Richmond have enlisted the army’s help as they aim to break into the top half of the Tyrrells Premier 15s this season.
They face a tough start when they play derby rivals Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday in one of the sport’s oldest rivalries in a game expected to be full of physicality.
But while coach Mike Panoho is under no illusions it is a tricky match to begin the campaign, he hopes to improve on back-to-back seventh place finishes having taken his team on pre-season training camps with the army and in Poland.
“It’s a tough start, but it’s been a good pre-season and we’re really looking forward to getting out there,” he said.
“We play in one of the top leagues in the world, so we wanted to provide an environment where the players become better people and better rugby players.
“We came seventh last year, but we missed out on a couple of games by two or three points and in some games we didn’t step up to the mark in terms of defence so that’s something we’ve rectified in pre-season.
“Top six is going to be doable and if we put in a good performance here, I think we’re in a good place.”
Richmond captain Hannah field (pictured above) has previously said the unity of the team could be a big factor in their success this season.
They face a very strong Quins side littered with internationals, but Quins head coach Gary Street knows it won’t be an easy game.
“They’re going to come out the blocks fast,” he said.
“They’ve rejigged the coaching staff and they’ve got a great coaching set-up. It’s going to be really quick and the conditions will be suited to that.
“I think it will be interesting for people that haven’t seen women’s rugby before that think it’s a softer version of the men’s game.
“It’s going to be very competitive, very tough and an incredibly physical game, and both sides will be prepared for that.”
Quins have lost in the final of the competition to Saracens in the previous two years and Street is planning on making it third time lucky.
“The goal is to win it this season,” he added.
“We’re not shy about the fact that that’s our goal. We’ve come up short twice and the motivation to win it is huge.”
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