herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Double joy as Irish women clinch the title

Ireland's Fiona Hayes and team-mates celebrate winning the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship. Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship
Ireland's Fiona Hayes and team-mates celebrate winning the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship. Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship
Ireland players celebrate with the Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship trophy. Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship,

FORMER women's rugby captain Fiona Coghlan has commended the Women's Six Nations victory as "outstanding" in what was the biggest ever victory for an Irish team.

Following suit with their male counterparts, the Irish women's rugby team destroyed the opposition, taking down Scotland by a huge 73-3 victory.

Ms Coghlan (34), who took Ireland to championship glory two years ago, said that the team's crushing victory marked a turn in women's rugby.

"This is the biggest victory ever for Irish rugby," she told the Herald.

"We were in control all the way from start until finish, it was very impressive.

"I think Scotland were quite poor and they didn't perform but at the same time Ireland didn't let them perform and I think they were ruthless," she added.

"They put the nail in early and any chance that they got they took it, even when the subs came on there was no letting off," she said.

The Irish team needed a 27-point winning margin after Italy's surprise defeat of France, but that goal was already achieved by half-time. Tries from captain Niamh Briggs, Heather O'Brien, Gillian Bourke and Alison Miller gave the Irish side a comfortable 37-3 interval lead.

From there, the team continued to attack the opposition, never allowing them to make any attempt at a comeback.

Ms Coghlan said she believed the victory would encourage young people to join the game, which would in turn grow the chances of having a bigger selection for the 2017 World Cup.

"We'll be hoping to have 30 to 40 girls to pick from and we're not that far off .

"With a win like this it will improve," Ms Coghlan said.

"I have to say the IRFU have been great in providing a structure for this. There is far more underage stuff happening now.

"I only started the game when I was 19 and now we have girls starting younger who can use the skills they have learned domestically to excel in high performance matches," she added.

The women's victory was celebrated by a large crowd of supporters who followed the team to Scotland for the title decider.

The team also got the nod from Áras an Uachtaráin, where President Higgins hailed their victory as "a marvellous and inspirational achievement."

PROUD

"In winning the Triple Crown and Six Nations rugby championships today, the Irish women's team has further ensured that this weekend will remain long in our memories; as our women and men rugby players have made us all feel so proud," President Higgins said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also sent congratulations to Captain Niamh Briggs and the team, saying "Irish rugby is going through a golden age.

"I am delighted for Niamh and all the team who are part of the set up, on their outstanding achievement in winning a third Six Nations in five years," the Taoiseach said.

The victory marks the Irish women's rugby team's second Six Nations success in three seasons, last claiming the Grand Slam under Coghlan in 2013.

hnews@herald.ie

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