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'It's nice to give something back': Ross joins Ireland coaching team for Women's Six Nations

The former Ireland and Leinster prop hopes to impart some of his vast knowledge and experience on the squad.

Ross has been appointed as scrum coach for the Six Nations.
Ross has been appointed as scrum coach for the Six Nations.
Image: Luke Duffy/INPHO

ALTHOUGH HE HAS taken up the position of scrum coach with the Ireland women’s team for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign, Mike Ross insists professional coaching is not for him as he continues his transition into ‘civilian’ life.

After hosting a session with Railway Union RFC before Christmas, the former Ireland and Leinster prop was approached by the IRFU to join Adam Griggs’ new coaching ticket for the 2018 championship.

Following yesterday’s first squad meet-up, Ross will host five or six scrum sessions with the Ireland forwards ahead of their campaign opener against France on 3 February in what is a significant boost for the squad coming off the back of a dismal World Cup last summer.

“I did that session with Railway Union and that went down well,” Ross explains to The42.

“I got a call from Anthony Eddy [IRFU director of women's and sevens rugby] a few weeks later and thought why not? It’s a nice thing to do, to give something back. The whole country is disappointed with how the World Cup went but if I can play a part in getting better it’ll be great.

“I think Greg Feek had something to do with it, I’m still in contact with him. Both our kids are in Bective and I’d see him at mini rugby.”

Since hanging up his boots after a decorated playing career which saw him win 61 Ireland caps and 151 appearances for Leinster, Ross took up a position with Dublin-based technology firm Wizuda, but has remained in touch with rugby through a player/coach role with Malahide RFC and a mentoring role with some of Leinster’s age-grade forwards.

While his new day job demands the majority of his working week, the 38-year-old was happy to accept the invitation from the IRFU as he sees it as an opportunity to impart some of his vast knowledge and experience to the next generation of players.

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“I can give them the time where I have it and it’s quite doable as they don’t take many people to away games,” he explains.

“I don’t want to do it full time, though. Because the thing about professional coaching is that your general life expectancy in a job is four years so you live a nomadic lifestyle.

Mike Ross Ross called time on his professional playing career at the end of last season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I’m quite settled in Dublin with my family and wouldn’t be interested in that — but I do like working with young players and being able to help them get better and grow. I do get a kick out of that.”

Ross, along with Jeff Carter, complete the new-look coaching team following the departure of Tom Tierney as head coach after the disastrous World Cup campaign on home soil.

The Cork native met up with the squad for the first time over the weekend and although admitting there is an element of doom and gloom currently hanging over the women’s game because of the fallout from the World Cup, said he was very impressed with the players’ attitude and commitment on the training paddock.

“They’re very coachable,” Ross continues. “They figured it out, took it up and delivered on what I had told them straight away. I can’t fault their commitment and dedication and they were all very enthusiastic to work hard and learn.

“A lot of scrummaging is about body awareness so if I’m saying, for example, you need your pelvis tilted in this direction, sometimes players aren’t sure what you mean but a lot of it you can explain and get across. I’ve picked up simple pointers to do that through the years.

“I’ll have five or six sessions with them but won’t be there every training session as they won’t be scrummaging all the time. I can go through training plans and review sessions from the comfort of my laptop and study what we need to work on for the next session or match.”

Ireland open their Six Nations against France in Toulouse a little over three weeks from today before home games at Donnybrook against Italy, Wales and Scotland. They finish their campaign against England at the Ricoh Arena on St Patrick’s weekend.

On Ross’ appointment, Eddy said: “Mike is a great addition to the coaching team. Having played at the top level of the game for province and country, his technical expertise of the scrum is second to none and he will be an excellent mentor for the players.”

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