New Ireland captain Nichola Fryday couldn’t hide her excitement ahead of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations where she will lead her side in their search for a first taste of Championship glory for seven years.
Ireland finished third last season with a 25-5 win over Italy in the third/fourth play-off and there is certainly a feeling in camp that this year they can compete for the title after an impressive autumn campaign that included wins over USA and Japan.
Fryday is extremely grateful for the opportunity to lead her country, after being named Ireland’s new skipper for the Championship by coach Greg McWilliams following consistent showings in the Green jersey since her debut in 2016.
She said: “It is the greatest honour in anyone’s sporting career to play for your country, so for me to be given the opportunity to captain Ireland is incredible and I’m grateful for the chance to lead this team.”
After the pandemic led to a shortened and slightly different feel in 2021, second row Fryday, 26, is eagerly anticipating what she believes could be the closest Championship yet.
“I’m really excited, to have it back in its entirety this year is great after Covid last year,” said the Exeter Chiefs star at the TikTok Women’s Six Nations launch in Shoreditch.
“It feels like the lead up to a proper Six Nations again. We’re all really excited, it feels like it’s going to be one of the most competitive years as well, all nations are prepping well, so I think it’s going to be a really good Six Nations.”
Fryday insists that Ireland are not coming into this Championship to simply make up the numbers, with the target to lift the coveted TikTok Women’s Six Nations trophy.
“Yeah definitely, we’re going in to win it,” said the 22-cap Irish international.
“I think that’s the target for every team, you don’t go into a Championship thinking we’re not going to win it because that’s what makes it competitive.”
Ireland’s first challenge in their title bid comes in the shape of Wales who travel to the RDS Arena in Dublin in Round 1, and Fryday is hoping for a similar result to the 45-0 victory they recorded over the same opposition a year ago, although she is under no illusions that this year’s clash will present a much sterner test.
“We’re really excited it for it,” said the former Connacht star.
“Wales are going to be a good squad, obviously they’ve brought in their [full-time] contracts, and they’ve been training away the last few months.
“So, it’s going to be a really exciting match and we’re really buzzing to get kicked off with it.”
This year’s Championship welcomes a title sponsor for the first time in social media giants TikTok, allowing fans to connect with all the game changing heroes of the women’s game, and in doing so raising the profile of women’s rugby in a massive year for the sport with the Women’s Rugby World Cup taking place this autumn in New Zealand.
Fryday believes TikTok’s partnership is only going to propel the women’s game towards new heights.
She said: “It’s great, I think it’s a platform that has really taken off in the past two years and it gives us another way of reaching out to our supporters.
“It’s brilliant to have TikTok on board.”
Fryday is also relishing the return of fans with supporters able to take in a full-length Championship held in a separate window from the men’s and Under-20s competitions for the first time with all eyes set to be firmly cast on the TikTok Women’s Six Nations from March 26.
“To have the fans back is just amazing, we had them back in the autumn for our November series and it’s just great, they just lift you again,” explained Fryday.
“The stadiums we’re going to be playing in are going to be close to sold out, and it’s just going to be amazing to have them with us again.
“I think it [the dedicated window] worked well last year even though it was a shortened Six Nations.
“It definitely gave us that platform, and you could see in the media outlets, it was solely focused on the Women’s Six Nations after each match, so to have that platform again this year I think is only going to be good for women’s rugby.”