Ireland women’s head coach Bemand believes his players can cause headaches for England

Damage limitation is not the message Bemand will be giving his troops for their Six Nations clash at Twickenham

While the tag of underdogs will be heavily applied to the team in the lead-up to the game, Ireland women’s head coach Scott Bemand believes his players are more than capable of causing headaches for England in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday.

Formerly the attack coach of the English women’s side from 2015 to 2023 – a period that saw them accumulating six Championship titles and five Grand Slams – Hereford native Bemand has been at the Irish helm since July of last year.

Following earlier defeats at the hands of France and Italy, he finally recorded his first Six Nations win as a head coach in Cork’s Musgrave Park last Saturday, when Ireland claimed an emphatic 36-5 bonus point triumph over Wales.

This result came as a welcome boost for an Irish side that also claimed the inaugural WXV 3 title in Dubai last October, and although damage limitation is often spoken about whenever Ireland come up against England in a women’s rugby international, this isn’t the message that Bemand will be giving to his troops in the coming days.


“We’ll go after firing our shots, getting our game out there. Part of the stepped approach, from where we were to where we want to get to, is we’re going to need to win some moments in this game. You talk around breaking the game down and you go after your first moments,” Bemand remarked at a press conference in the IRFU’s High Performance Centre on Tuesday.

“We know some capabilities that England have got. We know our girls are advancing pretty quickly in terms of what they can do. We’ll go after our game, and we’ll go after trying to cause England some headaches.”

For the duration of Bemand’s time with England, former cross-codes rugby star Simon Middleton served as head coach of the side. In the build-up to their meeting against Ireland in Cork last year he acknowledged there was a need to make the games in the Six Nations more competitive.

The Red Roses went on to defeat Ireland 48-0 in the Leeside venue, before Middleton signed off on his reign with a 24th consecutive Six Nations victory in the final round of the tournament – at the expense of main challengers France.

There seems to be no sign of England slowing down under Middleton’s successor John Mitchell, emphasised by the fact they have amassed 140 points (and conceded just 10) in the opening three rounds of the championship.

Yet Bemand has insisted it is up to the remaining teams in the tournament to get themselves up to England’s level, and while it isn’t something that is expected to happen overnight he is hopeful Ireland will become more of a force in the next few years.

“England have got to focus on what England do. It’s not up to them to play down to other teams. They’ve got to focus on us and it’s up to us to get after our own performances, our own playing pool, our style of play, how we train for it. Are we doing that? I would say we are,” said Bemand.

“It was one of the reasons I took the job. If I didn’t think it was being gone after in a serious way I wouldn’t be here. Plaudits to the IRFU for supporting it. It has to start somewhere. It’s making ground pretty quick because we know what we’re going after. England have got to focus on England. The rest of us have got to focus on us, and we are trying to close that gap as quickly as we can.”