We first started covering Ireland Women at the 2010 World Cup at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford and having worked through our coverage during the shutdown we decided, after a bit of encouragement from Fiona Hayes, to put together an Ireland Women Dream Team for the last 10 years.
We’ll be contacting all the Womens AIL Clubs for their nominations in the next day or so and then we will have an open vote for each position and to help you make up your mind we’ve pulled together some stats from the past decade to remind you of some of the key players over that period.
The information here is only related to the 11 years that we have covered.
We looked at 71 games over the past 11 years. The games were World Rugby Ranking Games in the Six Nations, World Cup and, laterly, Autumn Internationals.
Ireland’s results, win ratio and points scored are shown below by each calendar year.
Looking at it with a broad brush, Ireland kicked off January 2010 Ranked 8th in the World and started January 2021 with the same rankings. So has it been a decade of consolidation?
Of course not and it would have been pretty boring if it had been. In fact, good and bad, it’s been quite an eventful period with Ireland women picking up 1 Grand Slam, 1 Championship and 2 Triple Crowns in the Six Nations; a Semi Final in the World Cup; and a brief period at No 2 in the World Rankings and this was all in the first four years of the decade.
Unfortunately, after the heady heights of 2014, it’s been a steady downward trend as you can see from the win ratio 2 year trend line in red in the graph below.
There appears to be the start of a revival of Ireland’s fortunes at the start of 2020 but so disrupted were those games by the looming shadow of the pandemic that it’s difficult to state if this is a genuine revival or a blip due to the extraordinary circumstances.
The People In Charge
Over the period Ireland had three Senior Coaches with Philip Doyle the most successful by some distance.
2010 – 2014
- Six Nations Grand Slam
- 1 Six Nations Triple Crown
- 4th Place World Cup Finish
- No. 2 World Ranking (2014)
2015 – 2017
- Six Nations Championship
- 8th Place World Cup Finish
- No. 4 World Ranking (2015)
- No. 8 World Ranking (2020)
At the end of the day you have to look at the impact of the coaching on the team performance and the most striking aspect outside of the win ratios are in the points for and against. Since Doyle’s tenure Ireland have scored an average of 5 points less per match and conceded 10 points more giving an average negative swing of 15 points per game.
According to the records we have a total of 112 players named in the squads for the 71 games we looked at.
We make it a total of 80 new caps over that period with Philip Doyle introducing 22 new players over his 30 games, Tom Tierney introduced 28 over his 24 games and Adam Griggs has introduced 30 over his 17 games to date.
From the table above it would be fair to say that Claire Molloy has been the most influential player of the past decade with the wing forward appearing in 90% of the 71 games played.
Ireland Women scored 1,304 points over the 71 games. The points came from 192 tries, 91 conversion (47% conversion rate) and 51 penalties.
There were 53 different scorers over the 71 games and you can view the individual players in the table below.
Leading Points Scorer
Niamh Briggs is the leading scorer over the 71 games, amassing 309 points in 46 appearances. It wasn’t just through her colossal boot though, with 15 tries to her name, Briggs in Ireland’s second leading try scorer over that period.
Leading Try Scorer
It’ll be no surprise that Alison Miller is the leading try scorer with 22 tries over 44 games. A prolific scorer throughout her career Millar averaged a try every two games.
We’ve put together a time line for the years in question. Keep scrolling down for a quick summary on each year. If you want to get more details on Ireland Women visit our International Rugby Women category page by clicking the link below.
2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup
Philip Doyle takes charge of Ireland women for the second time and leads them to a 7th place finish in the 2010 WRWC after winning 3 of their 5 matches.
Niamh Briggs finishes the tournament with 34 points (6th highest in the tournament) from 4 tries, 4 conversions and 3 penalties.
Ireland Win Ratio 60%
2011 Six Nations
Doyle starts to rebuild, but narrow losses to France and Wales and a big defeat to England see Ireland finish 3rd in the 6N.
Gill Bourke leads the try scoring with three over the five games.
Stacey Lea Kennedy and Larissa Muldoon make their Ireland debuts along with Kavanagh, Geraldine Rea, Emer McManamly, Deirdre O’Brien, Heather O’Brien and Gill Nolan I believe though we’re not 100% on these “earlier” players.
Ireland Win Ratio 40%
2012 Six Nations
Despite winning three games he 2012 tournament was over-shadowed by the disastrous travel arrangements for their trip to France where they lost by a point.
Alison Miller and Ashleigh Baxter each score two tries in their debut season but Niamh Kavanagh picks up three.
Nikki Caughey, Ailis Egan, Paula Fitzpatrick, Ruth O’Reilly, Siobhan Fleming, Sophie Spence and Jenny Murphy all debut alongside Miller and Baxter.
Ireland Win Ratio 60%
2013 Six Nations
A hat trick of tries from Alison Miller sees Ireland beat England for the first time and they go on to pick up their first Six Nations Championship Grand Slam and Triple Crown with an undefeated season.
Miller finishes the tournament with 5 tries and Lauren Day returns to the squad for the first time since 2010 as Fiona Hayes and Leigh Dargan debut.
Ireland Win Ratio 100%
2014 Six Nations & World Cup
After an average Six Nations, Ireland move into the top 2 of World Rankings after beating New Zealand to qualify for the Quarter Finals. Ireland’s tries come from Heather O’Brien and Alison Miller in their 17 – 14 win and the pair end the year with 4 tries each.
Ireland drop to 5th in the rankings, and 4th in the tournament, after defeats to England and France but still boast their highest ever World Cup finish.
Hannah Casey, Kerrie-Ann Craddock and Orla Fitzsimmons debut during the Six Nations. Tania Rosser returns to the squad for the first time since 2010, Sharon Lynch and Vikki McGinn debut during the World Cup.
Amazingly coach Philip Doyle is not retained after the tournament despite overseeing Ireland’s most successful period ever.
Ireland Win Ratio 60%
2015 Six Nations & Autumn International
Despite losing to France, Ireland secure the Championship and the Triple Crown with a big final day thrashing of Scotland in Tom Tierney’s first season in charge. Tierney is Ireland Women’s first full time coach the appointment made as Ireland prepare for the 2017 World Cup on home soil.
Katie Fitzhenry, Aoife Doyle, Sene Naoupu, Hannah Tyrrell, Sarah Mimnagh, Fiona O’Brien and Katie Norris debut during the Six Nations.
It’s still very much a Doyle inspired team with every point in the tournament coming from players capped in the previous regime. Miller and Paula Fitzpatrick lead the scoring with 4 tries each.
Ireland Women play their first Autumn International losing 3 – 8 to England at The Stoop. Jeamie Deacon, Aine Donnelly, Cliodhna Moloney, Elaine Anthony, Ciara Cooney, Fiona Reidy, Lindsay Peat and Mary Healy debut in this match.
Ireland Win Ratio 67%
2016 Six Nations & Autumn Internationals
Ireland win all their home matches in the Six Nations but lose to England and France away. Claire McLaughlin, Zoe Grattage and Ciara Griffin debut during the Six Nations.
Miller continues to dominate try scoring with 3 tries.
Their home record becomes something of a worry as they lose all three Autumn Internationals against England, Canada and New Zealand. The latter two teams winning with something to spare.
Mairead Coyne, Leah Lyons, Anna Caplice, Nichola Fryday and Chloe Pearse debut during the Autumn Internationals.
Ireland Win Ratio 38%
2017 Six Nations & World Cup
Ireland win four of their five Six Nations matches as Ilse van Staden, Ailsa Hughes and Ciara O’Connor debut.
However, it’s a shockingly poor World Cup from Ireland, on and off the pitch. The team slumped to an 8th place finish after defeats to France, Australia and Wales and the tournament was marked by disappointing crowds at over 60% of the matches.
Eimear Considine, Louise Galvin and Nicole Cronin debut during the World Cup with Ashleigh Baxter returning to the XV’s game after 3 years in the 7’s squad.
Tierney resigns after the loss to Wales which see’s Ireland miss out on automatic qualification for the 2021 World Cup.
Ireland Win Ratio 60%
2018 Six Nations
Adam Griggs is appointed part time coach of Ireland Women and they slump to the [then] worst season of the decade with only two wins from the seven games they play in the Six Nations and Autumn Internationals.
Kim Flood, Megan Williams, Michelle Claffey, Aoife McDermott, Edel McMahon and Laura Feeley debut during the Six Nations.
Claire Molloy tops the try scoring with 4 tries.
Lauren Delany, Laura Sheehan, Emma Hooban, Juliet Short, Ellen Murphy and Beibhinn Parsons debut during the Autumn Internationals.
Ireland Win Ratio 29%
SIX Nations 2019
Ireland’s woes continue with only one win from the six games played. Their only win was against Scotland in the Six Nations, Ireland losing the rest as well as their Autumn International against Wales.
Anna Caplice and Eimear Considine lead the try scoring with 2 each.
The performance marks 2019 as the least successful season of the decade, by some distance.
Nicole Fowley, Linda Djougang, Anne-Marie O’Hora, Kathryn Dane, Enya Breen, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Claire Boles debut during the Six Nations.
Judy Bobbett, Hannah O’Connor, Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony and Niamh Ni Dhroma debut during the Autumn International.
Ireland Win Ratio 17%
2020 six nations
2020 was supposed to be one of the biggest years for Ireland Women with World Cup qualifiers pencilled in for October/November.
The arrival of Covid-19 put paid to those plans though they did manage to get three games played before shutdown in March and one completed in October.
It looked like a possible, long awaited, revival for Ireland as they won 3 of the 4 matches but how much of that was due to extraordinary circumstances is hard to say.
Penalty Try, Beibhinn Parsons and Cliodhna Moloney topped the try scoring with two each.
Claire Keohane and Dorothy Wall debuted during the early games with Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer and Brittany Hogan getting capped in the October game.
Ireland Win Ratio 75%
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