Irish rugby head coach Scott Bemand had his side singing during their record win over Kazakhstan last week, and he’s hoping to maintain that symphony when they take on Colombia in the second round of the XV3 series on Saturday.
Joined by one of his co captains, Sam Monaghan, at a press conference this morning, he reflected on the dominant 109-0 display, as well as emphasising his “blended approach to growing the game” that underpins his team selection.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 19, 2023
“There’s a bit of a continuation where you want to build some consistency but you need to grow a little bit. So we’re on plan,” he says, referencing the three debuts he gave to Leinster’s Sarah Delaney, Megan Collis and Eimear Corri in the last game, and the upcoming first cap he’s anticipated to award Fiona Tuite in their next outing.
“Winning is habitual, but you’ve got to get your processes right…We’ve sort of been talking about the training quite a bit and It feels good to actually put something out on the pitch” he says.
“At this point we focus quite a lot on ourselves. A lot of people are mentioning the score vs Kazakhstan. Winning is important but probably of greater importance to us was the performance, which we’re really happy with.”
While the competition factor within the tournament itself might not meet Ireland’s standard, Bemand also made clear he’s adamant to maintain that element of contest within their camp.
“How we blood players is a combination of wanting to get people game time but actually how we build an identity for ourselves” he says.
“We’ve become a really tough team (a) to play against and (b) to get into. So it’s going after that competitive element both in training and selection.
“So first of all a big congratulations to the girls that have made the 30 to come here, we’ve left some great girls back in Ireland. The next thing is we want to be a really tough 23 to break into.”
“I’m having some great conversations this morning with players about how you get into the matchday squad” he adds.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 16, 2023
Asked what his biggest surprise was since coming into the role, Bemand was assured in his thought that the current set up was going to “produce some rockstars”, in more ways than one.
“The singing” he laughs, pointing to the evolving bond within the team.
“It’s actually a really good barometer,” he says.
“We know we’re pushing people pretty hard in training and how quickly people bounce back, on the physical side and the mental emotional side. This is a really good group, a really bonded group.
“I wouldn’t say that’s a surprise but it's a good thing for a new coach to see and feel.
“You don't get that instantaneously, you’ve got to build it and build those bonds.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 13, 2023
The changes Scott Bemand has implemented according to Sam Monaghan
Scott Bemand ’s co-captain Sam Monaghan credits him in being instrumental to fostering that relationship between the players, but also for the transformation on the pitch in this new era .
In between tough training sessions, recovery, tactical preparation and matches, Monaghan says the squad enjoy walks, coffee and acai bowls, and who could forget…singing.
“We have this game on the bus where one side is against the other and it’s like a riff off” she smiles.
“We sing a song and then you pick a word out of that song and the other side sings it.
“We’ve actually got some very good singers on the team, Maeve Óg [O’Leary], she’s a very good singer, she’s got a good beat too. Some of us aren’t so good but we still try anyways!”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 18, 2023
On the pitch Monaghan believes their “consistency in game model” is the biggest change under Scott Bemand, one that has them humming along nicely in the XV3 series and that they’d like to translate to the Six Nations when the time comes.
“We’re very clear in what our roles are and in how we pull that across the pitch as well,” she says.
“Scott’s quite open and honest and you can pull him for those conversations which is great for any player to feel like they can go up to their head coach and feel like they can have a casual conversation about selection.
“I think that clarity has been the biggest thing and gives us the confidence that we are good rugby players and that this new training identity we have means we’re very competitive on the pitch as well.”
Ireland will aspire to maintain that melody against Colombia now on Saturday at 2 o'clock, with the game available to watch live on Rugby Pass and Scott Bemand ’s team shaping up as follows;
Ireland: Méabh Deely; Béibhinn Parsons, Eve Higgins, Aoife Dalton, Natasja Behan; Nicole Fowley, Aoibheann Riley; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney; Eimear Corri, Sam Monaghan (co-capt); Grace Moore, Edel McMahon (co-capt), Brittany Hogan.
Replacements: Sarah Delaney, Niamh O’Dowd, Megan Collis, Fiona Tuite, Dorothy Wall, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, Dannah O’Brien, Leah Tarpey.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 13, 2023