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Six Nations: Coghlan sets a minimum standard for Irish women

Ireland captain, Fiona Coghlan, is eager to get back playing International rugby, signalling that nothing less than third will do.

Fiona Coghlan leads Ireland's Call before last year's Six Nations match against Wales
Fiona Coghlan leads Ireland's Call before last year's Six Nations match against Wales
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IRELAND RUGBY CAPTAIN, Fiona Coghlan, has targetted a repeat of last year’s third place Six Nations finish as the minimum requirement this year.

Last year, the Irish women took the bronze position behind France and an England team which has now won the competition for six years on the trot.

The international squad has not had a competitive outing since last March’s heavy defeat to the English and Coghlan admits that will make it difficult to hit the ground running. But Wales, who visit Ashbourne to kick the tournament off on Friday night, are in the same position.

“We are set as we can be. We will have had four weekends together and there are some new faces in the squad so it will be good to see how they gel with the side in the first game out against Wales,” she told irishrugby.ie and added: ”The Welsh are similar to ourselves in that we haven’t had much time in games to work on things, so I would say we will be fairly even.”

Coghlan is happy with the preparation, but could not disguise her frustration with the absence of international rugby outings over the past 10 months:

“Every team wants more game-time. We haven’t played in a year so we would love to have had but you have to just get on with it. As a player you want to play as many games as possible but that’s what we are dealt with.”

Before taking the side into their pre-tournament camp earlier this month, head coach Philip Doyle spoke of the difficulty caused by the long gap:

“The main reason it is a disadvantage is that we have not had the chance to build partnerships in the team.” Doyle told rbs6nations.com.

“Getting the half-backs and back-row functioning as a unit is crucial. There are a number of half backs I would like to see tested but we will only have the one fixture in which to test combinations.

“It also means compared to the other countries our set-piece will be untried so we will have a lot of work to do in our training camp.”

With one warm-up game now behind them – against an Exiles selection – Coghlan is confident going in against Wales this week and, echoeing the mood from the men’s camp, she is looking forward to facing tough tests away to England and France.

“Finishing third again is something we would hope for as a minimum. We’ve done that the last few years and with our numbers and resources, that’s a good return. This year we’ve got France and England away which is always the tough year of fixtures for us. Both teams are superb at home and France away is probably one of those games where we have never really managed to do ourselves justice.”

“We have managed to beat them at home so we would love to go there and do something special. Their support is phenomenal at home and the show they put on for games is fantastic so that’s a tough one.”

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Sean Farrell

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