'My Nana would turn over in her grave if she knew I was an Irish Women's rugby player'
Apparently, turning in one's grave is a good thing in Hertfordshire
Megan Williams was a holiday rep and children's entertainer in Rhodes, Greece, back in 2013. 18 months on and she is now living in Dublin, a fitness instructor, a key member of the Ireland Women Sevens team and pressing her Six Nations claims with the senior side. In between, she worked with an outdoor activity in Wales and travelled extensively in the USA and Canada.
Williams likes to keep busy.
The 23-year-old was one of seven Sevens players named in Anthony Eddy's extended Six Nations squad, in January. Williams came to Ireland's attention in late 2013, not long after she had returned from her holiday rep job in Greece. 'I had to stage shows and organise day-time activities,' she says. 'Basically, I was the annoying one, going around and getting people off their sun-beds.'
Ireland's Kerri-Ann Craddock, a friend, asked her along for training sessions with the Exiles, in London. Williams' father and paternal grandparents hail from Roscommon so that fact, combined with impressive training outings with Exiles, saw her invited for a Sevens trial by then-Ireland coach Jon Skurr. She made such a positive impact during her two-day session, and matches that soon followed, that she was offered a Sevens contract.
Her first try came, in April 2014, as Ireland won the Bowl competition at the China Sevens. Although Williams will not feature this weekend, in Ireland's Six Nations opener, Eddy has earmarked her for a future role as outside centre.
She told us, 'I started playing rugby at the age of 10 and have played it, on and off, ever since. I kept it up when I was away in the USA and Canada and was delighted to get the chance to come to Ireland [in January 2014]. The way I looked at is was, "I'm young, I love the sport and I have nothing to lose."
'My Nana would turn over in her grave if she knew I was an Irish rugby player. She passed away a couple of years ago and was always encouraging of my playing the game. She would be delighted.'
Williams' first away trip with Ireland Sevens immediately immersed her into a life she could easily get used to. The first legs of the Sevens World Series took the squad to Atlanta, USA, and Brazil. 'You'll never forget your first cap, I'm sure,' she says, 'but to make my debut against England, in Brazil, was unforgettable.'
Accustomed to playing fullback or wing in the 15s format, Williams has been identified as a potential replacement to Ireland's other legendary 13 - Lyne Cantwell [pictured below]. She says, 'Niamh Briggs is Ireland's fullback and a world-class one at that. There is an opening at 13 and I'm glad they see me as someone who can do a job. I'm quite versatile and can play across the backline so hopefully that stands to me.'
Williams established Invictus Fitness with her boyfriend, Tony, in Parkwest, last year, and is currently working her fitness instructing schedule around daily 2-7pm sessions with the Irish team. Her long-term goal is to become a well-known name in Ireland's health and fitness industry. Combining professional and sporting dreams can be, at times, taxing but Williams is not one for easing off.
The Ireland Women's team lost a host of established stars - including Cantwell, Grace Davitt, Fiona Coghlan - to retirement last year. Williams is determined to break into the squad during this year's championship and be a first-team regular by the time the 2017 World Cup comes around.
'It's amazing that the players that went before us could achieve so much when they were holding down full-time jobs. We got a good luck email, as a squad, from Fiona when we first met in camp for the Six Nations. It's great to have that support and, hopefully, we can build on all the success and recognition they have earned in the last few years.'