Ireland cannot afford to lose any of their matches in this year’s Women’s Six Nations due to the new format, according to captain Ciara Griffin.
The championship will comprise of two pools of three this year, where Ireland will play Wales and France before playing a nation from the other pool in their final match.
Griffin was speaking at the virtual media launch of the 2021 Women’s Six Nations and stressed the added importance of each fixture as a result of the new shortened format.
? We have lift off!
— Women’s Six Nations (@Womens6Nations) March 30, 2021
“It’s great obviously to get the matches with the pandemic and everything. This new format is different for us. Every match is a cup final. You want to go out and win every match,” Griffin explained.
“You need to go out and win every match when you go out there. There’s no [second] chances, which is what you need. It’s going to be very exciting rugby in this competition. I can’t wait.
“We’ll relish this format for the moment and make the most of it. But hopefully next year we’ll be back to the regular format of all the matches.”
‘We’ve been champing at the bit for nearly six months’
Ireland have played just one test match in the last 13 months, as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Their most recent game was against Italy in October 2020, while their last game before that was against England in February.
Griffin praised her team’s attitude towards the difficulties they have endured over the last year, while explaining their eagerness to get back out onto the pitch.
“We can’t wait. We’ve been champing at the bit for nearly six months waiting to play. A lot of work has been done in camps as a group,” Griffin said.
“We want to get going and play some rugby and play a test match. We all can’t wait. We’re very happy with our preparation and with the work we’ve done. Now we just want to take to the field and play.
“I won’t lie, it’s been a tough few months in terms of the ups and downs and the uncertainty of matches, of playing and not playing.
“The girls have been phenomenal. I just can’t commend this group enough. They are the most resilient and most dedicated group you’ll ever meet. Their commitment to the jersey is second to none.”
Griffin on a potential women’s Lions team
Insurance company Royal London recently announced that they are funding a feasibility study into the prospect of a women’s British and Irish Lions team, in what could come as a major boost to women’s rugby.
While players from all four nations have welcomed the prospect of a women’s Lions team, there are concerns over the potential makeup of the squad.
England are currently the only professional team out of the four Lions nations, and have dominated their local rivals in recent years.
We are a ‘Principal Partner’ of the Women’s Lions Programme and will be funding a study which will examine whether a Lions women’s team could be formed – @MaggieAlphonsi welcomes our support via @SkySports https://t.co/BCcsiWcOTK
— Royal London (@RoyalLondon) March 24, 2021
This has led to fears that any Lions squad could be made up of mostly English players, with amateur players from Ireland, Scotland and Wales struggling to compete with their professional counterparts.
Griffin was unconcerned with such a possibility, however, and insisted that each and every player would perform to their potential whether or not a Lions team is formed.
“It’s great to hear that they are considering a Lions squad. I understand now that it is just a feasibility study at the moment but I’m looking forward to seeing what does happen if it goes ahead,” Griffin commented.
“Every nation goes out to put in their best performance and put their best foot forward. I think every team out there is going to put their hand up in this campaign, regardless of a Lions tour or not.
“A lot of teams have put a lot on the line this year in terms of commitments and postponements so they all want to go out and play. So I think every player would put their hands up if that Lions tour did go ahead.”