Gordon D’Arcy: Women’s rugby must forge its own identity rather than follow men’s model

Ireland’s failure to qualify for World Cup a blow to the women’s game

Ireland players are dejected after the game against Scotland at the  Rugby World Cup European qualifying tournament in Parma. Photograph:  Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Ireland players are dejected after the game against Scotland at the Rugby World Cup European qualifying tournament in Parma. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

The Ireland women’s rugby team takes on the USA and Japan next month in fixtures that should have offered early preparation for next year’s World Cup in New Zealand. Instead they represent an unwelcome and painful reminder of a failure to qualify for the tournament.

In a pre-qualifying competition defeats to Spain and Scotland bookended a victory over Italy, and when the dust had settled the Italians earned a direct passage to New Zealand with the Scots heading for a repechage event from which they are likely to emerge. Ireland underperformed massively, something that the players have yet to acknowledge publicly.

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