It has been a busy couple of weeks for Claire Molloy taking part in the Women’s Rugby World Cup. In her latest blog, she brings us up to date with life in the Ireland camp in Surrey – the training, the off field fun and the fines , as well as her take on the two games so far.
The time has flown since we stepped into Dublin Airport on August 16. We’ve settled well into camp ‘mode’ by now. The Friday night we played England seems much longer than a week ago.
The experience of playing on live television and having so many watching was amazing, we’ve been told the figure watching was over a million which to all of us is just mind blowing.
The atmosphere was amazing that day. This is largely due to the large Irish contingent that travelled over and they were the victors that night in terms of sing-offs -it was great to hear ‘The Fields of Athenry’ being belted out.
It was a bruising encounter with the English, our bodies were welcomed to the domain of World Cup rugby with a bang and many of us took full advantage of our day off after the game to recover.
The result (27-0) was disappointing, particularly conceding the last two tries softly but we could be proud of the way we defended our line for most of the game.
After our day off it was straight into pool game 2 against the USA. As a new player to the squad, this game carried an added excitment – a chance to play a team outside of the Six Nations.
The turn around from the England game was quick, having one training session before a Captain’s Run the next day. With the quick turn around we had a bit more time to ourselves and we had a bit of fun, some of the girls have brought the hurleys and sliotars out for a bit of a puck around outside.
The hurleys gathered some attention from the other teams and often the girls are asked to give them a quick masterclass. Other activities include frequent visits to the local Starbucks, cups of tea in the kitchen and some craic playing cards.
Shannon Houston, our resident Vegas dealer, has impressed with some serious shuffling skills and sometimes she has the playing skills to match. The games have provided some great laughs and some unforgettable blunders when it comes to remembering the vital rules.
When it comes to some good laughs there have been some killer comments from all of us, our blonde moments that our finemaster for the tournement has noted down including the classic, ‘what colour are your white shorts?’, being one of my favourites.
No one is immune to the fine book and currently due to the loss of a certain mascot (who has been found again) and some blonde moments, I think I have a bit of an entry and have been advised to try redeem myself.
In the Captain’s Run before the USA game we played Gaelic football as warm-up to confuse the other teams further with another one of our national games. It was great craic we had people like Jo O’Sullivan who had never played before and it was an experience for all to enjoy some good football from the inter-county girls like Eliza Downey and Mairead Kelly.
The Captain’s Run was over before we knew it and it was game day again. My fellow back rower Joy Neville celebrated her 50th cap in some style by scoring two tries, including the opening try of the game.
Getting that start was key to getting our momentum going against a hugely physical American side, and although we were disappointed to concede a try so quickly, we retained our composure.
A brilliant line from Gill Bourke and quick offload to Niamh Briggs who glided nicely towards the line seeing off the American winger to score our second meant our tails were up going in at half-time.
Outstanding throughout the whole game, Joy scored our third try and Tania Rosser sniped well at the line for our bonus point score off a quick penalty, a move that we had suffered ourselves against England.
With a lapse in concentration, we let USA snatch one try back and for the last few minutes we knew we had to get the focus back otherwise our good work could be undone.
As the final whistle blew, we were ecstatic, Lynne Cantwell reckoned her jaw hurt from smiling so much. There were cheers, hugs, smiles from ear to ear and we were united. Ireland 22 USA 12, our first victory since the Six Nations was definitely worth the wait.
There were two victories that day for the Irish – one for the squad and management and the second for the supporters, who, in the sing-offs, are definitely on a winning streak.
With an earlier kick-off we took full advantage of it to go meet the friends and family members that had come to the game and it was lovely to see familar faces about and be introduced to each others’ family and friends.
Later that night we presented Joy, our woman of the match, with a charm bracelet to celebrate her 50th cap.
Post USA we’ve enjoyed another day off and had a great dinner out as a team last night in Guildford. The dinner was a great night out, the food was amazing and we all enjoyed trading our tracksuits for something more flattering. As Joy would say, we were glamorous in ourselves.
It was a nice break from the apartments, and an enjoyable evening. We came back to our apartments with full stomachs, the more energetic of us managed to take part in stage three of our decorations for our apartments.
Drapped from our block we have bunting, a clothesline with flags and balloons and to top it all a shamrock in every window to add to our green bench and pole.
Our block easily holds the title of most decorated but we have seen some increased efforts from the Swedish and the Aussies, we’re not ones to be out done.
There’s been a great buzz in our camp since the USA game. We’ve done the maths, a semi-final spot is on the cards if Canada do us a favour and beat the French. We’ve put ourselves in a great postion come the last day of pool games, and we need to be clinical against Kazakhstan.
We need to defend well as any point conceded could be the difference that costs us a semi-final spot if results go our way in Pool C.
We can only control one thing tomorrow and that’s our result. We’ve improved every game – why break a good habit?
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