Sophie Spence

Sophie Spence (born 26 February 1987) is a former Ireland women's rugby union international. Spence represented Ireland at the 2014 and 2017 Women's Rugby World Cups. Spence was a member of the first Ireland teams to defeat England and New Zealand. She was also a member of the Ireland teams that won the 2013 and 2015 Women's Six Nations Championships. Spence is a British Nigerian who qualified to represent Ireland through her mother, who was originally from Lisburn, County Antrim.

Sophie Spence
Date of birth (1987-02-26) 26 February 1987 (age 34)
Place of birthSouth Shields, Tyne & Wear, England
Height1.81 m (5 ft 11+12 in)
Weight87 kg (192 lb; 13 st 10 lb)
SchoolBrinkburn Comprehensive
UniversityTeesside University
Occupation(s)Teacher / Sports lecturer / Sports coach
Rugby union career
Position(s) Second Row / Back Row
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
20xx–20xx
200x–2013
2013–201x
2018–
Darlington
Darlington Mowden Park Sharks
Old Belvedere
Barbarians
()
Provincial / State sides
Years Team Apps (Points)
2011–201x
201x–201x
Irish Exiles
Leinster
()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2012–2017  Ireland 36+
National sevens team(s)
Years Team Comps
2013  Ireland
Teams coached
Years Team
2014–2016
2014–2017
2015
Mount Temple Comprehensive School[1]
Dublin City University
Leinster U18 Girls

Early years, family and educationEdit

Spence is the daughter of Myrtle Spence, who was originally from Lisburn, County Antrim. Her father was a Nigerian marine engineering student. Myrtle Spence moved to South Shields, Tyne & Wear in the early 1980s, when she was in her mid-twenties, and subsequently met and had a relationship with Sophie's father. Sophie Spence was born and raised in South Shields, where she attended Ashley Road Primary School and Brinkburn Comprehensive.[2][3] As a child she regularly spent holidays with her mother's family in Belfast.[4][5] In her youth, Spence initially played netball.[6][5] Between 2005 and 2010 she attended Teesside University, where she gained a BASc in sports and exercise coaching science, a master's degree in sport psychology and a PGCE.[1][7]

Playing careerEdit

ClubsEdit

Spence began playing women's rugby union while at Teesside University. She played with Darlington before joining Darlington Mowden Park Sharks who played in the Women's Premiership. Her teammates at Sharks included the England international captain, Katy McLean.[3][7][8][9] Spence subsequently made her debut for both Ireland and the Ireland Sevens while a Sharks player.[10][11] In 2013, after moving to Dublin to further her Ireland career, Spence began playing for Old Belvedere.[6][8][12][13]

Provincial levelEdit

In August 2011 Spence tried out for the Irish Exiles.[4][7][8][10][14] Spence has also played for Leinster in the IRFU Women's Interprovincial Series.[6][12][15][16] In addition to playing for Leinster, Spence has worked for Leinster Rugby in various coaching and community development roles.[2][1]

BarbariansEdit

In March 2018 Spence played for the Barbarians against a British Army XV.[17][18]

Ireland internationalEdit

Between 2012 and 2017 Spence played for Ireland.[19][20][21] After Spence attended an Irish Exiles trials in August 2011, Philip Doyle decided to fast track her into the Ireland team. Doyle recognised her potential and was keen to claim her for Ireland before England came calling.[4][7][8][14] She subsequently made her debut for Ireland on 3 February 2012 against Wales. The match was abandoned at half-time because of a frozen pitch.[22][23][24] Spence went on to represent Ireland at the 2014 and 2017 Women's Rugby World Cups. Spence was a member of the first Ireland teams to defeat England [25] and New Zealand.[26][27][28] She was also a member of the Ireland teams that won the 2013 and 2015 Women's Six Nations Championships. In 2015 she was a nominee for the IRB Women's Player of the Year, the RTÉ Sports Person of the Year and was named the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women's Player of the Year.[5][1][13][29][30][31] Spence retired as an Ireland international after failing to make the squad for the 2018 Women's Six Nations Championship.[9][32][33]

Spence played for the Ireland women's national rugby sevens team in the 2013 European Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series.[11]

EmploymentEdit

Spence has worked in various teaching, coaching and development roles. Between 2010 and 2013 she worked at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, where she managed the netball academy.[1][3] After moving to Dublin, Spence worked for Leinster Rugby in various coaching and community development roles.[1][2] Between 2014 and 2017 she worked as a rugby union development officer with Dublin City University.[2][4][31][34] She also worked as a brand ambassador for both Nissan[29] and the Bank of Ireland.[6][9] In April 2016 she launched the Sophie Spence Rugby Academy.[1][8][6][5][35]

HonoursEdit

Rugby unionEdit

Ireland
Leinster
Ireland Sevens
Individual
  • Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Women's Player of the Year Award
    • 2015

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Sophie Spence". ie.linkedin.com. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Game-changer with clear vision for rugby's future". www.independent.ie. 24 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Trying time for rugby showdown friends". www.shieldsgazette.com. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d "Finding Sophie Spence one of coach Doyle's greatest coups". www.irishtimes.com. 16 August 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Sophie Spence eagerly, nervelessly embracing countdown to World Cup". www.the42.ie. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Our Leinster Girls in Green: Sophie Spence". www.leinsterrugby.ie. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d "Rugby ace to make World Cup debut six years after playing for Teesside University". www.gazettelive.co.uk. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e "'I left my job and my home. I dropped everything to move over here but it's a risk that has paid off'". www.the42.ie. 30 April 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "For the love and the honour of the green jersey". bankofireland.com. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Irish women unchanged for France". www.irishtimes.com. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Plate Success For Ireland Women In Brive". www.irishrugby.ie. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Preview: 2017 Women's Interprovincial Series". www.leinsterrugby.ie. 29 November 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Sophie Spence". www.irishrugby.ie. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Spence in a good place as Ireland prepare for Kiwi test at World Cup". www.the42.ie. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Leinster star Spence is Scrumqueens Player of 2015". www.independent.ie. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Leinster v Connacht - Women's Interprovincial Photos". www.sportsfile.com. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Irish Quartet Selected For Barbarians Women's Clash With Army". www.irishrugby.ie. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Defeat For British Army Women In Historic Barbarians Clash". www.forces.net. 19 March 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Sophie Spence retires from international rugby". www.irishtimes.com. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Out-of-favour Spence announces Ireland retirement 'with regret'". www.rte.ie. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Two-time Six Nations winner Sophie Spence retires from international rugby". www.independent.ie. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Neville eyeing Welsh revenge". www.sixnationsrugby.com. 1 February 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Women's Six Nations: Ireland vs Wales abandoned at half-time". scrumhalfconnection.com. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  24. ^ "Spence in dreamland after rapid rise". www.sixnationsrugby.com. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Miller hat-trick hands Ireland historic win over England". www.sixnationsrugby.com. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Black Ferns lose historic match to Ireland". www.allblacks.com. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  27. ^ "Women's Rugby World Cup 2014: Ireland stun four-time champions New Zealand". www.telegraph.co.uk. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Irish women's rugby team record historic win over New Zealand". www.independent.ie. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  29. ^ a b "'We're training to be world champions' - Ireland lock Spence". www.the42.ie. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  30. ^ "Spence just one of the match-winning 'impact subs' that delivered victory for Ireland". www.the42.ie. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Sophie Spence nominated for RTE Sports Person of the Year 2015". www.dcu.ie. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  32. ^ "Sophie Spence announces retirement from international rugby after omission from Six Nations squad". www.the42.ie. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  33. ^ "'You don't expect that call. I just said 'thank you' as it's very difficult to process it on the phone'". www.the42.ie. 30 January 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  34. ^ "Spence leading the next wave of DCU's rugby tide". www.thecollegeview.com. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  35. ^ "Health is wealth for talismanic Sophie Spence". www.irishexaminer.com. 16 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2018.