Every moment is really special and every bit of playing time is precious

With Ireland on the brink of another championship Sophie Spence is relishing every minute.

Sophie Spence drives through the Wales' defence.
Sophie Spence drives through the Wales' defence.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

SOPHIE SPENCE OWES a lot to the man she calls ‘Goose’.

After all, Philip Doyle is the coach who first brought the powerful lock into the Ireland set-up after spotting her at an Exiles training camp.

With Doyle stepping aside after guiding Spence and company to a Grand Slam and a World Cup semi-final — not to mention the small matter of a win over New Zealand en-route to the final four — many expected 2015 to be a transitional season for the Irish team.

However, under new head coach Tom Tierney, Ireland are on the brink of a second championship with, potentially, victory over Scotland enough to secure the title this weekend and Spence admits she’s enjoying every fleeting moment of it.

“With the change of management and things it has been a slow process to get to know new people coming in, getting to know management and what style they want to play. So I kind of think it’s been a slow process for us to build this year and get used to each other.

“We don’t have that long together so every moment is really special and every bit of playing time is precious. We’re in a brilliant position. I’m not sure if anyone knew we were going to be in this position, it’s going to be a surprise to other people as well.

“But again it comes down to the performance we put in on Sunday and not getting ahead of ourselves — we’ve got to put in a performance.

“Italy did us a favour last weekend. We did a good job with Wales, not letting them in, but it’s good to know we’re the last game to be played.

“We’ll know what we have to do and then it’s all about our own performance and on that day if we give that performance, hopefully we’ll be successful.”

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Spence is no longer involved with the Sevens set-up so is based in Ireland full-time after spending the last few years ferrying over and back to Newcastle with the reduced form of the game.

However, far from twiddling her thumbs, the extra free time has given the 28-year old an opportunity to consider her role in rugby after she hangs up her boots.

“[I'm working as] Rugby Development Officer for DCU. My hours are quite flexible so I can work in my coaching and things I’m doing around my training. It’s good thing to be involved in because you can pull people in to the sport as well.

“I was with Leinster last year and moved to DCU at the end of the summer. I’m coaching the girls and the amount of girls coming in is really good.

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“Just keep pulling in the numbers, getting them from different sports. it does help, I’ve had some of the [international] girls down coaching as well.

“It brings that interest to us – it’s something that girls can actually see. And they’re starting a bit younger than what I did and they’re showing that potential and if they can develop from a younger age they could be wearing the green jersey in a few years time.”

As for this year’s championship, Spence does not believe Ireland will take anything for granted, even if they have already faced the tournament’s big two.

“I would never say pressure off. Probably more pressure. One thing Tom said last week was live in the occasion, don’t let pressure be a bad thing for you’.

“Pressure could be a good a good or bad thing depending on how individuals take it. We know what we have to do, but we have to actually execute that, play as a team and put our structures in place instead of… d’y'know, it can be easily messed up.”

Additional reporting from Sean Farrell. 

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