We continue our review of the season just gone with a look at Ireland Women’s performance in the 2017 World Cup, at the beginning of the season, and their performance in the Six Nations in February and March.
As there were significant changes in the coaching set up and in player availability between these two tournaments we’ll look at them separately..
World Cup Results
Ireland Women played five games, winning two and losing three. The results are shown below.
|Round 1||Ireland||19 – 17||Australia|
|Round 2||Ireland||24 – 14||Japan|
|Round 3||France||21 – 5||Ireland|
|5th Place SF||Ireland||25 – 36||Australia|
|7th Place Final||Ireland||17 – 27||Wales|
Plenty has been written about the results in the intervening period, and as we were not invited to the party there is not much we are going to add.
World Cup minutes played
The management team used 29 players throughout, the breakdown of minutes played by Province is as follows.
|Province||Players||Minutes||% of Total|
Ulster’s 6% representation was made up by appearances from Larissa Muldoon, Ashleigh Baxter, Claire McLaughlin and Ilse van Staden.
The minutes played and the points scored by the individual players throughout the World Cup are shown below.
|Marie Louise Reilly||4||320||0||0||0||0||Leinster|
|Ilse Van Staden||2||24||0||0||0||0||Ulster|
World Cup points scored
Ireland scored a total of 89 points throughout the tournament made up of 14 tries, 8 conversions (57% conversion rate) and 1 penalty.
Off the 14 tries, 10 (71%) were scored by forwards indicating the type of game that Ireland had to resort to. In the 2014 World Cup they scored 13 tries with 7 (53%) coming from the forwards and 6 from the backs.
The team had been touted as the best prepared ever but while they may have been substantially fitter it was obvious that their match play was way behind where it needed to be, the team having to work the ball up field through the forwards.
Perhaps most interesting is when the team scored, the points scored, for and against, by quarter is shown below.
All but seven points were scored either in the first or last quarter with the vast bulk scored in the final quarter indicating plenty of fitness and drive from the players. Unfortunately, in three of the five matches, these points were too late to make any difference to the outcome of the game.
The bulk of the damage done was in the second quarter though, with the points against scored by different teams, the spread is more even across the quarters.
With a new squad and new management team announced ahead of the 2018 Six Nations it’s interesting to see if these scoring patterns changed throughout that tournament so lets have a look at the stats for that tournament.
2018 Six Nations results
As always, five games were played in the Six Nations with Ireland winning 2 and losing three. This is their lowest return in this competition since 2011.
|Round 1||France||24 – 0||Ireland|
|Round 2||Ireland||21 – 8||Italy|
|Round 3||Ireland||35 – 12||Wales|
|Round 4||Ireland||12 – 15||Scotland|
|Round 5||England||33 – 11||Ireland|
On the face of it not much appeared to have changed, they were comfortably beaten by France before pulling away in the last quarter against Italy and a young Wales. However, the loss to Scotland was a major upset and England were just a class above.
Six Nations minutes played
Ireland used 31 players during the Six Nations. The breakdown of minutes played by Province is shown below.
|Province||Players||Minutes Played||% of Total|
Seven of the World Cup Squad were unavailable for selection for the Six Nations, the squad seeing a total of 13 new players coming in and 11 in total (including the unavailable 7) not selected.
Despite the changes, Ulster’s representation continued to dwindle. The three players representing the province were Claire McLaughlin, Ashleigh Baxter and Nikki Caughey. The influence of Leinster, despite losing to Munster in the intervening Interprovincial Series, continues to grow.
The minutes played and the points scored by the individual players throughout the Six Nations are shown below.
Six Nations points scored
Ireland scored a total of 79 points throughout the tournament made up of 11 tries (including one penalty try), 9 conversions (82% conversion rate) and two penalties.
Ireland had to again rely on their forward power to score the tries with 8 (72%) coming from the pack and in truth there wasn’t a great change to Ireland’s tactics across both competitions.
However, there was a more even spread across the quarters for points scored though the bulk of the scoring was still in the final quarter.
Points conceded was also more evenly spread, though the second quarter continued to be the main danger period. There was also a substantial rise in points conceded during the final quarter.
On the whole there were some minor changes to the style of play but understandingly, given the amount of time the part time coaching staff had to work with the players, the overall outcome remained pretty much the same.
The unprecedented investment in coaching and management of the Women’s programme over the last four years appears to have developed a range of comparatively fitter players but the development of ball skills and match play does not seem to be progressing at the same rate as those of the main proponents of the Women’s game.
To finish off here’s the stats for all player’s used across both tournaments.
|Marie Louise Reilly||4||320||0||Leinster|
|Ilse Van Staden||2||24||0||Ulster|