Tom Tierney to remain in IRFU fold after World Cup
Women’s coach expected to take up post in underage set-up
Ireland’s Lindsay Peat waves to the crowd with her son Barra after the defeat to Wales in the Women’s Rugby World Cup seventh-place playoff at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Wales 27 Ireland 17
An internal review of this World Cup collapse is promised by the IRFU but coaching consequences have, seemingly, been decided already.
Tom Tierney knew in advance of this tournament, or certainly at some stage during it, that he was finished as Ireland women’s head coach.
But the 40-year-old remains in gainful employment.
Do you know what you will be doing next?
“I do yep,” said Tierney.
Will it be with the IRFU?
“I wouldn’t say that yet. It’s just a private thing at the moment. I won’t be under pressure.”
When asked if he was moving into Ireland’s (male) underage structures, perhaps succeeding Nigel Carolan as under-20s coach or Kieran Campbell at the under-19s, Tierney replied: “Again, I won’t be answering that. But I’ve done nothing else but be a rugby coach since I retired as a player.”
Despite Ireland slipping from being ranked fourth in the world to an eighth-place finish at this World Cup, Tierney stated: “I’ve had three great years, I’m very, very proud of what I’ve done. It wasn’t an easy job to come into. It’s on to something else now.”
When asked about the Ruth O’Reilly interview in The Irish Times, he said: “The timing of it was very unfortunate for the girls.”
However, when Ireland prop Lindsay Peat was asked about the same article she stated: “The IRFU have us on a media ban from 12 [noon] before the game until 12 [noon] the day after the game so I actually haven’t seen any media at all. I have deleted Twitter off my phone.
“Even my family haven’t seen it otherwise they would have given me a text.”
Did it impact on the group at all? “As I said,” Peat continued, “it goes across the board. The IRFU implement a media ban.”
The roar of genuine delight from this Belfast crowd for Katie Fitzhenry’s late consolation try told its own story. The will at grassroots to grow the game still, clearly, exists.
And, lo and behold, after 376 minutes of lateral attack this past fortnight, Sene Naoupu’s move to outhalf saw the backs dashing over the gainline.
What comes next, as O’Reilly stated, is up to those entrusted with protecting the women’s rugby in Ireland. Not the Sevens game. Because that is a vastly different sport.
The director of rugby for women (and Sevens) is Anthony Eddy.
Eddy has conducted one press conference this season; a hastily arranged gathering on a February night to explain the rationale behind removing three key players – Hannah Tyrrell, Ali Miller and Naoupu – from the Six Nations squad to Sevens so they could play in a tournament in Las Vegas.
Back up in Belfast this miserable campaign ended with a third defeat from five which means Ireland must now qualify for 2021 World Cup.
Another concern is that most of the IRFU funding and support will shift into the Sevens programme ahead of their World Cup in San Francisco next summer. On the evidence of this past fortnight, Ireland will struggle to compete in either code against the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, France and now Wales.
Wales, like most nations, are rapidly moving in the opposite direction to Ireland. Literally. In the opening 40 minutes they breached the gainline 31 times while Ireland trucked it up with success on 13 occasions as their reliance on energy sapping close-in carries eventually yielded a try for Paula Fitzpatrick.
And then Naoupu slid into first receiver to spark a late revival.
Retirements are coming with talismanic lock Marie Louise O’Reilly hanging up her boots after Saturday, but not Peat, who at 36 is keen to play on after only two years as a rugby player.
SCORING SEQUENCE – 11 mins: P Fitzpatrick try, 5-0; N Stapleton con, 7-0; 25 mins: R Wilkins pen, 7-3; 29 mins: C Thomas try, 7-8; R Wilkins con, 7-10. Half-time. 48 mins: S Harries try, 7-15; R Wilkins con, 7-17; 52 mins: A Evans try, 7-22; 63 mins: L Peat try, 12-22; 68 mins: S Powell-Hughes try, 12-27; 74 mins: K Fitzhenry try, 17-27.
IRELAND: H Tyrrell; E Considine, K Fitzhenry, J Deacon, A Miller; N Stapleton, N Cronin; L Peat, C Moloney, A Egan; C Cooney, ML Reilly; P Fitzpatrick (capt), H O’Brien.
Replacements: C O’Connor for A Egan (21 mins, inj), S Spence for C Cooney (47 mins), A Baxter for H O’Brien, L Muldoon for N Cronin, S Naoupu for N Stapleton, L Lyons for C Moloney (all 54 mins), C Moloney for C O’Connor, I van Staden for C Griffin (both 71 mins).
Sin bin: P Fitzpatrick (49-59 mins).
WALES: E Snowsil; J Joyce, G Rowland, H Jones, E Evans; R Wilkins, K Bevan; C Thomas, C Phillips (capt), A Evans; S Lillicrap, M Clay; A Butchers, R Taylor, S Harries.
Replacements: C Hale for E Butchers (62 mins), ,S Powell-Hughes for S Lillicrap (65 mins), I Berbillion for G Rowland (80 mins).
Sin bin: A Evans (60-70 mins).
Referee: C Hodnett (England).