10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Carol Staunton and I had our last few visits to the Connacht branch for some very enjoyable training sessions - the anticipation of the World Cup has been acting as an extra boost the last week.
In Connacht we've had a great run at training, we've had two brilliant sessions training with the men and loved their iPods on the sound system.
Training with Emer O'Dowd has been a constant feature this summer and a massive help. She has given up her time to supervise us with our programme and get involved herself on occasion.
We'll miss the Connacht gym and the odd daft look we got when we broke out a dance move to some of their musical offerings, quickly remembering where we were and stopping.
Having the luxury of us both being students, fitting in training has never been too difficult the last few weeks. That luxury is not something most of our squad have and many have to had to fit training in between busy work schedules, either rising early or heading to the gym after work.
Last weekend offered a pleasant surprise to Carol and me, courtesy of Galwegians. Having been invited to what we presumed was a Connacht Women's BBQ, their second get together that day turned out to be a good luck/bon voyage party for the two of us organised by the girls.
They had a custom-made cake made for the two that was a fantastic replica of the Ireland jersey with a good luck message and a plaque each. Having both our families there and the girls, who had apparently been in on it for a while, made it a memorable day.
A few days to go before we travel to England, our team manager Rachel Reid sent us the all important team list. Having initially held us in suspense with a first email, it was in the second we found out who'd be our roomies for the next three weeks.
There is no such thing as a bad roomie within the squad, more just absent as many a room-mate of Fiona Coghlan will know. With roomie information in hand, we can now get to grips with the important task of decorating the apartments. I can see a lot of green going on.
With a break from training, we were left with the task of packing and preparing for Monday. For the music lovers of the bunch that means ensuring our iPods have a good pre-match mix and for everyone of course making sure the vital passport is on hand.
Whether it's Sunday evening or Monday morning, we'll be checking we have everything with us - whether it's our lucky sports bra, our mascots or, most obviously, our boots!
It's been months of training, of saying, 'sorry I've rugby', to very patient friends, partners and family members and a summer of long weekends but come 6.30pm next Friday it all begins with England.
It is a fixture that we've been looking forward to from first it was announced. To beat the hosts in their first game and on live TV is the start we're aiming for and it's achievable. We know that.
It is the kind of match every player relishes, the chance to do something amazing, in our case something that has not been done before.
USA and Kazakhstan will be waiting for us come August 24 and 28. With every game counting and every bonus point being calculated, consistency is definitely going to be key.
And with the World Cup being in London, we're grateful of having a good number of supporters travelling over to the games. It'll be nice to see a fair few familar faces in the crowd at each game.
Days to go, are we excited? Yes.
Ireland kick off their Women's Rugby World Cup campaign against hosts and tournament favourites England on Friday, August 20. You can follow Claire's blog and the progress of the girls in green right here on IrishRugby.ie.
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