Ireland World Cup Squad
Tom Tierney this morning announced his squad that will play in the 2017 World Cup on home soil between August 9th and 26th in UCD in Dublin and the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast. Tierney has selected only one uncapped player in the shape of scrum half Nicole Cronin who has ample 7s experience and will get the opportunity to test herself against a number of top sides and players over the coming weeks.
Ireland will take on France, Australia and Japan in Pool C at this year’s renewal of the competition in which Ireland finished 4th at the World Cup in 2014 out in France. Niamh Briggs will lead the charge from the front after recovering from an injury that has restricted her over the last 12 months. Her last appearance in Green came in November 2016 when she led out Ireland against New Zealand at the UCD Bowl.
Players like Jenny Murphy , Ruth O Reilly and Sophie Spence make a welcome return after injury ruled them out a various stages over the past few months. Tom Tierney has spent the past three years shaping this squad to take on the challenge of a home World Cup. The 2015 Six Nations win showed that the Grand Slam win of 2013 wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
Since the World Cup in 2014 the Women’s game has gone from strength to strength in Ireland with an ever improving league where all the home based players are in regular competition against each other.
The first XV probably picks itself for game 1, all the heavy hitters will be given the first bite of the cherry in the match against Australia. From there they will face two familiar foes in the shape of France and Japan who they recently faced in a warm up fixture in early May.
Having beaten France in the Six Nations earlier this year on home soil Ireland will know they will need to be 100% for each fixture because one lapse in concentration could cost them dearly. I am sure Tom Tierney and his coaching staff will drill that particular point into the players as the World Cup draws ever nearer.
Over the last season or so , Ireland have had to chop and change the starting XV to facilitate the ever expanding demand for players due to their commitments on the 7s circuit. The game of 7s has had a renascence in Ireland over the last few years in both the Women’s and Men’s codes. Both squads will participate in World Cup campaign’s next summer.
This particular experiment has benefitted both the 7s and 15s games in this country. Anthony Eddy who is the 7s director of Rugby at the IRFU and hewill be part of Tom Tierney’s coaching team and will be crucial over the next few weeks in helping to shape this squad into a team capable of going a step further than 2014 where they finished 4th behind France , Canada and Champions England.
England of course will feel there are best placed to defend the crown they won in the Stade Jean Bouin 3 years ago. They have moved on from that triumph by handing out over 50 full time contracts in the aftermath of that win. It now seems that this will be the final few weeks of those players contracts as the RFU seems set to only hand out a smaller number of full time deals when the 2017 World Cup ends. The RFU is going to concentrate on qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
This competition is going to be a very interesting one where a number of the 12 sides will fancy their chances at dethroning England. Ireland , France , Canada and New Zealand are 4 sides well equipped to challenge the Red Rose.
Enjoy the competition over the next few weeks and admire the skills on show. I would dearly love Ireland to better their 4th place finish from 2014, only time will tell….
Cian Mc Gibney