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Scrum Caps & Handbags: Claire Molloy’s Blog

Scrum Caps & Handbags: Claire Molloy’s Blog

In her final blog about the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Ireland flanker Claire Molloy fills us in on the last few days at the tournament, a dress design competition that helped the squad get over defeat by the USA and her experience of the tournament as a whole.

‘Black Wednesday’, which marked our defeat to the USA in the play-offs, may have happened but there is nothing like a bit of a dress competition to perk us up.

Our social committee, Jo O’Sullivan and Caroline Mahon, set each apartment the task of creating a dress for a formal occasion. Points would be rewarded for style, fit, use of recyclable materials and bonus points could be given by the respective judges for a particular special merit of each dress. We had three days to work on our dresses and have them ready for our team meeting.

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On Thursday evening, all the squads attended a group bbq in the sports centre for the presentation to the referees and the handing out of the Rugby World Cup participation medals for us all. It was the first time all the sides were gathered in the one spot.

We had all been given IRFU pins to swap and it was quickly clear that the Black Fern pins were top of list to swap for. Although some squads didn’t have pins themselves, they swapped probably more interesting things for our Irish pins.

Several of the girls swapped with the Kazakhs for traditional hats and Eliza Downey acquired herself a little model of a tent. All in all it was a good night and a better way of getting to know other players rather than the nodded ‘good mornings’ as we met on the way to breakfast.

Back to the apartments we all got on with the serious task of dress making. Sinead Ryan, our apartment model, duly accepted all our random notions for our Aviva queen/bride themed dress, even the flammable ones.

Come midnight we had a tricolour maxi dress custom fitted with candle-lit head gear, rugby ball torch, party popper bracelet and plastic cup choker necklace and we’re ready to go for the competition – of course with fire extinguisher following close behind!

Other apartments were hard at work that evening with one of the girls from next door cracking out the papier mache at 8 o’clock in the morning before breakfast.

Friday we had a morning video analysis session on the USA game. No player likes to relive their worst moments from a game on screen – especially when they have it etched in their memory as an action replay – but we know Scotland learning from these not so pretty moments is vital.

There were positives, but few and far between which is evident in the result (40-3). We knew that playing Scotland on the final day gave us a chance to improve our world ranking but it also gave us a chance to rectify what happened in the USA game.

We trained mid afternoon for an hour-and-a-half, then had a long stretching session with Ulrik, our physio, and finished off with a pool recovery and our favourite – the ice baths.

We had the dress competition after our team meeting which thankfully was brief, as some of the competitors had chosen to wear their outfit over. With the catwalk set up and ourselves seated we had our first dress.

Louise Austin strutted in a full length halter neck dress with matching head mask with a bin bag cape trailing behind. Mairead Kelly carefully took us through all the details of the dress from the bad – Chris Fanning’s design – to her cape from ‘Black Wednesday’ representing the loss we had.

Sinead Ryan was up next, candles lit and all, she carefully marched up the catwalk with Joy Neville close behind with fire extinguisher in hand.

The next entry was in the shape of Louise Beamish, the eventual winner, her apartment had dressed her as a tribute to all the different nationalities. Her first dress of four was Elizabethan-inspired for England, according to Nora Stapleton anyway.

Secondly we had her in Irish dancing dress, with a little bit of a reel for good measure. This was followed by a Kazakh number where she was adorned with the national colours. Finally we were treated to a stars and stripes tribute and the rest of the teams knew we didn’t stand a chance.

Fiona Coghlan valiantly stepped in as our final contender with the result sealed by flat 41’s efforts, modelling a blue dress, cocktail at the front and formal at the back, as Eliza Downey commentated, with a custom hat from Staunton designs of Westport.

The judges – Ulrik, Len, Shane, Goose, Rolo and Jess unanimously voted in Louise Beamish as the winner – fair dues to the 41s, it’s hard to make one dress, let alone four!

FInal matchday came, the 7th-8th place play-off. Our earliest start since the tournament began, at 7.30am, was tough but it felt good to be playing so early (11.15am) and not having a long wait before kick-off.

As our last match of the tournament we knew it was an all or nothing affair, but for some of the squad it would be their last outing in the green jersey.

Before we went to the changing rooms, we had our final team meeting of the year – emotional is the word, we were swelling with it.

We all realised this would be the last time we’d be together, as Greg McWilliams, our skills coach, would say, ‘it’s a journey,’ but we had now reached the end.

We got an ideal start with Eliza and Briggsy (Niamh Briggs) racking up early scores, but as usual the Scots didn’t make it easy and we spent the rest of the first half defending, letting them back in for a try and another three points.

Coming back on to the pitch we knew Scotland were going to put it up to us but we just played our kind of rugby and the scores followed. When the final whistle blew we had done it – 32-8 – we had improved our ranking which is what we had all set out to do.

Beating the Scots so comprehensively reinstilled the confidence we had lost after the USA game and reminded us when we play our own rugby, the tries will come and with them, the result. The victory definitely made our Sunday night all that more enjoyable.

The World Cup was a fantastic experience and heading back to real life the last two days was very surreal. I’m going to miss the craic, the card games, the rugby, the breakfast club, the dancing, the singing and the banter.

Before the World Cup, people would say isn’t three weeks a long time. It’s not long enough I’d say.

Roll on the Six Nations.

Molloy out.

Click here to view highlights from the Ireland Women’s side’s World Cup play-off win over Scotland (the Irish match footage begins at 3 minutes, 15 seconds).

Related Links –

Claire Molloy’s Blog – Part 1

Claire Molloy’s Blog – Part 2

Claire Molloy’s Blog – Part 3

Claire Molloy’s Blog – Part 4

Claire Molloy’s Blog – Part 5

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