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.”

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine