England are in the driving seat following their 12-6 victory in Dublin on Saturday and the only unbeaten team remaining in an unpredictable tournament. The defeat at the Aviva Stadium was deflating for Ireland, who have lost Jonathan Sexton and Mike McCarthy to injury for the trip to Murrayfield – but O’Brien refuses to give up hope. “There’s still a lot to play for. The Six Nations is and it isn’t out of our own hands,” the Leinster openside said. “If we leave ourselves in the best possible shape, there will be a slip-up somewhere for the other teams down the line.” Flanker Sean O’Brien insists Ireland must be ready to pounce on any errors by their RBS 6 Nations title rivals when they resume their championship against Scotland. Press Association He added: “Anyone can beat anyone on any day. If we leave ourselves in the best possible position, we can do no more than that.” Ireland will also be missing Cian Healy in Edinburgh after the loosehead prop was banned for three matches for his stamp on England’s Dan Cole. Although there is confusion over whether Healy can play for Leinster on Saturday, he is definitely unavailable against Scotland and France, subject to any successful appeal. Sexton has a grade two hamstring tear that usually requires four to six weeks to heal, making him a major doubt to face France in the penultimate round of fixtures, while McCarthy has damaged the medial ligament of his right knee and will be in a brace for two weeks, at the end of which his fitness will be reassessed. More positive news was received on the remaining injuries incurred during a brutal clash against England. O’Brien, centre Brian O’Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney and lock Donnacha Ryan are at varying degrees of fitness, but all should be available to face Scotland. “We’re looking forward to getting back on the horse against Scotland. It’s a good game for both teams,” O’Brien said. “Our errors, as a team and as individuals, stand out from the England game. They cost us. “A few of them happened within minutes of each other and put us under a bit of pressure and they kicked a couple of scores from that.”
Life as a freshman is never easy.There are roommate issues, homesickness, eating what passes as food at the cafeteria and, of course, joining a team full of award winning players.Maybe not every University of Wisconsin student can relate to that last part, but the three freshmen on the UW women’s hockey team certainly can. They came into their freshman year knowing they were about to join one of the most prestigious female hockey teams in the country.Thankfully, Sophia Shaver, Sam Cogan and Mikaela Gardner had not only each other, but also a team full of girls waiting to help them no matter what. From schoolwork and campus life to tips to help them get their game up to college level, the Wisconsin freshmen had an army of people behind them.Shaver, Cogan and Gardner started their freshman season off with team bonding and trying to find their places on the Wisconsin roster, which includes national team members, future Olympians and a record-breaking goalie. So the team bonded in the best way possible: playing several highly-competitive rounds of laser tag.Gardner, the only defenseman in this year’s class, certainly had her share of things to be intimidated about. Not only was she coming on to one of the greatest defensive cores in the WCHA, but she was also coming in alone with no one to share her nerves. But her fears soon vanished, and she became more comfortable playing alongside the Badger defense.“In the beginning it was intimidating, being the only freshman,” Gardner said. “[Shaver and Cogan] at least had each other. It was definitely really cool and amazing, and they’ve helped me with things, both on and off the ice. But I think that I’ve gotten a lot better just from taking little tips from them, and just kind of watching them in practice or in a game.”As their season progressed, the Badger class of 2019 found their footing and became more comfortable playing alongside their new teammates. They also found their moments to shine, with all three players scoring their first goals within the first two weeks of the season.Of course, the new Badgers had also yet to experience their first Border Battle game against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.Women’s hockey: Johnson looks ahead as Badgers eye redemption in Frozen FourThe Wisconsin women’s hockey team is looking ahead to the matchup with the Minnesota Golden Gophers this week after ending Read…Considering Cogan is from Ottawa, Ontario, and Gardner is from Illinois, Shaver was the only one that really had any idea how intense the rivalry is between the two institutions.Cogan admitted that while she was nervous the first time she met the Gophers on the ice, the nerves were eventually worth it.“I had no idea how crazy [the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry] was and how intense it can be,” Cogan said. “Not only before the game, but during the game, your heart is racing and you’re sweating. But it’s fun. Going in there, still, I get really nervous, but it’s a good nervous.”Cogan went on to score the first goal in the series, which would end with a Wisconsin sweep of the Gophers. A Badger team had not accomplished that feat since 2009.Women’s hockey: No. 2 Wisconsin opens NCAA Tournament against MercyhurstThe No. 2 ranked University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team will fight for the chance to go to the NCAA Frozen Read…The second half of the season saw changes for both Cogan and Shaver, who were placed on new lines. Cogan moved onto a rotation with Emily Clark and Annie Pankowski, and Shaver found herself beside Erika Sowchuk and Baylee Wellhausen.Shaver, who had watched Badger hockey and admired Hilary Knight, was always looking for the chance to make her mark on the program. She wanted someday to see herself on the same wall in the LaBahn Arena as her idol.“I can’t wait to contribute to [the Badger program],” Shaver said. “With how great this program has been, I can’t wait to have my own part in it and grow with the program.”Now, as they enter their final weekend of the season, all three freshmen find themselves preparing for the NCAA Frozen Four tournament. While they may be newcomers to the game, their team has a bitter history, one that for the past two years has ended in losses to Minnesota.Seeing how hard her team has worked to change the outcome of past Frozen Four games pushed Shaver to do well this post-season. Shaver watched last year’s semi-final game, and doesn’t want the same thing to happen this year.“Coming from them,” Shaver said, “I can see how much they want this, so it makes me want it that much as well. I was at that game, watching. Seeing that made me not want it to happen to us this year.”Whether they win or lose, one thing is certain: the Badger class of 2019 has a first season under their belts that most players can only dream of.