France Women lifted the 2018 Six Nations championship on Friday night, completing a Grand Slam with their 3 – 38 win against Wales. The new champions and England Women confirmed their status as the top two sides in Europe by dominating this series from start to finish, England finishing in second place after a 33 – 11 win against Ireland.
England (19) 33
TRY: Danielle Waterman, Marlie Packer, Amy Cokayne, Ellie Kildunne, Amber Reed
CON: Katy Daley-McLean (4)
Ireland (6) 11
TRY: Claire Molloy
PEN: Hannah Tyrrell, Niamh Briggs
The game was part of a double header with the respective U20 sides giving a record crowd for a Women’s Six Nations match in England at the Ricoh Arena.
England took an 11th-minute lead through a Danielle Waterman try, the experienced fullback becoming England’s leading try scorer in the act. Ireland hit back moments later with Hannah Tyrrell knocking over a penalty.
Ireland battled hard but failed to execute and England raced to a 19- 3 lead with tries from Marlie Packer and Amy Cockayne, both off the back otf mauls as the English pack took charge. Katy Daley-McLean converted both.
A late penalty from Niamh Briggs gave Ireland a glimmer of hope as the teams changed ends with the score at 19 – 6.
Ireland were more competitive for much of the second half but a try from Ellie Kildunne, converted by McLean, at the end of the third quarter assured the home sides bonus point win.
This was rubber stamped early in the final quarter as replacement Amber Reed sprinted clear for England’s fifth, again converted by McLean.
Ireland continued to push for a score and were rewarded in the closing minutes with, Ireland’s stand out player, Claire Molloy, grabbing a try off the back of a maul after good work by Ciara Griffin.
Final score: England 33 Ireland 11.
Ireland: Hannah Tyrrell, Megan Williams. Katie Fitzhenry, Sene Naoupu, Louise Galvin, Niamh Briggs, Nicole Cronin, Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney, Leah Lyons, Aoife McDermott, Paula Fitzpatrick, Ashleigh Baxter, Claire Molloy, Ciara Griffin. Replacements: Ciara O’Connor, Laura Feely, Fiona Reidy, Ciara Cooney, Anna Caplice, Ailsa Hughes, Michelle Claffey, Kim Flood
The Irish side ended up the best of the rest, just about, after Italy recorded a 26 – 12 win against Scotland to put them equal on championship points with Ireland, the Irish side holding on to a third place finish on points scored.
|ENGLAND||33 – 11||IRELAND||Ricoh Arena|
|WALES||3 – 38||FRANCE||Parc Eirias|
|ITALY||26 – 12||SCOTLAND||Stadio Plebiscito|
A massive gap has opened up between England and France and the rest of the teams competing in this Championship, who have now all morphed into a sort of sameness. The final table is shown below.
Italy and Scotland have shown some improvement but Ireland have continued their slide from their Championship winning days and will continue to struggle while those in charge continue to ignore the harm caused to the Women’s 15’s programme over the last four years with the blinkered focus on the, equally underperforming, Sevens programme.
The elite programme development for 15’s and the integration of the Sevens programme in Ireland has has been woefully sporadic, underfunded and poorly coached throughout the four years and any impetus from the 2013 Grand Slam, a quarter final finish in the 2013 Sevens World Cup, a semi final finish in the 2014 World Cup, a follow up Six Nations Championship in 2015 and a home World Cup Tournament in 2017 have been largely wasted.
The Women’s All Ireland League has been somewhat diminished to three competitive teams, Cooke somewhere just below that, and four other sides who have struggled all season. Worryingly, the level of interest has dropped so dramatically that we are seriously considering dropping Senior Women’s Rugby from our portfolio next season.
What we are seeing week after week is falling senior women’s playing numbers and less competitive games all resulting in two wins in the Six Nations. That’s how the World Cup Legacy currently stands.
As for our featured game, it was a gutsy performance from Ireland Women who continued to give their all despite being let down by those in charge.