End of an era for Fiona Coghlan and Ireland
Lynne Cantwell ruled out with concussion, Jenny Murphy’s knee injury makes her a major doubt
Ireland head coach Philip Doyle after the World Cup semi-final defeat to England. “there is a huge chance to push on and really put women’s rugby in Ireland on a new standing.” Photograph: Inpho
No matter what, here ends the greatest era in Irish women’s rugby. Fiona Coghlan leads them out one last time.
There will always be two Grand Slam captains hailing from Clontarf but only one overcame New Zealand.
Others are departing as well, including coach Philip Doyle. “It is the end of an era but the start of a new one,” said Doyle. “I’m telling you, there is a huge chance to push on and really put women’s rugby in Ireland on a new standing. I just hope everyone involved grasps it and moves forward.
“The next World Cup is only three years away and it could be in Ireland. There is an awful lot of work to do as certain leaders will not be around. They have to be replaced, and quickly.”
Victory here and Ireland could be first seeds in 2017.
Lynne Cantwell has been ruled out with concussion while Jenny Murphy’s knee injury makes her a major doubt, ensuring a change in Ireland’s midfield dynamic. Hannah Casey is poised to play 13 with Jackie Shiels coming into the mix as well.
That’s also leaves a leadership void.
Nobody knows which French side will show up. Not even they do. The Canada defeat seems more traumatic for them than Ireland’s showing against England as they left it so late and almost salvaged a draw only to fall inches short.
“I’m not sure how France are going to react. Will they switch off and be disinterested or pick it up and try to prove a point?
“I know where we are coming from. Our mindset is to go out and prove a point to ourselves, firstly, and then to our supporters,” said Doyle.
There will be a dying surge of expressionism from France. They streaked into a 19-3 lead in Pau last March before completely switching off, only to recover enough to win 19-15.
“They’ve started the same team, more or less, four times now. It’s the usual craic with French crowds. Shut them up and they turn on their team. But we have an awful lot to prove in defence. The mindset is it’s all about us, not them.”
Beating France in Paris, that would be special, but this is game five after 17 long days.
IRELAND (PROBABLE): N Briggs; A Baxter, H Casey, G Davitt, A Miller; N Stapleton, T Rosser; F Coghlan (capt), G Bourke, A Egan; S Spence, ML Reilly; S Fleming, C Molloy, P Fitzpatrick. Verdict: France win.