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Andrea Stock’s decision to swap ballet for rugby is paying off

March 22nd, 2024 7:00 PM

By Sean Holland

Andrea Stock’s decision to swap ballet for rugby is paying off Image
Andrea Stock will hope to make an impact with Ireland in the Six Nations. (Photo:

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MEET Andrea Stock – she’s the Irish rugby player who has a background in ballet.

The combination of rugby and ballet might seem unusual on the outside, but there was a method to the madness, explained the Durrus woman named in the Ireland squad for the upcoming Guinness Women's Six Nations campaign.

‘Something that’s similar between the two of them is discipline because you have to be very disciplined in both sports,’ Stock told the Star Sport Podcast.

‘That was something that transferred over really well, just the discipline of rugby and just how strict you have to be on yourself. It's the same with ballet.’

‘Ballet was quite good for mobility,’ Stock added, recalling that her parents went the full nine yards.

‘They got me a tutu and a frame for me to practice!’

But she soon realised her calling lay on the rugby field, not on hardwood dance floors, so ballet was nudged to one side.

‘I come from quite a sporty family,’ 24-year-old Stock said. ‘My parents always had me and my siblings involved in sports growing up. I played Gaelic football and did swimming as well. I decided to play rugby when I was around 14 and that's when the ballet stopped.’

Stock was 14 years old when she joined Bantry Bay RFC, and all thanks to the promptings of a friend, Caroline Downey. It was love at first sight: rugby became her sporting passion.

‘I went along to a training session and I fell in love with it pretty much straight away,’ Stock said, and that was the beginning of a journey that has now seen her progress to be included in Ireland’s women’s Six Nations squad. There’s a familiar face from home in the international set-up, too, her former Bantry Bay and Munster team-mate Enya Breen (who has 17 caps for Ireland) from Skibbereen. Together, they were on the Munster U18 girls' team that won the interpros in 2017, and received a call-up to the province's senior set-up at the same time.

‘Enya is a massive part of my life,’ Stock said. ‘Seeing the success that she has had, especially from such a young age, has been brilliant. Even when I moved over to the UK, Enya was always a massive influence on my life. It’s everything that she's done for herself, I always just looked at her and said “that's what I want to be like as a player”. I strive to do exactly what she's doing.’

Before their reunion in the Irish senior squad, both Stock and Breen embarked on different journeys. In 2018 Stock swapped West Cork for London when she started at Brunel University London, studying Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences. Once she landed in London, a door opened to ignite her rugby career with Premiership side Wasps. The rest, as they say, is history.

‘One of my coaches at Brunell played for Wasps. She told me to come along to a training session and I absolutely loved it. That was my club for six years before I changed clubs this season,’ she explained.

Stock excelled in the black and yellow of Wasps until the club disbanded due to financial issues. She moved to Ealing Trailfinders last summer and her performances didn’t go unnoticed, as Irish eyes have been on the versatile prop.

‘When I was at Wasps, regardless of the fact it was quite a tough time, I was playing quite well. The Irish head coach at the time had contacted me and said “We've seen you play, we've been watching your clips, so you're on our radar”,’ Stock said.

‘This time last year I was called into the wider Ireland squad for the Six Nations. I never actually got called into camp. I was very much just the wider squad so that if someone got injured, I'd be brought in. No one did end up getting injured, so I never actually came into camp.

‘Now there’s a new Irish head coach, Scott Bemand. He came over before Christmas and introduced himself. I met John McKee as well, who's our forwards coach, and they just said what they liked about me – “You're a strong scrummager, you're a really strong ball carrier, and these are aspects that we're looking for”. They said to keep doing exactly what I am doing.’

In early February an email landed in Stock’s inbox. Ping. She was told she was under consideration for the Six Nations squad. A Thursday after training, Stock received another email.

‘I told my coaches I’m going home to read it on my own in case it’s bad news and I start crying. I got home, took a deep breath and read it – it said that I had been selected for the squad. Honestly, it was the happiest moment of my life. I rang my parents straight away and I was doing a little dance up and down!’ she beamed.

Ireland begin their campaign away to France on Saturday, 23rd, and there’s one game in particular Stock is looking forward to – Wales at home in Musgrave Park on Saturday, April 13th.

‘To play in that game would just be massive. I've already had so many family members just ready to buy tickets if I do manage to get selected. I would say half of West Cork would come up to that game!’ Stock said.

Exciting times for the Durrus woman who is ready to grab her chance in the Six Nations. Ballet’s loss has been rugby’s gain.

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