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‘We Want To Set New Standards On And Off The Field’ – Hogan

Brittany Hogan 28/9/2023

Ireland Women’s Rugby XV Squad Training, IRFU High Performance Centre, Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin 28/9/2023 Brittany Hogan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

It is all systems go for Scott Bemand’s Ireland as they step up their preparations for the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations. Ireland will get their Championship underway against France in Le Mans on Saturday, March 23 (kick-off 2.15pm local time), before their opening home fixture of the campaign sees the girls in green welcome Italy to the RDS on Sunday, March 31 (kick-off 3pm).

The 35-player squad, which includes an additional seven training panellists, have been in camp in the IRFU High Performance Centre in Blanchardstown for three weeks. The atmosphere surrounding the team is positive, with anticipation growing for the upcoming tournament.

The group have enjoyed the time they’ve spent together, gelling both on and off the field. They’ve worked hard on the pitch, whilst the social committee have kept them entertained in their free time. They’ve met for coffees, organised movie and game nights as well as always being able to have a good general chat in the team room both in the HPC and in the hotel.

Irish backrow Brittany Hogan described the strong connection between players and management. They have had more time to become familiar with their still relatively new set-up.

“The WXV 3 in Dubai was our first competition period under Scott and our new management. Sean Ryan has come in to lead on the culture side of things. We spent a lot of those sessions just setting our own performance goals.

“We spent time talking about the standards we want to set both on and off the field and how we want to be known as a group, we set out all those targets in November. It all goes back to that momentum that we are trying to create. We’re all on the same page now, which puts us all at ease a little bit more this time around”.

Hogan, still only 25-years-old, has already become one of the more experienced players in this youthful Irish squad. The powerful number eight is seen by many as a real leader within that Irish pack. The 18-times capped Hogan is delighted she can pass some wisdom down to the younger crop.

She said: “I always try and be as approachable as I can be. I do nearly have 20 caps to my name now.  I’ve played Irish 7’s, I’ve been involved in that U18s set-up, I’ve been around the block even though I’m still only 25!

Brittany Hogan 23/1/2022

Brittany Hogan in action for the Ireland 7s – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

“If I was in any other international team, I’d probably be one of the younger players. We’re lucky that the girls are easy to coach, they’re so responsive to feedback. I’ve been in certain scenarios that maybe some players haven’t been in yet, it’s important to help them and develop that trust, in the same way I look to the more experienced players in the squad”.

The 2023 Six Nations campaign was a difficult period for women’s rugby in this country. Five defeats left Ireland at the bottom of the standings. The team came under considerable scrutiny from the media. The Ulster star admits it was tough for everyone involved.

However, she believes they can’t pay too much attention to outside noise. They must focus on the job at hand and the games in front of them.

“We experienced a lot of media backlash last year, a lot of negative comments about us.  Our captain Nicola Fryday was great at reminding us to not listen to any of it. She always said they don’t know how hard we’re working; all they’re seeing is the results.

“We have to trust our process and focus on the people that really matter, our players and coaching staff, and the people that our backing us,” the Co. Down native explained.

Brittany Hogan and Sadhbh McGrath 28/4/2023

Ireland stars Brittany Hogan and Sadhbh McGrath – Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Craig Watson

She made the point that they are on a completely different path to Andy Farrell’s senior team. You can’t draw a comparison between the two national outfits.

“The men are the best in the world, they’re going for back-to-back Grand Slams. It’s very easy to compare the Men’s and Women’s team in the same country, but we’re on completely different trajectories.

“We’re hoping to get where they are one day, but we have to be realistic and focus on our plan and where we’re trying to get to right now”

It is no secret that one of their key targets for 2024 is to secure qualification to the 2025 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England. England and France have already booked their spot at the tournament, meaning a third-place finish in this season’s Six Nations could get Ireland their golden ticket back on the grand stage.

“Our number one goal is to qualify for that World Cup,” she confirmed when asked about their goals for the calendar year.

“On a personal note, I was playing in Parma when we didn’t qualify for the last World Cup. It’s gives me that added personal drive to make sure I can help the team in whatever way I can, in whatever my role is.

“I need to stay present and do everything I can to perform the best I can for the team, whenever I get that opportunity”

Tickets are on sale now for all three home games, in the RDS, Virgin Media Park and Kingspan Stadium, for the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations, and can be purchased through ticket master.