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'We had high hopes of improving': Ireland endure miserable Six Nations

Adam Griggs’ side finished fifth in the Women’s Six Nations, their worst finish in 13 years.

Ireland endured a miserable campaign.
Ireland endured a miserable campaign.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

ADAM GRIGGS HAS called on World Rugby to look at the balance of the Women’s Six Nations as the Ireland head coach reflected on a disappointing campaign for his side.

Griggs saw his team finish fifth in the 2019 tournament with just one win and four defeats from their five matches, which was Ireland’s worst finish in 13 years. 

Ireland ended with an underwhelming 24-5 defeat to Wales in Cardiff, while England — whose players fully professional — dominated the championship to win a Grand Slam.

“England went and won the championship 80-0 [against Scotland] and I think that has got to be looked at through World Rugby more than just ourselves,” he said.

“This whole competition is very tough. Our players will now go back to club rugby in Ireland and that’s not the same level as the Tyrells Premiership and the French Championship.

“That’s where we struggle a little bit in terms of getting high-quality games week in, week out. Then you come into a tournament like the Six Nations where there is no easy game.

You saw that against Wales where we had a lot of tired bodies and just couldn’t get up for the game.

Asked how World Rugby or the Six Nations could ensure more of a level playing field between the fully professional and part-time women’s sides, Griggs added: “You tell me. I don’t have the answers. England have technically been fully professional since January and they’ll have a full year together before the next Six Nations comes around again. That’s a daunting process.

“We’ve got to keep battling, make sure we keep challenging each other in camp, and we need as many high-profile games as we can to learn.”

Against Wales, Ireland dominated the opening quarter and finally made their pressure count as teenage wing Beibhinn Parsons opened the scoring. After that, they failed to score a point.

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Aoife McDermott dejected Ireland lost four of their five games. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Ireland’s forwards were under constant pressure, their backs lacked flair, and they made too many errors as Wales showed a clinical edge with their best performance of the campaign.

This was Ireland’s first defeat to Wales in the Six Nations since 2011. Home tries came from Jess Kavanagh, captain Carys Phillips, Bethan Lewis, and Jasmine Joyce.

“We had plenty of ball and a lot of possession, but we didn’t really do a lot with it. We struggled to get line breaks and the Welsh defence was very good,” said Griggs.

“We’ve looked at some of the statistics and we’ve scored more tries in the championship this year than we did last. The attack side of things is improving, but it’s defence which is the big work on for us at the moment. We’ve got a young squad and that’s where we’re struggling at the moment.

“What let us down were the missed tackles. Throughout the game the Welsh had dominance and were strong at the set-piece. We were under pressure at scrum and lineout. Even the ball we did get wasn’t clean. We then turned it over and missed tackles. It’s as simple as that.”

Ireland won just one game — against a poor Scotland side — over the course of the campaign.

Asked to sum it all up, Griggs added: “It’s probably disappointment, to be honest. We had high hopes of improving from last year and in parts we have, but in others we’ve let ourselves down.

“It’s hard to score tries if you are conceding them as well.”

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