Thursday, January 30, 2014

Support the Girls in Green!

A look ahead to the Irish Womens’ Grand Slam defence by Sarah Lennon…

Women's Rugby column

Fiona Coughlan RBS Six Nations Launch VwGPaC-8bhslThe Irish women’s rugby team take on Scotland on Friday in a defence of their Grand Slam Crown. Ashbourne is the setting as Ireland takes on their Scottish counterparts under lights. Of course there may not have been a title to defend had things gone differently in the summer. Plans to create a two tier tournament seriously threatened to undermine the women’s game. Thankfully in April an agreement was reached and a commitment given by all unions to the tournament.

Regarding this year’s tournament, it will be no easy feat for Ireland to defend their crown. Fiona Coghlan again captains the team and Philip Doyle remains as head coach. Three home games are helpful including the historic occasion of Ireland V Italy at Aviva stadium. Two very tough away fixtures in England in Twickenham and France will be key. The women return to Pau on the final day and hopefully the travel arrangements go smoother than the last trip.

First up is Scotland. It is tempting to predict an easy win for Ireland as the defending champions taking on last year’s wooden spoon holders, but that would be a disservice to Scotland who gave Ireland a huge test on their way to last season’s maiden 6 Nations victory with the 30-3 scoreline belying a very tough first hour. Ireland will be favourites, of course, but it can be a very difficult ask for the senior women’s team. Unlike their male equivalent, there are no summer tours or November series, the 6 Nations is the be all and end all. This team hasn’t played together since securing the title in Italy last year. Hitting the ground running is key and a good win in a non-test match versus Italy last weekend will have shaken loose a few of the cobwebs.

Mirroring the men’s tournament, the women have another home game the following Friday, again in Ashbourne against Wales. The girls in green will be hoping for some momentum going into a difficult trip to Twickenham. England have a stronger look and feel this year after last season’s focus on the 7s, and in particular the return of Maggie Alphonsi will give an enormous boost to the English side.

The first two home matches in this year’s 6 Nations will be held in Ashbourne and the last vs Italy in the Aviva. The women’s match is free for those in attendance for the men’s match, and a tenner for anyone wishing to attend the women’s match only.

Old Belvedere Ladies are running a supporters bus to and from Ashbourne  and there is an IRFU scheme for supporters buses to the Aviva for Ireland V Italy http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/30487.php

Get out and support the girls in green!!

Sarah Lennon (@sarahlennon08) is passionate about all things rugby. A Leinster Season Ticket holder since the Donnybrook days, a supporter of the Irish teams home and abroad and can regularly be seen cheering on Junior Rugby at Stillorgan RFC (a labour of love). As well as spectating, she dabbles in playing a bit and is a member of Old Belvedere RFC and fully paid up member of the front row union.

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