It was an emotionally charged rendition of Ireland’s Call given by the Irish Women’s side for their opening World Cup match against hosts England. Pride, passion and tears were in abundance as the Irish players readied themselves for their biggest challenge under the glare of the TV cameras in front of a partisan home crowd.
This article was changed on 7th May 2020. England scorers names were added as were the two team lists.
Quotes from Eliza Downey and Lauren Day were brought in from separate articles which were discontinued during a site changeover in 2012.
Not that the Ireland were without support, and it was pleasing to see the green shirts and flags throughout the day but the script had been written and the broadcasters, organisers and home crowd got the result they wanted as England overpowered the determined Irish to run out winners by 27 – 0 at the end of a long day of rugby.
Ireland faced a strong wind and an English onslaught in the opening exchanges which ended when Pocock found space out left for the opening try. Katy McLean converted to give England a 7 – 0 lead after 10 minutes.
The England pack continued to dominate but Ireland showed some flashes through Helen Brosnan and Lynne Cantwell and a break by Nora Stapleton created a penalty chance which unfortunately came up short.
Amy Davis came close for Ireland towards the end of the first half but a break from a lineout by the wonderful Maggie Alphonsi ended with Katherine Merchant going over for their second try. McLean missed the conversion to leave the score a 12 – 0 as the teams changed ends.
Ireland’s pack began to make inroads at the start of the third quarter with captain Fiona Coghlan, Claire Molloy and Joy Neville all making ground but Ireland were unable to find that final pass.
England’s Heather Fisher led a charge down field and some quick thinking and a quick penalty saw scrum half Amy Turner score from close range to extend England’s lead to 17 – 0.
The talented Alphonsi clinched the bonus point for England in the closing minutes with a late try to add to a McClean penalty which boosted the final score line in England’s favour to England 27 Ireland 0
ENGLAND WOMEN: Danielle Waterman, Katherine Merchant, Emily Scarratt, Rachael Burford, Fiona Pocock, Katy McLean, Amy Turner, Rochelle Clark, Amy Garnett, Sophie Hemming, Becky Essex, Joanna McGilchrist, Heather Fisher, Maggie Alphonsi, Catherine Spencer (C). Replacements: Claire Purdy, Emma Layland, Sarah Hunter, Charlotte Barras, Tamara Taylor, Alice Richardson, La Toya Mason.
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs, Amy Davis, Joanne O’Sullivan, Lynne Cantwell, Nora Stapleton, Helen Brosnan, Tania Rosser, Fiona Coghlan (c), Gillian Bourke, Louise Austin, Kate O’Loughlin, Marie Louise Reilly, Orla Brennan, Claire Molloy, Joy Neville. Replacements: Shannon Houston, Yvonne Nolan, Sinead Ryan, Laura Guest, Carol Staunton, Louise Beamish, Mairead Kelly.
Lauren Day and Eliza Downey gave us their thoughts on the game.
Watching Fi lead the team out on to the pitch was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, devastated I wasn’t running out there with them yet filled with so much pride to have been a part of it. Let’s just say, the anthems where highly emotional.
The score itself did not reflect the game, we were unlucky not to get some points on the board. The Irish played with passion, determination and should be so so proud of the performance they put into the game.
There are many positives to be taken away from the game. The focus now moves towards the USA on Tuesday, another physical team, but if the girls put on the display of rugby that they put on tonight I have no reason to doubt that we will come away from that game victorious.
27 – 0 didn’t reflect the true course of the game, I’ll be interested to see the breakdown in match statistics and the actual possession that we had. On numerous occasions we had them on the back foot and defending their try line but we just couldn’t convert in the end.
While there were elements to be proud of I know there are several areas of play that caused frustration – unforced errors, mis-tackles and penalty count. These are all factors that can be worked on, the game will be assessed, positives and negatives taken away and certain elements brought into training in the hope to eradicate similar mistakes for the next battle against USA…