Six Nations 2014: Chris Robshaw's men to walk among the faithful at Twickenham to crank up support during Ireland test

The England captain says the fans will play a major part at Twickenham

It is not difficult to remember times when England rugby supporters yearned to see less of the red rose players rather than more, the benighted 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand being the most recent example. Things will be very different at Twickenham this weekend, with the captain Chris Robshaw and his colleagues heading for the dressing room on foot rather than on the team bus, going up close and personal with the supporters in the process.

England must beat Ireland on Saturday if they are to stand an earthly of winning the Six Nations title and Robshaw, egged on by head coach Stuart Lancaster, is keen to crank up the support level as much as humanly possible. To that end, the team will leave the bus in the west car park, well ahead of the Lion Gate, instead of disembarking inside the concourse.

“Twickenham and the crowd is a massive factor for us,” Robshaw explained. “We want to do a slightly longer walk because the supporters give us such a lift.”

Robshaw has previous when it comes to walking through the throng rather than driving through it. When he and his fellow Harlequins reached the Premiership grand final in 2012, they walked to Twickenham from their home ground at The Stoop, on the far side of the A316. It was not exactly the equivalent of the Pennine Way – the distance covered was no more than a quarter of a mile – but the Londoners drew considerable strength from the experience.

“By the time we reached the stadium,” said Ugo Monye, the international wing, after the triumph over Leicester, “we felt we were the ones with the biggest balls. I knew there would be some supporters along the way but I had no idea there would be so many.”

Cynics might scoff at the desperation of it, but the idea of teams connecting with the public ahead of kick-off is not a new one. During their glory years, the Bath players habitually walked to the Recreation Ground after a group discussion at a hotel in the city centre; Toulon do something similar in the south of France – and they are the reigning European champions. Under the “every little helps” principle, it is a plan worth pursuing.

With Dan Cole, their senior tight-head prop, unavailable because of a neck injury – the Leicester forward will be off-limits for the rest of the campaign, including the three-Test series with the All Blacks in June – a lot of planning is going on in the England ranks. David Wilson, the Bath front-rower, would be perfectly capable of filling in for Cole under normal circumstances, but he has been suffering from orthopaedic issues of his own and has had only 47 minutes of competitive rugby since the turn of the year.

“I have no idea how long I’ll be able to play,” the Tynesider admitted. “I want to do as well as possible for as long as possible – maybe 50 or 60 minutes. If I get through that and perform reasonably strongly, I’ll be happy. I would have liked one more club game to get my match fitness up, but that’s the way it goes.”

Robshaw acknowledged that the sudden disappearance of Cole was a blow. “Of course it is,” he said. “When you lose someone of Dan’s class and experience, it’s never ideal. But you have to adapt and David has always played well for us. A lot has been spoken about the experience of the Ireland players – the Brian O’Driscolls, the Paul O’Connells, the Jamie Heaslips – but we’ve been around long enough to perform well against the biggest names in world rugby. We’ll play the people in front of us, not their reputations.”

Ireland stand on the brink of a Triple Crown, having thrashed Scotland and Wales in the opening two rounds. But both those games were in Dublin. The last time O’Driscoll and company visited Twickenham on Six Nations business, they conceded 30 points. “We’re in a great position, but we know how hard this will be,” said Conor Murray, their Lions scrum-half. “This is definitely our toughest test so far.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments