Ireland women face Italy with World Cup hopes on the line

After shock defeat to Spain it’s make or break time for Adam Griggs’ side in Parma

Ireland huddle after their loss to Spain. Photo: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

Ireland huddle after their loss to Spain. Photo: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho

 

Rugby World Cup qualifier: Italy v Ireland

Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday. Venue: Azzurre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. How to watch: Live on RTÉ Player.

The Ireland women’s rugby team find themselves in ‘must-win’ territory as they prepare to face Italy in the second round of the European qualification tournament for next year’s delayed World Cup finals in New Zealand.

Following a shock opening day reversal to Spain, Adam Griggs’ side simply have to come out on top of their clash with the Azzurre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma tomorrow. A victory over the Italians would at least keep them in line for a runners-up spot and a place at a forthcoming repechage tournament - which will fully establish the participants for the 2022 showpiece in the southern hemisphere.

Although Ireland’s match day 23 won’t be named until later this afternoon - and some changes are expected to their starting line-up - it is anticipated that Stacey Flood will continue at outhalf for the third game in succession. The Dubliner earned her first start as a 15s international in a 25-5 Six Nations success over Italy back in April, but acknowledged their latest meeting will take on an entirely new dimension.

“We have looked over them. We’ve done a few reviews and meetings. Not too much difference to when we played them in the Six Nations,” Flood explained in the build-up to the game.

“I think Italy playing at home, Italy playing in good weather, could play a factor. Obviously they’re here to do a job, just like any other team. We know what to expect from them. If they throw us a few curve balls, we’ll be totally ready to problem solve on the field and adapt to that.”

Italy will certainly come into this game on a high as a result of their emphatic 38-13 bonus point triumph over Scotland in the opening round. While Ireland have generally had the upper hand in this fixture - winning 17 of the 19 competitive clashes between the two countries - the Italians claimed a 29-27 win when they last met in Parma during the 2019 Six Nations Championship and will understandably have their sights on a repeat result.

Ireland: Eimear Considine; Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Sene Naoupu, Beibhinn Parsons; Stacey Flood, Kathryn Dane; Laura Feely, Cliodhna Moloney, Linda Djougang; Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan; Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Ciara Griffin. Replacements: Neve Jones, Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons, Brittany Hogan, Claire Molloy, Emily Lane, Enya Breen, Lauren Delany.

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