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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: Ireland

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: Ireland

We begin our weekly profiles of the twelve Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 teams with a look at tournament hosts Ireland. Will home advantage inspire the girls in green to another top-four finish and perhaps even more?

IRELAND

Head Coach: Tom Tierney
Team Captain: Niamh Briggs
Women’s Rugby World Cup Record: 1994 (7th), 1998 (10th), 2002 (14th), 2006 (8th), 2010 (7th), 2014 (4th)
Current World Ranking: 5th

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WRWC 2017 Fixtures:

Pool C –

Ireland v Australia, UCD Bowl, 7pm, Wednesday, August 9
Ireland v Japan, UCD Bowl, 5.15pm, Sunday, August 13
Ireland v France, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm, Thursday, August 17

Play-Offs –

Semi-Finals, Kingspan Stadium/Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Tuesday, August 22
Finals, Kingspan Stadium/Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Saturday, August 26

Best WRWC Moment: Defeating then-reigning champions New Zealand 17-14 at the last World Cup in France, making history in the sides’ first ever meeting and ending the Black Ferns’ 20-match unbeaten World Cup run which stretched back to the 1991 semi-finals

Soundbites: Niamh Briggs – “When you get to the World Cup it’s about playing the best. We want to go and win it, and if you’re going to win it, you need to beat the best regardless of what pool they’re in. We’re all athletes, and we all want to win every game we play.

“I’m not going to turn around and tell you that I’d be happy to get to a semi-final again. We want to go and win every game, be it every autumn international, every Six Nations, every World Cup. We’re driven, and that doesn’t change.”

Lindsay Peat – “We’ve huge characters in the squad, we’ve great camaraderie. If I’m not secure in the person who is to the left and right of me, then you have to be willing to die for that person. I know that sounds dramatic but every time we put on that Irish jersey, we’re going out to war to fight for our country, in a rugby sense, but that’s the bottom line of it.

“That camaraderie and that togetherness, that’s the epicentre, that’s the nucleus and that’s where good teams are built from. Regardless of their skill level, if they don’t have that, they’re not the same team.”

Did You Know?: The Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland has a capacity of around 55,000 tickets across all 30 matches. Some pool games are selling out according to tournament director Garrett Tubridy, and sales for the final at Kingspan Stadium are also ‘going very well’. So to avoid disappointment, secure your tickets now via www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.

Team Profile: The high point of Ireland’s WRWC history so far is, of course, that unforgettable first ever win over New Zealand in the pool stages at France 2014. The famous result in sun-kissed Marcoussis has set the bar that Tom Tierney’s current side must reach if they are to be trophy contenders in just over two months’ time.

Although Ireland subsequently fell short in the play-offs against England and 2014 hosts France, their best ever World Cup finish of fourth, allied to the Six Nations titles won in 2013 and 2015 and a four-out-of-five return in this year’s Championship, shows how difficult they are to stop once they get on a roll in a tournament format.

Three years ago, the Grand Slam heroines of 2013 formed the backbone of Ireland’s memorable World Cup campaign under Philip Doyle. Now, it is very much about a mix of experience and youth, with Tierney blooding a number of newcomers over the last 18 months with this tournament very much in mind.

The front row has been bolstered by 22-year-old powerhouse Leah Lyons, who had a big impact as a try-scoring hooker in her very first Six Nations campaign, and multi-talented loosehead Lindsay Peat, a former Dublin Gaelic footballer and soccer and basketball international who was recently voted the Irish Women’s Rugby Player of the Year.

The explosive Sophie Spence, a World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year nominee in 2015, will be aiming to peak in late summer after an injury-disrupted season, with her Old Belvedere club-mates Ailis Egan, Marie Louise Reilly, Nora Stapleton, Alison Miller and Jenny Murphy, who has formed a skilful and strong-carrying midfield combination with Sene Naoupu, also looking to put their best foot forward.

Ever-influential full-back and captain Niamh Briggs, who missed the 2017 Six Nations with a hamstring injury, is on course to lead Ireland in August. The Waterford star is one of four Irish players set to play at their second World Cup, among them is Claire Molloy, the relentless openside with terrier-like breakdown skills and a great eye for a gap in attack.

Of the newer players, winger Hannah Tyrrell’s lung-bursting try against Italy has marked her out as ‘one to watch’, and Ulster’s Claire McLaughlin, Ilse van Staden and Nikki Caughey will all be pushing hard for inclusion in a tournament that graces both Dublin and Belfast. So too a number of Tyrrell’s Ireland Sevens team-mates who could yet force their way into Tierney’s selection.

48 players are currently in contention to make that final Ireland WRWC squad, with two warm-up games to come against Japan and a training camp in Spain. Pool clashes with Australia, Japan and France – all at the atmospheric UCD Bowl in the space of eight days – will provide a stern test of Ireland’s World Cup credentials.

A 6,105-strong crowd watched March’s Grand Slam decider against England at nearby Donnybrook, and with the enviable bonus of playing on home soil and with the backing of a fervent green-clad support, Ireland definitely have the ingredients to mount a concerted challenge for World Cup glory. #BringIt

For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for #WRWC2017 now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.

IRELAND WRWC Training Squad: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt), Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster), Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht), Nicole Cronin (Shannon/Munster) *, Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster), Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock/Leinster), Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster) *, Nicole Fowley (Galwegians/Connacht), Louise Galvin (UL Bohemians/Munster) *, Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht), Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster) *, Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster), Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum) *, Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster) *, Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls), Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird (Aylesford Bulls/Munster) *, Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Megan Williams (St. Mary’s) *, Elaine Anthony (Highfield/Munster), Ashleigh Baxter (Cooke/Ulster), Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock/Leinster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht) *, Jennie Finlay (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster)

* Denotes uncapped player at this level

#WRWC Team Profile: England