Ireland centre Joanne O’Sullivan was happy with her lot when she reflected on her 50th cap for her country – a gritty 15-3 victory over Scotland at Ashbourne RFC.
The Irish girls broke clear of Scotland in the second half, with tries from winger Nora Stapleton and flanker Sinead Ryan guiding them to a 15-3 win, their third success of the 2010 RBS Women’s 6 Nations.
The result confirmed their third place finish, matching last year’s historic achievement.
The three home wins, and decent efforts away to France and England, will give the Kevin West-coached squad plenty of encouragement as they look forward to the Women’s Rugby World Cup which will take place in England between August and September.
Friday’s game marked a 50th cap for Ireland centre Joanne O’Sullivan, who is the sole exile in the squad.
Speaking afterwards, she said: “My first cap was also against Scotland in 2003, so it’s been a good seven years for me and it was a good occasion to lead the team out with it being the last Six Nations game and we took away a win as well so I’m very happy.
“It was a game of two halves tonight, we went into it with confidence but in the first half we didn’t retain the ball well enough and play the rugby we wanted to play – but we wanted to stick with it and come back and get the win.
“Their number 13 (Lucy Millard) is world class, so for me tonight it was about keeping her in check as much as I could, so it was defensive enough in the middle.”
O’Sullivan, who plays her club rugby for English side Richmond, started this year’s Six Nations playing at out-half, alongside Tania Rosser.
Her last three run-outs have seen her don the number 13 jersey, partnering Shannon Houston at centre against England and combining with Grace Davitt for the wins over Wales and Scotland.
Looking back on the progress made already this season, she added: “We’re happy with how the Championship went for us this year.
“Having the summer to work on our skills and game-plans will be good preparation for the World Cup.”
In his first season at the helm, Kevin West has already got through an amount of work with his reinforced managerial team all having crucial roles in the development of the squad.
The competition for places in the side is at an all-time high, and recent debutants Chris Fanning, Marie Louise Reilly, Nora Stapleton, Alison Miller and Eliza Downey have all settled in well, along with Lauren Day who has made a promising transition from flanker to prop.
Stalwarts like Rosser, team captain Fiona Coghlan and number 8 Joy Neville continue to lead by example and maintain the high standards demanded by the player group and management.
Although pleased with the win over Scotland, West admitted that there is definite room for improvement as they continue to build for the World Cup and expectations rise.
“I’m very happy with the year so far. We are third in the Championship and we’ve only done that once before and we’ve done it using a squad,” he said.
“I have changed the team every single time so we’re building nicely. We’re delighted with the Test win tonight but disappointed with the performance, so we’re starting to have higher expectations of ourselves.
“We weren’t as focused as we should have been early on and credit to Scotland, I felt they were the better team in the first half.”
This has been the New Zealander’s first experience at the coalface of women’s international rugby and he has soaked up a huge amount of information that can be put to good use for the World Cup.
“It’s my first RBS Women’s 6 Nations and I have learned so much. I can watch lots of videos but to see the teams in action first hand is fantastic,” added West.
“We have some time off now and then we’ve got a number of official training camps. But knowing the girls and their dedication, there will be a lot of unofficial training going on too!
“The Six Nations has been great in showing us what we need to do to be ready for the World Cup.”