Jump to main content


‘There’s Certain Things We’ll Go After’ – Bemand

‘There’s Certain Things We’ll Go After’ – Bemand

Head coach Scott Bemand has made three personnel changes for Ireland's second WXV4 game against Colombia ©INPHO/Martin Seras Lima

Ireland (sponsored by Aon) will wrap up the second round of WXV3 fixtures with a first ever meeting with Colombia, a nation that has only been playing Women’s international rugby since 2019.

Saturday’s WXV3 second round clash between Ireland and Colombia kicks off at 5pm local time/2pm Irish time. Every match is being streamed live from Dubai for free on RugbyPass TV – click here to register.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Colombia may be relative newcomers to this level, and are smarting from an opening 67-13 defeat to Fiji, but they did win five turnovers at the breakdown in that game and made over 100 carries, albeit with only one try scored from seven visits to the Fijian 22.

Las Tucanes, who are coached by former assistant Lissete Martinez, have faced European opposition just once before, losing 59-3 to Scotland at the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification tournament in Dubai.

Ireland’s task over the next week or so has become somewhat clearer, with Spain beating Fiji 26-19 to move to the top of the WXV3 table on nine points. Fiji are next with six points and the girls in green have five from their record 109-0 victory over Kazakhstan.

Ahead of their final round showdown with Spain next week, Scott Bemand’s charges must take care of business against Colombia and continue to build on an encouraging start to their inaugural WXV campaign.

“Colombia will come with their own challenges. Teams that you don’t get to play against that often are really refreshing challenges for us to go at,” commented Bemand, who had made three personnel changes to the team.

“At this point, we focus quite a lot on ourselves. A lot of people have mentioned the score against Kazakhstan, winning is important but probably of greater importance to us, as a group, was the performance which we were really happy with.

“Colombia are going to have seen that and are going to have identified things in our game that they can get an advantage over us.

“We’re just going to come up against a slightly different set of problems. We’re going to keep ‘us’ at the very centre of it, making sure that we can be the very best that we can be.

“There’s certain things we’ll go after this week which may look slightly different to last. If we get all things right, we’re anticipating a good performance again.”

Added to the replacements bench, Ulster’s Fiona Tuite (pictured above) could become Ireland’s fourth new cap of the tour, while the all-Connacht half-back pairing of Nicole Fowley and Aoibheann Reilly gets its first outing on the international stage, and there is another new combination at lock.

Leinster talent Eimear Corri joins co-captain Sam Monaghan in the engine room, with her first start coming on the back of an assured debut during the final 40 minutes against Kazakhstan.

Ireland’s front row reserves, Sarah Delaney, Niamh O’Dowd and Megan Collis, have an average age of just 20.66 and a combined three caps between them. Game-time is vital for these fledgling internationals as well as building a collective identity and growing as a team.

“There’s another new cap coming into the squad this week with Fiona. Obviously promoting Eimear to getting her first start,” acknowledged Bemand.

There’s a bit of a continuation where you want to build some consistency, but you need to grow a little bit. So we’re on plan.

“Coming out to Dubai affords a certain opportunity. We’ve got a bit of time out here with three weeks, a preparation phase, we’re three weeks out here where we’re able to build a bit of a training identity.

“Getting girls up to speed with how we want to play, how we want to take it forward, being able to build some combinations and being able to blood some new caps. So far the wheels seem to be turning in the right direction.”

There were aspects of last week’s 17-try display that they will want to sharpen up, including a turnover count of 18, but there are also high standards to maintain with just five penalties conceded and four missed tackles across the 80 minutes.

Colombia had a tackle completion rate of 68% against Fiji and kicked two-thirds of their possession when exiting their 22, so Ireland will feel they have the firepower, led by top try scorers Béibhinn Parsons and Eve Higgins (four each), to capitalise on any defensive frailties or loose kicking.

Bemand spoke this week about the group’s desire to ‘become a really tough team to play against, and a really tough team to get into’. He highlighted the fact that they have left ‘some very good players back in Ireland’.

“We want to be a really tough 23 to break into. I’m having some great conversations this morning with players about how do you get into the matchday squad. We’ve sort of put more focus on that than how you necessarily go about winning this competition.

“Because we very much believe if we get those things right, it will transfer to the pitch. If it transfers to the pitch, the results will come, the points accumulation will come and we hope we’re at the right end of the table come that last game.”

He added: “There will be times where things are not going to plan, that’s the nature of sport. But I think we’re building a group here that have actually got a bit about them, that can learn to compete.

“That can learn to roll their sleeves up but have actually got each other’s back when that does happen. You don’t get to that instantaneously, you have to build it and you have to build those bonds.

“I’m quietly pleased with how people are adapting to what we’re asking of them, but also generating a bit of a gravitational field of their own which will hopefully stand us in pretty good stead going into the Six Nations next year.”