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Davitt: We Can Beat Anyone On Our Day

Davitt: We Can Beat Anyone On Our Day

Grace Davitt is hoping it will be a case of ‘third time lucky’ as she prepares for the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup in France.

Grace Davitt was a member of the Ireland squads that finished 8th and 7th in the previous two World Cups in Canada and England respectively, but she believes winning the Six Nations Grand Slam last year can spur them on to succeed on the biggest stage of all.

“My first (Ireland) cap was in 2005 and back then we were lucky to win one or two games in the Six Nations. For us to go and win the Grand Slam was just unthinkable,” the Cooke centre told the Ulster Rugby website

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“But now we have a belief within the squad that is just getting stronger and stronger and when you have the belief that you can win, it can happen for you.

“We’ve improved our position in the last two World Cups and we’re progressing as a team so we’re definitely aiming for sixth or higher.”

The Ireland Women have been grouped in a difficult pool alongside defending champions New Zealand as well as USA and Kazakhstan, both of whom they also faced in the 2010 tournament. It is a challenge that Davitt is very much relishing.

“Our results over the past couple of years show that we have nothing to fear and that we can beat anyone on our day.

“We have a good mix of experience and youth – we have people like Lynne Cantwell who will be playing in her fourth World Cup and who has great experience, and then you have the enthusiasm of young players like Ashleigh (Baxter) that are bringing something new to the squad.”

Increased media coverage coupled with the Grand Slam triumph in 2013 has led to more and more girls and women taking up the oval ball sport, a trend that will only help the future of the game at all levels.

“When I first started people didn’t know women played rugby, so for matches to be televised and for us to play at stadiums like Twickenham and the Aviva (Stadium), it promotes the game in a great light and suddenly young girls have something to aspire to.

“The Women’s game has exploded with the number of girls playing, and playing at a younger age,” explained Davitt, one of four Ulster-born players in the current Irish squad.

Having played international rugby for nine years, Davitt has witnessed first hand the changes and progress being made within the Ireland Women’s set-up.

“In the years that I’ve been playing, the difference in terms of support that’s there and the professionalism is unbelievable. Our management team is amazing…the amount of work they put in behind the scenes to get us to where we are.

“We now have regular skills and strength & conditioning sessions which are carried out provincially, in addition to our squad sessions as a group.”

Unlike their male counterparts, female rugby players in Ireland are not full-time athletes, and therefore it is a case of balancing rugby and work.

“Rugby is your life, it takes over. Work is brilliant in facilitating time off, but a lot of us have to save up annual leave to use it for tournaments such as this,” she added.

“You train in the morning, go to work and then train again in the evening and go to bed. That’s what you have to do to be the best that you possibly can so you give every free moment to rugby.”