Today see’s the final matches in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup and what a fantastic advertisement it has been for the women’s game. Ireland’s win against New Zealand kicked the championship wide open and will live long in the memory but I think even that match was topped by the France v Canada semi-final. WOW!
The Canadians now take on England in what should be a fascinating final but Ireland still have much to play for as they compete against hosts, France, for third place. Both matches will be held at the Stade Jean Bouin, Paris, with Ireland v France kicking off at 3:30pm UK/IRE and the England v Canada match following at 5:45pm UK/IRE.
Ireland will be determined to finish the tournament on a high, after the disappointment of the semi-final against England, but win, lose of draw they will want to put in a big performance not just for themselves but also for departing head coach Philip Doyle who has driven and nurtured this team to their unprecedented success.
Doyle, as usual, has kept changes to the minimum with only two changes to the panel that faced England. The concussed Lynne Cantwell misses out on a final farewell, with Grace Davitt moving in one and Jenny Murphy stepping up from the bench to slot in at outside centre. Heather O’Brien still carrying a knock and drops to the bench with Paula Fitzpatrick switching to No. 8 and Siobhan Fleming coming on at blindside.
It’s a close call but I would have preferred to see Larissa Muldoon start at scrum half as
I think “Larry” is fractionally quicker at getting the ball away and Tania Rosser could have a decisive impact coming on later in the game but as I said it’s a marginal call and at this level the game isn’t going to be won or lost by individual performances.
The girls are going to have to rediscover their tremendous work ethic, that they so dramatically and uncharastically lost against England, and personally I’d like to see them open up a bit more, something they promised before the finals. The Canadians showed the way against the French but to date Ireland have failed to fully utilise their fantastic back three, struggling to find space out wide and leaving Briggs, Miller and Baxter toiling in areas with heavy traffic.
Having blown it so spectacularly against the old enemy Ireland now have nothing to lose and with the pressure off we will, hopefully, see a wider game. The great unknown however is how the French will respond to their heartbreaking loss to Canada?
It’s a hard one to call but I’m going to let the heart firmly overrule the head and go for an Ireland win in a high scoring game. #COYGIG