Six Nations: Bourke returns for Ireland’s Triple Crown bid
Check that AC/DC.
This St Patrick’s Day, the Six Nations Triple Crown is up for grabs for Ireland for very the first time; if Ireland is victorious, and by a margin of 24 points or more, they could win the Six Nations Championship itself. Meanwhile, an unbeaten England will be clamouring for both the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam title.
Head coach, Philip Doyle, has reverted to form and brought back Gillian Bourke to the starting XV’s front row between Ailis Egan and captain, Fiona Coghlan, returning Paula Fitzpatrick to the Replacements.
As ever, England have been dominant in this year’s Championship, and they are the favourites on Saturday. Watch out for skipper and fly-half Katie McLean, and for scrum-half and former-winger Natasha Hunt, according to ScrumQueens.
Yet Ireland have conceded a mere ten points throughout the entire tournament, and lost only one game by a single point (after that now infamous débacle that was their journey to France). The side has also broken several records: the squad’s most-capped-ever player, Lynne Cantwell, has added a further five caps to the tally; the team has amassed the greatest ever number of points and tries in a tournament, among them the record-breaking win against Wales; in three home games, the team has scored 24 tries; right now, Ireland may be on the best points difference they’ve achieved in the Six Nations; the side is also currently second on the Championship table, another first for Ireland.
Following the stuttering start and That Trip To France, Ireland have been determined and clinical. They have consistently learned from their mistakes, and have been increasingly cohesive as a team. That’s no mean feat for a side with a raft of fresh faces and which has effectively had to learn to work together on-the-trot, given that the Six Nations fixtures have been Ireland’s only international test matches since the last Championship over twelve months ago.
So, let’s be optimistic: Ireland’s form against England in the Six Nations hasn’t covered the team in glory, but if Ireland can maintain their stamina, cohesion, mental discipline and clinical execution, they could cause an upset for the home side.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game, Doyle said:
We have been very lucky in this tournament, we haven’t had to make too many changes and the depth in the squad is very strong.
We are very realistic in our outlook and firmly believe we have closed the gap to put in a significant challenge on Saturday.
And skipper, Coghlan, called on her troops to continue their free-scoring ways:
The season has gone really well, we’re a little disappointed with the performance against Scotland but in fairness to them they put everything into it and they made our life hell at times.
To come away with a 20-0 win at the end of the day is a real positive and now we’re looking forward to the England game.
This is probably the most tries we have ever scored and currently we are on the best points difference we have ever been on.
The way we are trying to play is a heads up kind of rugby, we see what’s in front of us and people play in any position moving the ball around and it seems to be working for us.
We need to bring that against England next weekend which we know will be an enormous task.
Our fans have been great and hopefully a few of them will make the trip over to England next week when we go for the Triple Crown.
So watch out, England!
P.S. Now might be a good time to remind readers that the petition to the IRFU is still going (currently at 1247 signatures), and will be handed to the organisation at the end of the month.
It’s probably fair to say that the squad has by now earned the respect they deserve.
For now, though, some more visual goodies:
Philip Doyle speaks following Ireland’s recent win over Scotland.
Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan discusses the team’s latest victory,
and looks ahead to the game against England.
Lynne Cantwell discusses the team’s performance so far as well as
their determination to win the final Six Nations fixture on St Patrick’s Day against England.
And here’s footage from some of Ireland’s previous meetings in Six Nations 2012:
Ireland v Wales
Ireland starting XV and replacements v England:
15. Ashleigh Baxter
14. Niamh Kavanagh
13. Niamh Briggs
12. Grace Davitt
11. Alison Miller
10. Lynne Cantwell
9. Amy Davis
1. Fiona Coghlan (capt)
2. Gillian Bourke
3. Ailis Egan
4. Marie Louise Reilly
5. Sophie Spence
6. Laura Guest
7. Claire Molloy
8. Joy Neville
16. Paula Fitzpatrick
17. Ruth O’Reilly
18. Siobhan Fleming
19. Heather O’Brien
20. Larissa Muldoon
21. Shannon Houston
22. Jennifer Murphy
Ireland 2012 Six Nations fixtures:
† Ireland’s game against England will be streamed live online by the RFU.
Six Nations Table as it stands: