The next milestone in the build-up to Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup is the squad announcement on Monday morning. Head coach Tom Tierney will unveil his 28-strong panel at the UCD Student Centre tomorrow at 11am.
Winger Hannah Tyrrell was a spectator when Ireland finished fourth at the 2014 tournament in France, but after winning her first cap the following season and now establishing herself as a regular starter, she is hoping to make the final cut for WRWC 2017 and play in her native Dublin next month.
“To even have a chance at making a World Cup squad for me is amazing. I was a spectator at the last World Cup. Just to be in this position is phenomenal for me, and hopefully things work out for me and dreams come true,” admitted the 26-year-old, who scored tries against Italy and Wales during this year’s Six Nations.
“If I make the World Cup squad, and manage to make a matchday squad, I’d be hoping to put in a good performance for my team-mates. The weeks and months are flying by. Really exciting times ahead, and a lot of us just can’t wait to get started really.”
With just over two weeks to go until Ireland’s opening game of the tournament against Australia, anticipation is starting to rise in all four provinces. The Women’s Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour has helped to raise awareness of Women’s rugby in Ireland, and Tyrrell believes the game will continue to grow in the next few years.
“It’s brilliant. The Trophy Tour has already done wonders for Women’s rugby. It has travelled the length and breadth of the island, and is really generating awareness of the tournament and Women’s rugby in general.
“I just think it’s encouraging younger girls to pick up rugby from a younger age, and we can really get some grassroots development going, and hopefully in a few years, we’ll see the results of that with some phenomenal players coming through.”
Tom Tierney’s charges will look to hit the ground running when they welcome the Australians to the UCD Bowl, in what will only be the third meeting between the two nations at 15s level. However, dual international Tyrrell has faced some of the Wallaroos with Ireland on the World Sevens Series circuit and is expecting to see some familiar foes in action.
“There’s a couple of Australians that are crossing over from Sevens back to 15s. The Australia game will be a tough one for us, but we’re just really focusing on ourselves as a team at the minute, getting our systems and defensive systems on track, and working on little things like that. Hopefully things go the way we need it to on the day, and we start the tournament off well.”
Four days on from their Pool C opener, Ireland will head into battle with Japan, whom they recently faced in two trial matches at UCD. Tyrrell scored seven points in the first of those games, and she was pleased to get a run-out on the surface that will act as the team’s base for the pool stages.
“It’s always important to get some game-time, whether it’s competitive or a friendly. Japan gave us a really good test, they’re a really well organised side. They really put it up to us in some tough conditions on the day, but it was great to grind out a win, and we were trying out a few new players in different positions and stuff like that. Some new systems and stuff, so it was great to just get some game-time.”
One of Ireland’s most impressive performances in the 2017 Six Nations was their 13-10 success against France at Donnybrook last February, and the two teams will renew acquaintances in their final pool fixture on Thursday, August 17. While their focus is firmly set on Australia at the moment, Tyrrell is expecting a physical encounter with the French.
“We’re trying not to look too far ahead in the pool stages. Trying to focus on the first game, and then deal with the rest as they come. We know France are going to be a tough test,” she added.
“Yes, we beat them in the Six Nations this year, but we know they’re going to come back even stronger, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic game with a huge physicality involved. Hopefully we come out on the right side of it on the day.”
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.