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'It has certainly had its challenges, I’ll be honest' - Griggs bows out as Ireland head coach

Adam Griggs took charge of the Ireland’s women’s team for the final time on Saturday.

Adam Griggs took charge of his last game as Ireland head coach on Saturday.
Adam Griggs took charge of his last game as Ireland head coach on Saturday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A LONG, DIFFICULT year has quickly moved into the rear view for Adam Griggs.

For the bulk of 2021, he was head coach of the Ireland’s women team, the man who oversaw a turbulent year which included that bitterly disappointing World Cup qualifier tournament in September.

His impending departure was announced ahead of a November Test window which brought more drama – this time off the pitch – via Anthony Eddy’s now infamous interview and the storm that followed.

In the end, Griggs signed off on a winning note, Ireland overcoming the USA before Saturday’s defeat of Japan to leave them two from two for November. However, the results only told half the story, with the same errors and set-piece issues that proved so problematic in Parma again creeping into Ireland’s play, with Ciara Griffin’s heroics saving the day against the Japanese.

It was a difficult, unconvincing end to what has been a tough period for the squad.

Speaking after Saturday’s game, Griggs reflected on his time with the team, a period in which the squad ultimately fell short of their targets.

“It has certainly had its challenges, I’ll be honest,” Griggs said.

“I came in, put my hand up for a job after a challenging period. Like any coach, I genuinely believed I could really make an impact and a change in terms of what I could see from the outside.

“I’d like to think that, in terms of the squad and some of the players that are coming through now, that has improved. Obviously there’s a long way to go in terms of the women’s game and how we can get ourselves from the grassroots level up into the national team and make standards higher.

ciara-griffin-is-presented-with-the-aon-player-of-the-match-award-after-the-game-by-adam-griggs Griggs with captain Ciara Griffin after the Japan game. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“For me it has been a really challenging period, but something that is going to help me grow as a coach and understanding how we run an international team. What it takes at his level. Obviously we didn’t get all the results that we were after, but my hope is that I’ve made an impact on these players and maybe shown them a different way of seeing the game of rugby.”

Life moves on quickly. This morning, Griggs starts his new role as IRFU Provincial Talent Coach for Leinster.

“I’m looking forward to getting in there and sinking my teeth into some of the development stuff that will be done. It’s another challenge, but obviously I will keep coaching.

“I love it, I love the game of rugby. It is a passion of mine and now it just moves into a different focus of helping some of the younger players and identifying them for Leinster, and also national age grade teams, and really exciting for me as well.”

And what of the squad he leaves behind for incoming boss, Greg McWilliams?

Griggs doesn’t shy away from how disappointing the second half of the year has been, but says he’s seen enough behind the scenes to suggest this group can make genuine strides next year.

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“Even in the last few weeks, some of the players that have gone through that World Cup qualifier experience have even shown already a maturity that they probably didn’t have before that experience,” he explained.

“It’s a shame that you have to take learnings like that from such a failure. You’d really love to have gotten through those qualifiers and still take those same learnings. It’s just a shame that we had to go through that, but I do think the players have already shown that they’ve learnt from that.

“I think this group of players, there’s a lot of young girls there, I genuinely think with them coming through in the next two or three seasons, we’re going to see some really good foundations of what we’ve laid.

“I hope that equals success for Greg and his group.” 

BTL 5

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Ciarán Kennedy

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