Laura Coates speaks to Ireland Women’s full-back Niamh Briggs about the challenge facing the team in France. This article is re-produced by permission from ScrumQueens.com.
The Irish squad are well aware of the tough task that awaits them this Friday evening at the Stade des Allees in Blois.
France are coming off the back of a stinging last-minute loss to Scotland last Saturday in Edinburgh. They are also looking to avenge a 7-5 RBS Women’s 6 Nations defeat at the hands of the Irish girls last year.
It is a challenge that Niamh Briggs, the Irish full-back, says the squad are up for.
“It’s hard enough to go over there and win when they’re on form, but when they are looking to rebound too from what was a surprising defeat last weekend, they will be difficult to beat,” she admitted.
“We are under no illusions as to how hard they are to beat at home, but we’ll have to front up and hopefully get a lucky bounce of the ball on the day.
“The French away will be a test of where we are as a squad. I’m sure they will be very up for it, which is something we are going to have to take on board.
“At the start of the season we talked about having such good depth in the squad, and it’s important that everyone gets a run.
“We have the World Cup coming up, and the management want to blood in some players. The five coming in are just as good as those who have gone out, and I know the girls who come in will really be looking forward to stamping their mark on the side.”
The Clonmel clubwoman, who booted a spectacular drop goal in last weekend’s 22-5 victory over the Italians, told www.Scrumqueens.com on Wednesday that there is an air of quiet confidence about the side as they head to France.
“As to their strengths, you really don’t know with the French. They can run from anywhere, kick from anywhere, so we will have to play it as it comes. They have strength everywhere,” she added.
The Irish defensive display was one of the positives which emerged from their Six Nations opener.
“We worked hard, and defended well for a long period of time in the first half. We took great heart from that.
“We defended well without them crossing the line. It was tough, the first encounter of the Championship will always show up a bit of rustiness, so we hope to improve another bit as well this weekend.”
Briggs, a Garda based in Limerick, says she is looking forward to this summer’s World Cup tournament in England, but for now it is all about keeping the head down and taking each Six Nations match as it comes.
“The Gardai have been so good to me, and give me the opportunities to go away and train when I can. It’s massive for me to have that support behind me.”
Briggs is also a champion Waterford Gaelic footballer who holds eight All-Ireland medals from underage to senior level.
She started playing rugby as a bet with another girl after a summer tag session, and after a season with Dungarvan has featured with Division 1 team Clonmel for three years.
“Playing football helped me lots in rugby. I didn’t know what a rugby ball was a few years ago!”
She has taken a break from her GAA career this year to focus on the World Cup, and says the switch to the oval ball game has been ‘a massive rollercoaster.’
“There have been great highs and lows, but I’m fortunate it’s been mainly highs for me so far,” she said.
Irish supporters are hoping it will be another one for her this weekend.
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