By Brendan Cole
The Ireland women’s rugby team are looking no further than World Cup qualification and a possible Triple Crown ahead of this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Scotland.
The remarkable victory over England in the second round of the Championship, the first in the team’s 20 year history, means Ireland have the opportunity to win a first-ever Championship and could also potentially complete what would be a historic Grand Slam.
That 25-0 victory over the superpower in the women’s game, which followed a narrow win in Wales the previous week, means only Scotland, France and Italy lie between Ireland a possible Slam.
After 10 years with the squad, the victory over England was particularly sweet for captain Fiona Coghlan, head coach Philip Doyle and other veterans in the team.
Speaking to Jacqui Hurley for Against The Head, Coghlan said: “For the likes of myself, Lynne (Cantwell), Joy (Neville) and Philip, we’ve been involved for 10 years so to actually finally do it this year was unbelievable.”
A huge home game against a French side who beat Ireland 8-7 in France last year looms in the second last round, but the focus remains on the clash with Scotland on Saturday afternoon.
A win in that match will ensure that Ireland have a place at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France in 2014.
Coghlan added: “Going into this competition our priority was World Cup qualification, and that’s still going to be our priority. Beating Scotland would mean we will do that and get the Triple Crown which would be nice as well.”
Scotland, who were hammered 76-0 by England and also lost by a single point to Italy on the opening weekend, should not present the same level of challenge but Ireland expect a difficult match.
Ireland wing Alison Miller, who got a hat-trick against England, said: “We do need to be focussed and respect because they are quite a good team. We need to be clued in and play our own game, work on the basics and be clinical.”
Doyle also expects a difficult challenge against the Scots, despite a below par beginning to the tournament which saw them lose heavily to England and also suffer defeat against Italy.
He said: “The Scotland game will be different from England. They have other threats that England don’t have. Their set piece is good, and they have about four or five individuals who are excellent players.”