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Former Nashoba Regional star Devin Doyle enjoying rugby journey – News – telegram.com

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LANCASTER — Devin Doyle applied to two colleges, and was accepted to both, prior to graduating from Nashoba Regional in 2012.

She elected to attend UMass Lowell over Purdue due to its proximity to home and her perceived lack of adventurism.

Three semesters later, Doyle dropped out and moved to California and then Colorado. Along the way she became a five-time national champion in a sport she had never played until three years ago.

“So definitely not the track I thought I was going to take,” Doyle, 25, recently said with a smile.

The second oldest in an athletic family of four, Doyle played all manner of sports growing up. There was soccer and softball, basketball and volleyball, alpine and Nordic skiing.

Doyle took a liking to martial arts in middle school and became a black belt. She began pole vaulting at Nashoba and capped her high school career by medaling at the Central/Western Mass. Division 1 Championships as a senior.

Recruited to compete in track at UMass Lowell, Doyle, a mechanical engineering major, hung up her spikes after a couple of weeks to focus on her classes. They included one in ROTC, or Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

“I absolutely fell in love with it and what the military was doing and what it had to offer the people in it, so that’s why I ended up enlisting,” Doyle said.

Doyle joined the Air Force and was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California. She calibrated electric equipment used to maintain aircraft.

It was not only a big step in a different direction for Doyle, but her family, as well. Her parents, Sean and Johnna, both have master’s degrees while her three siblings, Joe, Haley and Keenan have graduated or are on track to graduate from four-year universities.

“So for them, for me not to get my degree was kind of a big deal,” Doyle said of her parents. “But they’re very proud of me for choosing to enter the military and they didn’t necessarily see it as off track, just a different track that I was taking.”

About a year and a half after enlisting, Doyle received a letter from the United States Air Force Academy detailing the application process. She applied toward the end of 2015 and was among the 12 percent of applicants accepted.

It was off to basic training at the elite institution of 4,200 students in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the following June.

“So when all of my friends were graduating from college I was going back into college,” Doyle said.

On one of the first days of school, a fellow cadet stopped by Doyle’s dorm room and asked if she was interested in playing rugby. On a whim, Doyle said why not.

It was love at first scrum.

“The sport was definitely interesting and I just loved the girls,” Doyle said. “It was all about the people on the team and getting to spend time with them because the Air Force Academy is very demanding on your time. You have military you have to do on top of academics and leadership that you’re learning.

“So being able to go out and play a sport in more of a relaxed environment was rewarding and I loved it. So I kept coming and the next year I got a little bit better and better and eventually I am where I am now.”

Initially a reserve player, Doyle has since become a captain and the starting scrum half — sort of the quarterback of the offense and the defense — for the Zoomies, the Air Force Academy’s hugely successful women’s club team.

Air Force won the USA Rugby Division 1 fall collegiate championship for the second straight year and the third time in the past four years with a 26-10 victory over Navy at Charlotte, North Carolina, in early December.

With Navy clamping down on Air Force’s top offensive threats, Doyle stepped up to fill the void. She scored 15 points on three tries (think touchdowns) and was named MVP of the match.

“All of them were team tries,” she said. “I think I had a total of four on the season before that game just because I’m not the one who normally takes it in. But I had my team march down the field for me and I was right there in that position.”

That capped a 9-0 season that included wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals against Indiana and Minnesota, respectively, by a combined score of 138-10 at Columbia, Missouri.

Add in national championships the last two years in the spring, when the game is played Olympic style with seven to a side rather than 15, and that makes five titles — and counting — for Doyle and the Zoomies.

“It’s awesome and I’m definitely grateful,” she said.

Doyle, who posted a 3.6 grade-point average this past semester, is scheduled to graduate in May with a degree in systems engineering. She’ll begin serving a multi-year commitment shortly thereafter.

No matter where she’s stationed, one gets the sense adventure rather than proximity is what Doyle will be seeking.

—Contact Rich Garven at rgarven@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.

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Ballinasloe’s Beibhinn relishes life in rugby’s fast lane

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Pictured above: Beibhinn Parsons in action for Ireland against Wales. Photo: INPHO/ IRFU.

Life has certainly been hectic for Ballinasloe’s Beibhinn Parsons since her last appearance for the Ireland women’s team back in early February.

Following her scintillating try against Wales in a Six Nations triumph at Energia Park – her third touchdown in just three Championship starts – the teenage sensation stepped away from the squad to concentrate on her impending Leaving Certificate examinations.

Within a matter of weeks, however, schools across the country were closed indefinitely in a bid to combat the Coronavirus pandemic and Ireland’s Six Nations campaign was also placed on hold.

Like the remainder of second level students, Parsons never got to sit in an exam hall and instead had to rely on calculated grades to determine her path into college life.

“I was gutted that I couldn’t have. I’d loved to have wrapped it up, put a bit of closure on it and get a result that you know you’d deserved. I would have loved to sit the exams.”

Currently studying Biomedical, Health & Life Sciences in UCD, the Galwegian is presently based on campus. Similar to the Ireland squad’s get-togethers and training camps, this requires extra caution on her part, but she is managing just fine so far.

“I’m doing a science subject, so there’ll be labs but all the protocols are in place. I’m feeling safe in my college set-up,” she said.

“Keeping my bubble to an absolute minimum because I don’t want to put myself in jeopardy or any of my team either. Just three house-mates and that’s my social circuit.”

With just some internal games with Ireland and her new club Blackrock College under her belt, Beibhinn could be forgiven for lacking match sharpness ahead of this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy in Donnybrook (kick-off 6.30pm).

Nevertheless, having kept well on top of her fitness levels during lockdown, the 18-year-old Connacht winger will not be found wanting if selected.

“We worked really closely with our strength and conditioning coach (Orlaith Curran) through Zoom and phone calls. For girls who didn’t have weights, we used body weight exercises. Our strength and conditioning didn’t stop at all and lots of us used the time to treat niggles and injuries… and come back stronger and fitter.

“Actually a positive in that sense. The competitive edge is still there. Not worried at all because we’re all competing for jerseys. We’ve hit the ground running and are really excited to play Italy.”

Since making her debut as a 16-year-old against the USA in November 2018 – becoming the youngest ever player to earn a senior Ireland cap in the process – Parsons has generally looked unfazed by any challenge that is placed in front of her.

Still, the former Ardscoil Mhuire student often looks on in awe at the company she finds herself in during these international windows.

She is full of praise for the likes of Eimear Considine (“she’s just a super human”), Sene Naoupu and Dorothy Wall.

An already strong Galway representation within the Ireland squad has been bolstered by the return of Claire Molloy to the Ireland fold.

Parsons added: “There’s a strong Galway contingent in the team and I’m a proud Galway girl and proud Ballinasloe girl. Claire’s a professional in everything she does. Ticks every box before training. Warm-up, conditioning. A full well-rounded player.”

Parsons was speaking at Canterbury’s launch of the new Ireland women’s rugby home jersey.

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Leinster Rugby | Keenan and Connors start against Italy in Guinness Six Nations restart

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The Ireland coaching team have named the match day squad for the rescheduled 2020 Guinness Six Nations fixture against Italy on Saturday.

There are four uncapped Leinster players included in the squad with Will Connors and Hugo Keenan named in the starting XV. Ed Byrne and Jamison Gibson-Park are in line for their international debuts off the bench.

Captain Johnny Sexton is joined in the half backs by Conor Murray with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose paired in the midfield.

Jacob Stockdale is named at fullback with Andrew Conway and the uncapped Keenan, who has been capped at Ireland Sevens level, on the wings.

In the front row Cian Healy edges closer to a century of caps as he makes his 99th appearance. He is joined by Rob Herring and Andrew Porter while James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne fill the second row berths.

In the back row Caelan Doris is named at blindside, Connors makes his debut at openside and CJ Stander is at No 8.

In the replacement forwards Byrne is joined by Dave Heffernan, who will be hoping to add the cap he won against the USA in 2017, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Peter O’Mahony.

Ross Byrne and Robbie Henshaw are the replacement backs alongside the uncapped Gibson-Park

Ireland Team (v Italy)

15. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 28 caps
14. Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 21 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 26 caps
11. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 91 caps CAPTAIN
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 81 caps
1. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 98 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 11 caps
3. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 26 caps
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/UCD) 2 caps
7. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
8. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 41 caps

Replacements

16. Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 1 cap
17. Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
18. Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Corinthians) 9 caps
19. Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 15 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 67 caps
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) uncapped
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 6 caps
23. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 43 caps

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SunLive – Date set for Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw

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World Rugby, and hosts New Zealand Rugby have announced the Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw will take place in Auckland on Friday, November 20.

SkyCity Theatre in the heart of Auckland’s central business district will be the location for the draw which will be streamed live for rugby fans worldwide via World Rugby’s digital channels.

Hosted in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, the ninth edition of the showcase tournament will take place from 18 September-16 October 2021 across three match venues. It will be contested by 12 teams, of which nine are already confirmed.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont says, “The Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw marks an important milestone for teams and fans alike as momentum truly starts to build towards the most important international rugby tournament of 2021.

“We are in unusual and unique times with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. However, working in full partnership with New Zealand Rugby and local and national authorities, we are committed to a spectacular Rugby World Cup 2021.

“We look forward to welcoming the world’s top women’s 15s players to New Zealand and fans around the world as we raise the bar for women’s rugby and women in rugby in line with our important and impactful 2017-25 Women in Rugby plan.”

Seven teams qualified directly for RWC 2021 courtesy of a top-seven finish at the last tournament in Ireland in 2017, defending champions New Zealand, runners-up England, bronze medallists France, USA, Canada, Australia and Wales.

Fiji and South Africa confirmed their places through the regional qualification process back in 2019, via the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup and Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship.

The remaining three places will be filled by a qualifier from Asia and Europe together with the winner of the Final Qualification Tournament, a first for a women’s Rugby World Cup, offering a second opportunity for teams to qualify.

For the first time, the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will be used to determine the draw seedings and bands for the seven direct qualifiers in bands one to three, with the five teams to emerge from the qualification process to be placed into band three and four.

The recent Rugby World Cup Board decision for the World Rugby Women’s Rankings from 1 January, 2020 to be applied represents the fairest approach. It was the last time all teams were able to play before the emergence of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

The bands are:

Band 1 – New Zealand, England, Canada
Band 2 – France, Australia, USA
Band 3 – Wales, Europe 1, South Africa
Band 4 – Asia 1, Fiji, Final Qualifier winner

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper says with the tournament now less than a year away, plans are ramping up.

“The official draw is another step on the journey towards kick-off, and the buzz is building. We can’t wait to welcome all 12 teams to Aotearoa New Zealand and showcase our manaakitanga to the world. The draw will determine who will play in the first matches at Eden Park and Northland Events Centre, which is an exciting prospect.”

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