Irish woman lose to Wales in Thriller

Games between Wales and Ireland are usually close affairs when it comes to Women’s 6 Nations matches and so it proved to be at Pandy Park, home of Cross Keys RFC , this afternoon where the home side scored a narrow 15 – 14 win against their Irish counterparts.

The Irish, had taken an early lead when Bristol and Munster hooker, Gillian Bourke crashed over for an early Irish try – converted by Clonmel Garda, Niamh Briggs.

The lead was short lived though for minutes after that opening score , Welsh centre, Elen Evans from Dolgellau went right through the Irish defence and scored by the post. Bath Ladies full back Aimee Young, who added the points from the conversation put her side in front with a penalty four minutes later.

The Welsh backline looked dangerous whenever the ball was in their possession and there was another Welsh try just before half time when a kick from Waterloo front rower, Jenny Davies was collected by Adi Taviner and the Neath Athletic Centre touched down to put the Welsh 15 – 7 up at the break. No conversion this time so the Irish were still in with a shout when the second half resumed.

The Irish girls gave of their all in that second half and indeed were the dominant side for much of the half but with no addition to the score sheet until with some 12 minutes left Gillian Bourke, aided by her pack, scrambled across the try line – again Niamh Briggs converted. 15 -14 to Wales – ten minutes left and all to play for but to no avil as Wales held grimly to their one point lead as the game drew to a close. Relief for Wales, disappointment for the Irish.

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster); Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Geraldine Rea (Highfield/Munster), Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians/Munster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (Bristol/Munster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Ulster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Carol Staunton (Galwegians/Connacht), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).

Replacements: Stacey Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Deirdre O’Brien (Blackrock/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile), Gillian Nolan (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Leinster).

And so to Ashbourne RFC on Friday evening next and a visit from the ‘mighty’ English XV who have swept all before them at this year’s 6 Nations. This evening they were in merciless form winning 89 – 0 against Scotland at Twickenham.It would be extremely difficult to foresee anything other than a very convincing English win on Friday. They are by far the best women’s team in the Northern Hemisphere, and were runners-up at the 2010 World Cup held in UK. All fans of women’s rugby should go along to Ashbourne on Friday and support the Irish ladies in their uphill struggle whilst at the same time seeing women’s rugby at its best.

Women’s Rugby Union in Ireland is doing quite well but needs further support from the I.R.F.U , not only financially, but particularly in the areas of Communications and Promotion of the Ladies Game.

For example next week’s match could have taken place at the Aviva Stadium after the Men’s International between the two sides and not only might a sizeable proportion of the crowd stayed on but all those many Irish fans from Dublin and other parts of the country who could not obtain tickets for the men’s game, been allowed in free as well as the genuine supporters of Irish Women’s Rugby.

The English RFU have done this to great effect.This evening Twickenham game drew a large attendance as have previous such ventures. To be honest, Irish Women’s Rugby is NOT going to take off, based at Ashbourne RFC, lovely club though it be and great organisers though the local club are.

Not their fault but the transport facilities simply are not there after a game. You will never get fans from rural areas travelling to and from Ashbourne for late evening kick offs in Winter and little or no transport home unless one has one’s own car.

The I.R.F.U also need to do much more promotion of the game through media and club promotions. Most media outlets inc local Radio stations, web sites and such like are used to receiving reports from Camogie, Ladies Gaelic,Basketball, Hockey etc etc within hours, sometimes minutes of a major game ending. Sports need that coverage if they are to keep their fans interested.

Tonight is a good example, sites in the United Kingdom and Europe had reports on the Wales – Ireland game from Cross Keys as early as 16.00 (inc the official Welsh RFU site) yet even by 19.30 the IRFU website did not show the result, let alone a brief report. This alas indicates lack of enthusiasm in promotion of the women’s game and needs to be taken on board – and quickly.

R.T.E also have no mention of the game, result or report, at 7.30pm and RTE Aertel though it has space for the result does not have it. No doubt they rely heavily on the IRFU web team for their news.Similarly with the Independent,IrishTimes,Examiner and Belfast Telegraph being in the same boat.

Attendances at Irish Internationals should be much larger – true the IRFU play their party by allowing free entry but that is NOT enough if the sport is to proper. More international friendlies need to take place in Cork,Limerick,Galway and ,Belfast but for the Irish rugby fan it is clearly a case of LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION and that means at least some games at Aviva before or after a men’s international but if all Internationals are played at Ashbourne then sadly the attendances will NOT increase.

There also needs to be a negotiation with RTE so that at very least, Irish women’s internationals are shown LIVE on web and agreements reached re fixed slots of other programmes on a regular basis. Other ‘minority’ sports receive such coverage eg: Camogie, Ladies Gaelic,Handball,Hockey so one must look to the I.R.F.U to improve its communications and promotional activities if women’s rugby is to progress outside the present ‘comfort zone.


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