side missed out on the World Cup in September.

“It hasn’t been influenced by the last week at all,” Griffin said. “Obviously it has been a tough time for us as a group with everything.

“Something that happened to me in terms of my thinking, to be honest, was the time of the pandemic.

“It made me re-evaluate a lot of things, made us all re-evaluate a lot of things. Time at home, things at home, getting that time with your family. It made me re-assess different things.

“It’s something I haven’t come to lightly, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Obviously, after the events of Parma and the qualification process, it gave me time to reflect at home with my family.

“I thought about where I want to go next and I’ve given my life to this game. I’ve literally given everything to it so it’s time to focus on the next chapter and put my family first for a change as well. I’m going to focus on my next steps.

“I’ve been having this conversation for the last five or six weeks, to be honest. My poor husband has had the ear talked off him, he’s been giving me loads of different scenarios or what-ifs and other things but it’s the right decision for me where I am at the moment, and just thankful for everything I have been given.

“People have not so much talked me out of it, but reassured me that it is the right choice for me, the right time for me, and to be honest and throughout those conversations, it was clear to me.”

Although Adam Griggs’ team, soon to be Greg McWilliams’, missed out on World Cup qualification for next year’s tournament, Griffin will look back on her time in green fondly.

The Munster star reminisced on her career with the Ireland side, calling back to several moments in her career – from being a “nervous wreck” ahead of her Test debut to last week’s win.

She also highlighted the friends she made in the setup, noting that they didn’t only have chemistry on the pitch.

“I think I’ve had so many highlights. The friends I’ve made from the sport, they’re lifelong friends. They’re friends off the pitch.

“Even though the World Cup didn’t go our way, the experience of 2017. Getting to play in a World Cup, it was a childhood dream.

“It was one of my targets to play in a World Cup and that is something that stands out for me.

“Obviously being given the honour of captaincy was massive for me in 2018. Something I hadn’t foreseen.

“I also think the performance last week by the group after everything is definitely one of my highlights.

“In that, it just showed the resilience of this group and the connectivity and the closeness of the group.

“Just seeing the crowd back, they’re just times that really stand out to me at the moment.”

Ireland beat the United States at the RDS Arena in their first game since their disappointing qualification campaign in Italy.

The side displayed signs of unity pre-game after several key figures, past and present, publicly criticised Eddy for what he had said.

During the game, they put in possibly their best performance of the calendar year to bounce back from September’s failure.

As she nears her final stand with Ireland, Griffin stated what she wants to be remembered for when fans of the sport think of her.

“I’d like to be remembered as a person who tries to do their best for the green jersey, always puts the jersey first and their players first,” Griffin noted.

“I suppose as a person who led by example, who let my actions do the talking and always played with a smile on my face. I loved every minute in that jersey and plan to again at the weekend.

“I can finish on my own terms now, on home soil.”

Ireland welcome Japan to the RDS Arena on Saturday, November 20 at 3 pm.

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