The news that the extremely talented Beibhinn Parsons would miss the remainder of the Six Nations made the headlines this week on both mainstream and social media.

This really excited me, not because the teenage prodigy would be absent this week when the Irish women's team play England at a sold out Castle Park, Doncaster, but because here we were with women’s rugby back in the headlines for the right reasons.

It would have been decided way before the Six Nations started what Beibhinn’s course of action would be this year, pre-Leaving Cert exams and study would have been put in as a priority.

The fact that she was exceptional in attack for Ireland in the opening two games - a result for both her and the team as a whole and that she came through it all without serious injury - was a blessing for her and her parents.

Beibhinn Parsons was to the fore in the wins over Scotland and Wales

Beibhinn will no doubt have years ahead of her in green and will hopefully be a start in both 15s and 7s as the years progress.

The difference between Beibhinn and the equally talented Jack Crowley,(Ireland Under 20 outhalf) apart from the obvious gender, age, position, is that Jack can dream of making a career out of his talent and one that potentially earn him a substantial salary should he continue on the upward trajectory.

As of now female players in Ireland cannot make a career out of playing rugby. However things are slowly evolving and opportunities are opening up for 7s players, referees and coaches.

This weekend an Irish Under 18 women’s 15s team will gather for the first time and head to Scotland for a training weekend against their Scotitish counterparts.

This is a huge step forward and is made possible by the huge amount of work done behind the scenes in the provinces where the women’s development officers are honing the skills of talented teens.

Some of the talent and rugby on display during the U-18 interpro series this year was of a level equal to what the seniors were displaying a short few years ago.

Right after that preamble we should return to the matter at hand this weekend, playing England in their back yard. 

CJ Stander still the key man for Ireland at the back of the scrum

With two man-of-the-match performances you couldn't shift CJ Stander from the number 8 position where he excelled so Calen Doris must now bide his time on the bench, one hopes when he does come on he gets a greater chance to show all of England what he can do.

England are without the Vinupola brothers, Billy was injured and Mako is unavailable this weekend. Eddie Jones has opted for the wily Joe Marler at loosehead rather than the ever improving Ellis Genge.

Should Genge and Porter end up on the pitch at the same time it could be an interesting battle of power and substance. Elsewhere among his starters Jones has thrust Jonathon Joseph onto the left wing position.

As far as I am aware he has not played any top class matches on the wing and it will be interesting to see if his power and pace can out jump the magnificent leap of Andrew Conway when called upon.

While Ireland are looking revived and refreshed under Andy Farrell England thus far are a shadow of the team that had their nation full of hope and expectation last Autumn.

England proved too good for Ireland in the 2019 Six Nations

They obviously fell at the first hurdle in France and stuttered to victory last time out in a wet and windy Murrayfield however they are a different animal in Twickenham and should they attack Ireland in the same manner they did `in the Aviva last year we will certainly will have a fight on our hands, It is a fight though that I think we are more prepared for 13 months on and one which I am confident we can win.

Just before the men kick off we will know the fate of our female warriors who will, I have no doubt, battled bravely up North in Doncaster. They have already achieved more than last year with two victories in the bag and they will travel to England with more hope than expectation. The soundings from the camp this week is that anything is possible and that they will focus on their own performance and aim to put the Red Roses under pressure when they have the ball.

The thing is that England are likely to have the ball quite a lot and defending a team with the perfect mix of power and pace is extremely tiring both mentally and physically and eventually holes will come. Ireland's scrum has not been quite as solid a last year in it’s opening two games as the new front row partnership of Peat, Moloney and Djougang beds in.

Whatever about the workings of the new combination in the tight they have certainly excelled in the loose working well with ball in hand and both Moloney and Djougang on the score sheet last time out against Wales.

England's Amber Reed speaks with coach Simon Middleton

Simon Middleton, the red roses head coach is taking no chances against the unbeaten Irish.

He is going for the vastly experienced Vicky Cornborough at loosehead and along with Lark Davies and Sarah Bern they will focus the minds of the Irish forwards come scrum time. Bern’s footwork and power with the ball in hand also make her a formidable opponent in the loose.

Middleton has also brought back the 112 times capped Katy Daly McClean to steer the ship from 10. Outside her at 13 England have the magnificent Emily Scarrett and her battle with Sene Naoupu will set the tone for the game.

Adam Griggs has brought in Aoife Doyle for Parsons and Katie Fitzhenry to partner Naoupu in midfield.

There is always hope, however the pragmatist in me will be looking for an Irish team performance with an improved scrum and good integrity in defence.

If they can make England work hard for every ball and every score and can capitalise on their own possession when inside the 22 we will have a good battle on our hands and a good spectacle to watch. I’m sure Parsons will put down the books and watch on like the rest of us.

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