Ireland wing Beibhinn Parsons did not hesitate in withdrawing from the Six Nations to focus on her studies despite her impressive start to the tournament, says head coach Adam Griggs.
The 18-year-old scored eye-catching tries in the opening two rounds, but had made herself unavailable for the latter stages to study for exams.
Parsons made the decision in December and, unluckily for Griggs and Ireland, nothing would change her mind.
“She wasn’t hesitant,” Griggs said.
“I certainly wanted her to be. She’s a very focused young individual.
“She was determined to do well in those first two weeks, box them off and then do well in her studies.”
Parsons wants to study medicine at university so needs a good performance in her Leaving Cert – the Irish equivalent of A-levels – this year.
Griggs sat down with the player and her parents, and they decided it would be best for her to play in Ireland’s first two home games before turning her attention away from rugby.
In that short time the teenager, who has seven international caps, made a name for herself in the tournament as she ran the length of the pitch to score in Ireland’s opening win against Scotland before crossing again in the victory against Wales.
Griggs’ side may have already improved on last year’s performance – when they won just one game – but Ireland missed Parsons’ attacking prowess on Sunday, failing to score in a 27-0 loss to England in Doncaster.
“With how well the first two weeks went for her and the potential she has, you wish you had her but she has other priorities and we’re fully supportive of that,” Griggs added.
Dow ‘a great shout’ for contract
Another player balancing education and international rugby is England wing and mechanical engineering student Abby Dow.
The 22-year-old is one of the tournament’s top try-scorers on four alongside France’s Laure Sansus and Cyrielle Banet, but is not one of the 28 England players on a full-time contract.
When asked if that would soon change, Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton joked she would “be a great shout” for a contract in the future given her recent form.
“Abby hasn’t got a contract for specific reasons, it’s nothing to do with her ability, it’s very much about her education and how we manage that,” he explained.
“Abby knows what the situation is and we’ve worked continually with her to support her through her degree and being full-time wouldn’t have suited.
“She’s been fantastic in terms of how she’s committed herself. We’ve got an engineer on our hands as well as an extremely good rugby player, she’s in red-hot form.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport