As the Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Series comes sharply into view in the next few months, Leinster Rugby will focus on some of the unsung heroes making the girls and the women’s game tick across the 12 counties of Leinster.

These are their stories and their work. These are, The Women of Leinster Rugby.

Meet Lisa Doyle. Leinster Rugby’s Domestic Communications and Media Executive.

The Carlow woman is an example of what happens when you follow your passion in a world where so many don’t.

A dyed-in-the-wool advocate of the GAA, Lisa did not discover rugby until entering college at the Institute of Technology Carlow.

“I would have played GAA, football, all my life from the age of six with my club Clonmore and, also, tried camogie, basketball, soccer, and tennis,” says Lisa.

“My brother Patrick was playing rugby at the time for Tullow and it was a sport I always wanted to try because I liked the physical side of GAA. There just wasn’t a team to play on back then.”

In 2008, Lisa entered IT Carlow to undertake a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Public Relations. This was also the first year of the dedicated rugby course in the college, co-ordinated by Brett Igoe, the current Leinster Schools coach. After signing up to play rugby on the clubs and societies day, she headed to her first rugby training session, coached by some of the men who were undertaking the rugby course.

“When I look back now at my first rugby training session, there were about 12 girls there and the fear of tackling had been what we were all nervous about.

“It’s so funny. I remember the first drill we learned was how to fall properly – knee, hip, shoulder. I spent most of it on the ground because it wasn’t even about tackling, it was about learning how to take a tackle.”

Slowly, progress was made into the contact elements of tackling and being tackled. It wasn’t long before the women of IT Carlow made their way to the University of Limerick to play a team populated by many of Munster’s finest.

“It was 12-a-side and we obviously got completely wiped off the field in our first game. There was no messing or holding back,” she states.

“I can still remember taking that first tackle and getting up off the ground, determined I wouldn’t go down as easily the next time. That was it. You were into it then. It was a pretty harsh introduction to the game.”

It whetted the appetite. Lisa wanted to know more, learn more, practice more, play more and she wasn’t the only one.

In the second year, IT Carlow won the Colleges league, prompting the creation of the Coyotes, an amalgamation between the college and County Carlow FC in 2010.

“It was onwards and upwards from there. At this point, I came into contact with one of the most influential coaches in my playing career, Joe Bulmer,” Lisa admits.

“We had a great team with the likes of Emily McKeown and Aisling Brosnan, who went on to play for both the Leinster and Connacht women’s teams. We won Division Four in the Leinster League, skipped Division Three, won Division Two and won Division One, all year-after-year.”

A degree in Communications and Public Relations was followed by a Masters in Communications and Public Relations in Sport.

“After my degree and working for a few years in PR, I realised I wanted to work in sport when I asked myself ‘what is my passion?’”

“The professional element meant my dream job at the time, was to work with Leinster or the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union).

“When my current job came up, I threw my name into the hat, got the interview, got the job and, soon, got to love it,” she says.

In February 2017, Lisa settled into a cohesive team, all working for the betterment of an organisation whose remit is to support the promotion and development of rugby in all areas of the game.

“When people mention Leinster Rugby, it is usually around the professional team. And I understand that,” says Lisa.

“But, I actually love being able to promote the women’s game and the club game beyond the schools. It is where I come from.

“When I was growing up, the chance to play was just not there until I went to college. That has changed dramatically with the girls and women’s game exploding.”

In regard to the job itself, Lisa has been exposed to a multi-dimensional role that is equal part challenge and reward.

“It is way more than I thought it would be. I knew about the schools, the clubs, the girls and the women,” Lisa says.

“There is also the involvement with players, coaches, volunteers, referees and you also have the community element, all our committees and promoting the work they all do in the background.

“The organisation of 261 competitions has to be catered to. The communication with the army of 49 CCROs (Club Community Rugby Officers), the 17 CROs (Community Rugby Officers), the 7 CDOs (Coach Development Officers) and the four WDOs (Women Development Officers) has to be sound.”

Everyone is working towards the same goal, the promotion and development of rugby in Leinster.

“You have the three arms of the organisation, the professional team, the commercial and marketing team and the domestic team,” adds Lisa.

“Personally, I get to work across all three. As the tagline says, it all works ‘From The Ground Up’.

“We wouldn’t have one without the other two. In this regard, there is the feeling of everyone pulling in the same direction.”

The variety in the day-to-day responsibilities is another attractive element of what Lisa does.

“It is never the same two days in a row. There is no chance to get bored because you are doing different things all the time.

“There has been the start of inclusion rugby across the province. Our women’s side travelled to Twickenham to play Harlequins.  Even this season, we have embarked on the 12-Counties tour. Last season we started our 12 Counties, One Club series. For example, we have already been to Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow and Tallaght shooting videos for this series.

“In my time here, it is incredible to see how the age-grade and senior women’s teams have developed and grown, in terms of the numbers and the profile. It ramps up every year.

“When I started in this role, I would have been the one banging the drum when it came to the clubs and the women’s game. They were some of the main areas of responsibility for me.

“It has gotten to the stage where the women are being promoted on an equal-footing in the domestic game, alongside our men’s team.

“For instance the coverage of the Sarah Robinson Cup rivals that of the Shane Horgan Cup and Leinster Schools Cup.

“At the highest level, the offer of professional contracts to the women’s team by the IRFU is another big step in the right direction. It continues to rise year-on-year and it’s fantastic to see this continued growth.

“I know I’m very lucky to get to work in a sport I have great passion for, from picking up the rugby ball at a late stage and getting to work with an organisation such as Leinster Rugby.

“While working here, I will continue to bang the drum for promotion of our domestic game around the 12 counties of Leinster and continue to work for the growth of the game from girls, women’s, clubs and schools alike.”