Having lived a dream by lining out at the RDS recently, Eve Higgins is eagerly anticipating Ireland’s move to Musgrave Park for Sunday’s third round encounter with Italy. Tickets are available here.
In a break from tradition, the IRFU have decided to move Ireland’s home games in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations this year around the country instead of keeping them in one venue.
Whereas Energia Park in Donnybrook was the exclusive home ground for the Six Nations of 2016 to 2021 inclusive, Ireland faced Wales at the nearby RDS for this season’s Championship opener.
For Higgins, a Leinster fan since childhood, this was a milestone moment in her blossoming career. 6,113 spectators – a new record for a standalone Women’s Six Nations fixture on these shores – descended upon Ballsbridge for that game and Higgins believes travelling around the Island will help to grow the sport in the long run.
“I think it’s great to expand the women’s game in the country. Playing in the RDS, I grew up going to Leinster games with my Dad and my family. It was such an honour to be playing in the RDS as a Leinster fan,” said Higgins.
“The likes of it moving to Cork and obviously up in Belfast (against Scotland) at the end of the Six Nations, it is great because it’s getting more eyes onto the game and people that necessarily can’t come up to Dublin and watch us live can watch us now. I think it’s good to expand people watching women’s rugby in this country.”
Higgins experienced mixed emotions at Stade Ernest Wallon in Toulouse last Saturday, for what was the first of two away games for Ireland in this year’s Championship.
While she crossed the whitewash for her maiden 15s international try – and had some other bright moments from her position of outside centre – Ireland ultimately fell to a 40-5 defeat to les Bleues.
Although there is a natural disappointment that results have not gone their way so far with back-to-back losses, Higgins accepts that Ireland are at a developmental stage under new head coach Greg McWilliams and are building for the future.
Of all the teams in the Six Nations, we are the only ones who haven’t qualified for a World Cup and we are in this building phase.
“We are at a different stage as everyone else and we’re trying to, as a new group of players and a new group of management, to build on our performances and look at the next few months and years rather than right now necessarily.”
There have been some encouraging signs in their games against Wales and France, with Higgins also having a try disallowed early on in Toulouse before getting her name on the scoresheet after the break.
She has struck up a promising centre partnership with Ireland Sevens team-mate Stacey Flood, the pair dovetailing well outside Nicole Cronin who is settling into a new position of out-half.
Higgins is excited by the potential of the Irish back-line, but also acknowledged an element of frustration at how some of their moves have not quite come off during the opening two rounds.
“Something like the handling errors is something that we’d really want to improve on this weekend. We’ve seen both in the France game and the Wales game, that when we have opportunities with ball in hand, we see how threatening our attack can be.
“Both forwards and backs combined. I think we can take a lot of encouragement and positives from that, and just try to get more opportunities like that this weekend.
“The positives we have as a back-line is that a lot of us are very familiar with each other and can play off each other quite well. Even the likes of me and Stacey in the centre.
“Last weekend was only the second game we were together in a partnership in the centre, but we’ve been playing together (in Sevens) for the last five or six years.
“We know each other quite well. It’s a lot of new details that we have come up with, but we do have that reassurance, that we know each other quite well,” added the 22-year-old.