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Monday 18 December 2017

Confident and classy – women's team set to make it a historic double

Ireland's Fiona Hayes and Stacey Lea Kennedy
Ireland's Fiona Hayes and Stacey Lea Kennedy
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

ENGLAND may have vowed to turn Twickenham into a fortress – but they have not reckoned on the combined force of the Irish men and women.

While the lads might be first out on the pitch, the green army will stay in their seats – and tuned in at home – to watch the women battle it out with equal class and vigour.

RTE will be providing live coverage as the women also chase the Triple Crown, with kick-off at 6.20pm after the men's game.

And when the Irish women's rugby team stride on to the famous pitch, it will represent the culmination of a decade's work. The first and only time they played here, back in 2004, they were the underdogs.

Now, they come to the home of English rugby as defending Grand Slam champions.

Confident, unbeaten and with the Triple Crown in their sights, the women's team has won 10 out of their last 11 games in the Six Nations.

But that doesn't mean the excitement has dimmed. Far from it.

Full-back Niamh Briggs took to Twitter yesterday to bask in the green of the Twickenham pitch, saying: "So cool getting to kick here earlier... pitch is class! Can't wait for tomorrow's game #excited."

Victory did not come easy over Wales two weeks ago and they will have to stand strong against a potentially dangerous counter-attack by the English side.

The loss of Joy Neville has been likened by coach Philip Doyle to the men's squad losing Jamie Heaslip because of her skill-set and 'rugby brain.'

Joy retired with 70 caps after celebrating the Grand Slam win – and will be commentating today for RTE alongside Ryle Nugent.

Irish Independent

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