Molly Scuffil-McCabe happy to put vet career on long finger for shot at pro rugby

SIGNING UP FOR life as a professional athlete is the stuff of dreams for most sportspeople but when the IRFU came forward last year with their first pro contracts for women’s 15s rugby players in Ireland, it led to some difficult decisions.

For a start, the money wouldn’t be lifechanging for those already working steady jobs, the deals ranging in value from €15,000-€30,000. It also meant players living outside of Dublin would have to uproot in order to be based at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Abbotstown – a particularly big call for those working and playing in the UK.

Then there was the fact that stepping into a new full-time career as a pro athlete might require stepping away from another one, as was the case for Molly Scuffil-McCabe.

The Ireland fullback played in her first Six Nations last year, juggling the demands of being part of an international Test team with an equally demanding day job.

“I was a receptionist in a vet clinic,” Scuffil-McCabe explains. “So I typically worked 11-7, roughly, five days a week. Full on!”

The 25-year-old was one of the 29 who signed up to an IRFU contract last autumn but admits it wasn’t a straight-forward decision.


molly scuffil-mccabe happy to put vet career on long finger for shot at pro rugby

Molly Scuffil-McCabe speaking to the media in Abbotstown earlier this week.

“It’s not easy I suppose, because my ultimate aim is to go and become a veterinary surgeon. So for me, I suppose it was just deciding what was right for me at the time.

“And I ultimately do want to go back and aim to become a veterinary surgeon. But that’s something that’s on the long finger now to be honest, because this opportunity came up and I mean you’re only young for a while, you know, you won’t get this opportunity to play rugby when you’re 50 or 60.

“I can still practice as a vet, hopefully, when I’m 50 or 60. So this is the priority for me now.”

The Railway Union player – who can also play on the wing – made her Ireland debut in the Six Nations defeat to England last year, featuring twice in the championship and also playing both games of the summer tour to Japan.

This year she’s keen to kick on again as prepare for the 2023 Six Nations, which kicks-off this weekend, explaining that she’s already feeling the benefits of the move to full-time training.

It makes a huge difference. I worked full-time last year during the Six Nations and then the Japan Tour and working full-time, my employer was very understanding.

“But it’s tough, you’re coming out here and trying to be high performance in here, but then you’re racing away to go and do other bits and bobs.

“I mean the girls who are still doing that are doing a phenomenal job, but it is tough, so having the ability to be able to be professional and come in and this is your job and this is what you’re doing. It just makes all the difference.”

First up for Ireland is a trip to play Wales on Saturday. Greg McWilliams is missing a string of key players due to their commitments with the Ireland Sevens, so is working with a relatively young squad, which includes eight uncapped players.

“We’re building together,” Scuffil-McCabe adds.

“There’s still a lot of players who are in the squad now from Japan, and there are some new faces, which is excellent.

“I think a lot of gelling was done in Japan as a squad, to be able to welcome those new people in. I think the Sevens girls are on their own journey and they have obviously the aim of (Olympic) qualification, that’s what they’re up to at the moment, that’s their focus.

“Our focus is to get on with this and try and aim top three. And I mean they’re excellent players, there’s no doubt about it. But we have excellent players as well.”

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