Louis Deacon shared in some of Leicester Tigers’ greatest successes as a player and he returns to Mattioli Woods Welford Road as an international coach on Sunday.
Former Tigers and England second-rower Deacon is now part of the England Women’s coaching team as they head to Leicester for a Six Nations fixture against Ireland.
It is the first women’s international fixture hosted by Tigers in 25 years and Deacon says the players have earned the opportunity.
“I was very happy when it was announced we would have a game here in the Six Nations,” says Deacon, who has previously coached with England Under-20s and at Coventry.
“I hope we can get a really good crowd supporting the girls, they deserve that. With the support base Tigers has got, I’m sure that will happen.”
Deacon was part of Tigers’ double European champion squads and won six Premiership titles, so he knows what it means to be No1 and how difficult it is to stay there.
“My first experience with this group was in the autumn and we won all the four games convincingly,” he says.
“When you are Number 1, it is all about staying Number 1 but also about growing our game and improving as a squad.
“We feel we’ve got a lot of growth and want to get better. If we stand still, teams will catch us up.
“You can’t get complacent, we are there to be shot at.”
England stretched their unbeaten run to 21 Tests with victory over Wales last time out, with Leicestershire’s Emily Scarratt scoring her 50th international try in her 99th appearance. Supporters will be hoping she can reach another landmark at her hometown club.
“The women’s game is constantly improving and an opportunity to work with a Number 1 team appealed to me,” says Deacon on his introduction to international women’s rugby.
“I wanted to try something different, take on a new challenge and continue to learn as a coach.
“Women’s rugby is growing at such an incredible rate, it’s exciting that games are going to places like Leicester Tigers and Gloucester in the Six Nations, and the team has played at Exeter, Northampton, Harlequins and Worcester in the autumn.
“They’ve been very well supported, there is a lot of excitement around matchdays as well.
“The organisers put on a really good occasion.
“These games can be a lot more open than the men’s, there is more opportunity of a more open game and that makes it exciting.
“It is great that Leicester Tigers are building their own women’s team now, it should hopefully bring a lot more interest for the younger generation.
“My own girls have never seen anything like it – during the autumn they went around getting autographs and stuff and they loved it. It inspired them and hopefully it inspires others too.”
Tickets for England versus Ireland are available now at the Tigers ticket office. Book online or phone 0116 319 8888 (option 2).
Matchday hospitality packages are also available now, call the team on 0116 2171 215.