I’ve been hearing whispers about Railway Union’s Eve Higgins all season but it wasn’t until we caught up with the Ireland Women’s Sevens team at the Paris leg of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series in June that I finally got a chance to see this prodigious talent in action for the first time.
As I’ve said before, staring down a long lens with the players running at you in close crop you really get to see the determination and concentration on the players faces and, as myself and our other photographer, Beth Cregan, snapped away at the Ireland Women’s side in their five matches, we both commented on the determination, concentration and, above all, confidence on this young players face as she went head to head with the greats in Women’s Sevens rugby.
It’s been a remarkable debut season for Higgins who only turned 19 a few weeks ago. She appeared in 23 matches, out of a total of 27, throughout the series, scoring three tries in the process. It would be interesting to see her stats for offloads as her powerful runs and offloads in the centre of the park appeared to be one of Ireland’s main attacking weapons in this series.
After Paris, Higgins was part of the Ireland team that finished third in the first round of the European Rugby Women’s Sevens Grand Prix in Marcoussis, France, a tournament that Ireland used as a final warm up to the World Cup.
I got the chance to interview Higgins on Friday night after a Q & A for the Ireland Men and Women Sevens teams at Railway Union before they head off to San Francisco for the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in what should be the biggest Rugby World tournament this year.
I started off by asking Eve how she enjoyed the World Series tournament in Paris last month?
We can take a lot of positives from it. We didn’t necessarily get where we wanted to be but after the first day when we did not reach the quarterfinals [of the main Cup competition] the best thing we could have done after that was to win the bowl so we are happy with that. Everyone got a lift out of beating Russia for the first time.
Paris is a wonderful city, it’s a great city to be at and we all had good fun.
Looking forward to the World Cup, you have a difficult game against England in the first round of the competition. How have preparations gone?
We had a good turnout at Marcoussis. France and Russia had strong teams and it allowed us to keep our sevens game rolling. We know England fairly well, we’ve played them a good few times, so we know what we have to do.
This World Cup is different from other tournaments it’s basically make or break straight from the beginning so we are obviously targeting that game [against England] to come away with a victory.
Yes, it’s a brutal competition with every round a knockout round. If you lose to England you will drop out of the Championship Cup into the Challenge Trophy. Have Ireland been tempted to target the Challenge Trophy rather than the Championship Cup?
No. We are not thinking about that, we do not want to be in the Challenge Trophy we want to be in the Championship Cup.
So, any specific tactics for beating England?
Not to give anything away, but kick offs is one of the biggest factors and Emily Scarratt [England] is one of the best catchers at restarts and we know that. We were pleased with the work we did in Marcoussis and we’ve been working on that.
Obviously after every score there is a restart and every restart is important so we definitely want to execute the restarts as best we can. I think we improved this aspect in the Euros.
What do you hope to get out of the World Cup personally?
It’s obviously my first World Cup, as it is for a lot of players with the last World Cup being five years ago. I really want to enjoy the whole experience. Individually we not only want to show why we’ve been picked for the World Cup but collectively we want to show the World that Ireland is a team to be reckoned with. We have something to prove and we want to stand out in this World Cup.
We finished off the interview with a pop quiz to get to know a little more of the person behind the player.
- If you were a crayon what colour would your be? Purple
- One Direction or Take That? Neither! [Rather emphatically lol.]
- Batman or Spiderman? Spiderman.
- Favourite song for motivation? I’m not really one for the headphones before the game but I’d say Lose Yourself by Eminem.
- Worst trainer in the squad? Everyone is brilliant!
- Worst roomie? I’ve only had one roomie and that’s Louise Galvin and she’s the best roomie you could possibly have!
- Squad nickname? My name is pretty short so I don’t have one.
- What is your favourite game that you have played in to date? The game against Russia in Pais, it was so intense.
The experts (if there is such a thing in crayon colours 😯 ) say that, “people who prefer purple as their favorite color are dignified and regal in how they carry themselves and in their actions”. There must be something in it as Higgins carries herself with great dignity on and off the pitch. A pleasure to watch on the pitch and a delight to interview off it.
The Front Row Union wish Eve and Team Ireland all the best for the upcoming Rugby World Cup Sevens.