Lucia Linn raring to make her mark and follow in the footsteps of her heroes

The Women's Summer Series gets underway in Parma as the stars of tomorrow begin their international journeys

By Joe Harvey

Budding Ireland women’s rugby prospect Lucia Linn is proof of the impact the 2017 Rugby World Cup had in the country as she prepares for a landmark competition of her own.

The 19-year-old centre was inspired to pick up the sport at Dolphin RFC in Cork after the World Cup came to Ireland seven years ago and she has since enjoyed a whirlwind rise.

Based in England, where she plays for Loughborough Lightning, Linn has been named in the Ireland Under-20s squad for the inaugural Women’s Summer Series in Italy.

It comes two years after the launch of the Six Nations Under-18s Festival, giving Linn the chance to forge her own path as she eventually seeks to match the exploits of some of her Lightning teammates.

“I genuinely fan-girled over (England centre) Emily Scarratt,” Linn said. “I’m still not over it.

“I actually have a picture with her from that World Cup and I am yet to show it to her because I’m too embarrassed.

“You never get over how cool it is to be in the environment with them.

“Especially as all the backs are stars, like (Scotland playmaker) Helen Nelson. They’re all super helpful because they’re so experienced.

“They’ve worked up the ranks and they’ve played the women’s game, maybe when the standard wasn’t as high and people weren’t watching as much, it is nice to get their point of view and to learn from them.”

Having made her senior debut for Loughborough at just 17, Linn is a talented prospect.

That has seen her selected by Niamh Briggs for the Summer Series, with Linn and her teammates preparing at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Dublin.

Playing three games in the space of 10 days, Ireland will begin their campaign against England at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, before taking on Italy and Scotland.

On the eve of the of her team’s first game in the groundbreaking tournament, there is much anticipation for Linn.

“It is always exciting getting the opportunity to represent your country,” Linn said.

“I think it is even more exciting to know that this is the first time that the Under-20s have properly had a Six Nations, and to know that this tournament can only build from here.

“There are a lot of girls in our squad that this is actually their first time wearing the jersey and representing their country.

“There’s a lot of nerves, but we have a lot of guys that did this last year, so it is important as a group to pull each other along and make sure everyone is as excited.

“Walking around the HPC in Dublin, you see the senior team, it really drives you on.

“It really makes you want to push on and make you feel like you could get there.”

The Women’s Summer Series is available to fans all over the world via exclusive coverage on the Six Nations U20 YouTube channels, with supporting coverage across dedicated U20 Six Nations social media channels.