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Twickenham Won’t Be A Factor – Coghlan

Twickenham Won’t Be A Factor – Coghlan

It will be the Ireland Women’s first appearance at Twickenham since 2004, but captain Fiona Coghlan insists her side will not be overawed by playing at English rugby’s headquarters.

Perennial Six Nations champions England were dethroned by Ireland last year, losing 25-0 at Ashbourne RFC, and they are hungry for revenge when the sides meet at Twickenham on Saturday evening.

Gary Street’s squad are hoping to give the home support something to shout about as they look to make it two wins out of three, having lost away to France in their Championship opener.

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Ireland head coach Philip Doyle said ‘it’s just Twickenham, it’s just another stadium’ when asked if lining out at the world famous London venue could intimidate his players.

Ireland’s most-capped player, centre Lynne Cantwell, and captain Fiona Coghlan are the only survivors from the 51-10 loss to England at Twickenham 10 years ago.

Echoing her coach’s sentinments, prop Coghlan wrote in her Irish Sports Council blog that playing at Twickenham will not be daunting for the 2013 Grand Slam winners.

“There has been much talk about playing at Twickenham after the men’s game and although it is an amazing opportunity to showcase Women’s rugby on one of the biggest stages, having played there 10 years ago, it really is no different than most of the stadiums we play in,” she said.

“We have played in front of large vocal crowds before at our home ground in Ashbourne but also in France where you could have up to 15,000 at a game. We have no doubt that there will be a vocal Irish support there to cheer us on.”

That will especially be the case if Joe Schmidt’s men’s side beat England earlier on to claim the Triple Crown, a prize that the girls in green are shooting for themselves.

Again though, the prospect of winning a second Triple Crown in as many years is not on the minds of the Irish Women – they will treat it as just another Six Nations game, according to out-half Nora Stapleton.

“Certainly there’s a great buzz (in camp), we all look forward to every one of these games. The fact that it’s a Triple Crown (decider), it’s no different from last year,” Stapleton told RTÉ Sport.

“Third match in and it just happens to be for the Triple Crown. But, for us, it’s just our next Six Nations game and it gives us a chance to improve on our performance against Wales and stay in control of the Championship.”

Coghlan and company will definitely need to produce an improved performance from their 14-6 home win over the Welsh last time out.

Expanding on what they have done since then, the reigning Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year revealed: “Although the body probably needed this two-week break, when you get such momentum from winning your first two games you just want to keep playing.

“Despite the win against Wales (a fortnight ago), there was disappointment within the squad about our performance but ultimately it gave us key aspects to work on going into the England game.

“We had a one-day camp last weekend to focus on England and how we are going to play against them. Obviously this is a huge game and could be a defining moment of the tournament, but we will approach it the same way we approach every game and that is to go out and win it.”

Coghlan, who teaches PE and Maths at Lucan Community College, is thankful that the mid-term break has afforded her some extra time to plan and prepare for Saturday’s showdown.

“Match weeks are normally a bit hectic because you are trying to fit a week’s work into three days. Thankfully this week I am on mid-term so I get a little more time for rest and recovery.

“The girls based in England are delighted for once they don’t have to travel (over for the game). I don’t know how they cope with the airport every weekend from December to March!”

The Ireland squad had a team run at Twickenham today, as well as a tour of the stadium, as they finalise their preparations for the round 3 tie.

The England v Ireland Women’s match will be broadcast live on RTÉ Two (kick-off 6.20pm) with worldwide coverage on www.rte.ie/live. There will also be live radio commentary on 2fm’s ‘Game On’ programme.

Related Links –

Cantwell: We’ve Tweaked A Few Things For Twickenham

Two Changes To Ireland Women’s Team For Twickenham Tie