Prepare "Response Unit" for the Ould Enemy!
Head Coach Geoff Richards
acknowledged in his interview of March 6th with Rugby Times, that so far
as the Women's Six Nation's was concerned, Scotland would provide the
sternest test for his England Team.
As Scotland have matched England win for win so far, it seemed like a
good idea to check out how the Scottish girls felt about their chances
in the upcoming Women's International against England this Saturday. So,
before checking with the powers that be in Scotland, as one does, I typed
SWRU (Scottish Women's Rugby Union) into Google, and awaited a response.
A nanosecond later I was presented with the aims of the SWRU and they
are as follows:
1. To maintain a kill/death ratio of one to one without using potent weapons;
2. To not lose too badly in the occasional clan war.
But hey! This is rugby not war, and I had ventured onto another website
with the same acronym in error.
So, I proceeded to option two and contacted the SWRU and a few phone calls
later I was talking with the SWRU forwards coach Andy Henderson and was
immediately reassured by his measured and friendly response:
RT: Andy, having won your
first three matches in the women's Six Nations there must be optimism
about a possible Scottish grand slam?
AH: I am optimistic, but England can prepare better than us because of
the funding that they have behind them. Unlike England we don't have full
time players. Our girls have to hold down full time jobs or studies as
well as meeting a tight training schedule. But the new coaching team that
has been introduced this year has really brought the squad together and
they are making very big advances."
RT: Scotland have beaten
Ireland 25-0 and France away from home 19-14 and had a very close result
against the Welsh girls just winning by 9 to 8. But England thrashed the
Welsh in Cardiff by 69 to 7.
AH: The result against Wales was a psychological thing. We beat France
19-14 and it was an absolutely terrific performance by our girls, but
I think that some of the girls must have thought, having beaten France
you are automatically given a ticket to beat Wales. After all France as
a team are very much on the crest and went further than us in the Women's
World Cup last year.
It isn't that the girls had discounted Wales but they hadn't got into
their heads that every international game is a difficult one and there
are no clear cuts as far as winning or losing is concerned. But, to be
realistic, it was probably the best way the result could have gone as
a preparation for our game with England."
RT: From the Scottish
point of view where do you see the strength of the English team?
AH: We have had a good look at the video footage of the England games
and have networked with the other coaches and they (England) haven't been
We will be testing them and they will possibly experience something that
they have yet to experience in the Six Nations. It will be interesting
to find out how they cope with that.
There is no doubt that they are a very competent side and they have great
athletes throughout the team particularly the back three and especially
Chris Diver, who appears to be absolutely on fire, but we will be taking
measures to try and combat that. The English back three is definitely
an area that we will want to shut down if we can and if we succeed it
will be interesting to see what plan they resort to, because they have
never had to resort to anything else."
They have a nice midfield with very good striking abilities. Their number
12 sets targets and Shelley Rae can kick the goals as well as kick from
hand. She has a very good boot."
RT: The Women's Jonny
AH: She links very well but she doesn't really have a go herself and we
know for a fact that if we can get people in her face it affects her game."
What do you see as the strengths of the Scottish team?
AH: We have to acknowledge that upfront is where we shall be trying to
do most of our work. We shall be taking the ball on in small units and
attempting to create disorganisation in the England defence. There is
no point in us producing ball for our backs to run one on one, because
they (England) are a very competent unit in defence as well.
We will really have to be on our game but there will be no need to get
the girls fired up for this game. The Scotland - England thing of old
is self-perpetuating and the fact that this is the "ould enemy"
means that psychologically we will be up for it anyway.
We want to be as ferocious and aggressive as we can upfront because it
is probably the only way that we can guarantee keeping the ball and being
able to produce phases of play. As Geoff Richards has been quoted as saying
(Rugby Times March 6th) "You need to play against the best, and at
the moment, of the Women's Six Nations England are certainly looking like
Andy Henderson's remarks
carry a promise that the England Scotland game will be well contested
and exciting. I just can't wait!
Oh, and by the way, the
SWRU that Google found for me was the STUPID WEAPONS RESPONSE UNIT. Don't
believe me: - Try it yourself!
published in Rugby Times March 20th 2003
THAT ANDY MAY HAVE THE WRONG PERCEPTION OF THE ENGLISH GIRLS! SEE THE
COMMENTS OF GEOFF RICHARDS BELOW:
wrong is the perception that all my England team are full time rugby players.
the twenty two that are in the squad for Saturday's match seventeen are
in full time employment, three work part time, one is a student, and one
is full time rugby but also does some part time work. The vast majority
have to juggle their work and training/playing commitments as do the vast
majority of international women players.
our lottery funding does help our players and allows us to run a good
development program throughout the RFUW. However it is through the sheer
hard work and dedication of our players and staff that we have been able
to achieve the current level of performances and results.
article will give my team plenty of ammunition and they are looking forward
enormously to the challenges of Saturday's match against Scotland.