Claire McLaughlin

Claire Small (née McLaughlin) (born 21 November 1991) is a women's rugby union player from Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, and a qualified doctor. She plays for Ulster Rugby and the Ireland women's national rugby union team as a back row, having previously played in the centre.[1]

Claire Small (Née McLaughlin)
Birth nameClaire McLaughlin
Date of birth (1991-11-21) 21 November 1991 (age 30)
Place of birthBushmills, Northern Ireland
UniversityQueen's University Belfast
Rugby union career
Position(s) Centre, Back Row
Current team Ulster, Ireland
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
. Ballymoney
Queen's University
Old Belvedere R.F.C
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
. Ulster ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2015–  Ireland

Early life and educationEdit

Small (née McLaughlin) was born on 21 November 1991[2] and is the daughter of John McLaughlin, a beef farmer, and his wife Pamela, a teacher. She has two brothers.[3] She grew up on a farm.[3] She was educated at Coleraine High School in Coleraine, County Londonderry.[3] After this she studied medicine at Queen's University, Belfast.[3]


Following graduation, she spent her foundation year as a junior doctor at Mater Infirmorum Hospital, Belfast.[3] At the hospital, her colleagues gave her the nickname of "McSwaplin", since she often swapped shifts at the hospital to accommodate her rugby schedule.[4] Claire has been at the forefront of the NHS battle against COVID19[5] working the Ulster Hospital A&E Department throughout the pandemic.[6]

McLaughlin's introduction to rugby was through playing tag rugby at school, and she later joined Ballymoney RFC. After moving to Belfast, McLaughlin started playing for Cooke WRFC before changing to Queen's University RFC.[7] She made her debut for Ulster aged 18 while still at university.[3] She made her debut for the Ireland women's national rugby union team in 2015.[3] She was selected for Ireland's 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup squad as one of only two Ulster players selected.[4] McLaughlin was named as a substitute for Ireland's opening match against the Australia women's national rugby union team at the UCD Bowl in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.[8]

Claire is currently recovering and rehabbing from a serious ankle injury.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

McLaughlin is a Christian.[10] While playing rugby, she wears wrist tape with "AO1" on it to give thanks to God for her career.[10] McLaughlin is also a trained pianist,[11] having played the keyboard and organ in church.[3] Mclaughlin married in the summer of 2021[12] to Jonny Small and goes by the name of Claire Small (née McLaughlin)


  1. ^ O'Reilly, Peter (29 January 2017). "Hard work pays off for McLaughlin". The Times. Retrieved 9 November 2017.(subscription required)
  2. ^ "Claire McLaughlin". Irish Rugby. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Meet Belfast doctor Claire McLaughlin lining out for Irish rugby". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b "McLaughlin Has Remedy At The Ready For World Cup Fever y". IRFU. 1 August 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ "'I could never have imagined being involved in something like this'". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  6. ^ ""It maybe feels like we don't deserve all of this... It hasn't hit the surge yet" - Dr Claire McLaughlin". Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  7. ^ "Claire McLaughlin Q&A". Queen's University. 9 August 2017. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  8. ^ McKenna, Micheal (9 August 2017). "Ireland kick-off Women's Rugby World Cup in Dublin tonight". Armagh I. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  9. ^ "McLaughlin setting herself small goals". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Belfast doctor ready for Women's Rugby World Cup challenge". The Irish News. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  11. ^ Kiely, Ben (13 February 2017). "WATCH: Irish rugby star keeps airport goers entertained with one of her many talents". Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Login • Instagram". Retrieved 19 August 2021.