Ireland Women’s head coach Philip Doyle is confident his players will recover quickly to give it their all in Sunday’s 3rd/4th place play-off against Women’s Rugby World Cup hosts France.
Philip Doyle’s charges leaked five tries on the way to a heartbreaking 40-7 defeat at Stade Jean Bouin, allowing the English to dictate the forward exchanges and dominate possession for the final hour of the game.
Ireland will return to the Paris venue on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 4.30pm local time/3.30pm Irish time, live on TG4) for a shot at third place overall. They will have to overcome a French side that lost 18-16 to Canada in tonight’s other semi-final.
After letting their standards slip from last week’s memorable victory over New Zealand, the girls in green will be hugely determined to end the tournament in winning fashion – especially as it will be Doyle’s last match in charge.
“The girls are fantastic athletes and they’ll get back to the drawing board tomorrow. They’ll pick themselves up and dust themselves off – I’ve no doubt about it – and we will give a performance in that play-off game,” he said.
Ireland seemed to pick up where they left off in the pool stages when scrum half Tania Rosser scored an early try from a lineout maul against England.
But Rochelle Clark and Katherine Merchant responded before the break and the English added three more tries in the second half, including a late brace from impressive replacement Marlie Packer.
Disappointed with the defensive lapses, Doyle insisted: “We pride ourselves on our defence and it just didn’t work today. Our fringe defence was way too passive. They were trying to attack down our nine channel. We identified that they were trying to come down our nine channel and then take us out wide.
“Our fringe just wasn’t closing down that space quick enough and we were way too passive in our line speed…also in the tackle area, it was a soak tackle and they were able to run on.
“It’s something that we’re really going to have to look at because the French are massive ball carriers. It’s an area we’re going to have to really, really train hard on.”
He added: “It was a complete lack of performance from our side. I think we could have applied ourselves an awful lot better in that game. I think we made England look good.
“Obviously, they are very good, an exceptional side, but I thought we completely played within ourselves and we’re bitterly disappointed.”
Doyle can see England, whose power-packed performance was undoubtedly their best since defeating New Zealand in November 2012, going on to lift the trophy after losing the last three World Cup finals.
“We’re going to have to go back and look at ourselves. Possibly (it being our first semi-final appearance) played a part. England obviously have been trying to win this for a number of years now.
“They have all this experience, but they deserved the win. They really turned it on and credit to them. I genuinely hope they go on and win it.”