Irish success in women’s rugby was no fluke

England launch a campaign to increase women in the game by 10,000 in three years

 Lynne Cantwell (right) and Nora Stapleton during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Lynne Cantwell (right) and Nora Stapleton during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 17:44

Players on the Irish Women’s rugby team believed that people considered their 2013 Grand Slam win and particularly their win over the English team was a fluke.

Irish outhalf Nora Stapleton, who played in the winning team and in the recent World Cup in France, said that the World Cup proved that Ireland’s 2013 Grand Slam win was not down to luck.

“We know we have to train harder if we want people to take note of us,” said the Irish outhalf. “We learned a lot, I think, from the Grand Slam. People maybe thought it was a bit of a fluke that we won that.

“You get frustrated when you hear they’re talking about how English players didn’t play. At the same time the number of players England have training, the number of players England have in High Performance programs from the age of 18 up is way and above what we have.

“No matter what team they put out it takes a very strong performance to beat them. Certainly a lot of people speaking about it said maybe it was a fluke...you read it and maybe it frustrates you a little bit. But at the same time you’re kind of used to reading different things in the paper. We don’t worry about that kind of thing too much.

“We know on the day we played extremely well when we beat them that day and even if they didn’t have their full strength team, which when you look at it was maybe one or two forwards and one or two of the backs. I think now especially when we played in the last Six Nations there was only a couple of scores between ourselves and England and ourselves and France.”

Stapleton added that the success in France of qualifying from the Pool phase by beating the top side in the world, New Zealand before departing after a defeat by England and the attention it drew should push women’s sport to the fore.

But the Donegal born player warned that to maintain a profile and sustain support, teams must continue to win matches.

“You have to win. You have to give people something to talk about,” said Stapleton. “The teams that win - and it’s the same in the men - get the most attention. But I do think that women’s sport is on the rise and the more we put in performances the more we can continue to get that support from the government and what the IRFU.

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