Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 3°C Thursday 3 December 2020

Ireland miss out on World Cup semis as France overpower hosts in UCD

Tom Tierney’s side were 21 points down at the break, and had to wait until the last play of the game to register their first score.

France 21

Ireland 5

Sean Farrell reports from the UCD Bowl

IT WAS ALWAYS going to be a tall order, and France unleashed all their power and flair immediately to ensure Ireland knew just how high the bar was set for the World Cup semi-finals.

Tries within the opening 15 minutes from Romane Menager and Caroline Ladagnous meant Ireland, for the second game running, would face a 14-point deficit while didn’t have to wait long to clock up a higher points total than they managed in either of their last two trips to Dublin.

Ireland dug deep again, but there was no brave comeback victory against opposition of this calibre. Les Bleus advance to the tournament final four to face the reigning champions England in Ravenhill on Tuesday while Ireland head into a 5th to 8th place play-off series, beginning with another meeting with Australia.

Romane Menager celebrates scoring a try with teammates Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

France made their advantage count within eight minutes, The power of number eight Saif N’Diaye was instantly a problem for the green defence as she carried with pace and consistently barrelled over the gainline. Irish backs flung as much weight as they could into tackles, but the visitors always had options and Menager’s leg drive through contact was the ideal tool to break the brief deadlock in this game.

The power mismatch was a constant bane to Ireland’s chances, so although Nora Stapleton’s kicking from hand was much improved, Ireland were easily sucked in narrow before Les Bleus flung the ball left to raid down Eimear Considine’s wing.

Once within range, the blew Ireland away at the breakdown and spread the ball quickly. Ladagnous profiting from that approach for both her first-half tries.

There were bright moments for Ireland. Ladagnous’ 29th minute second score was a sharp riposte after an encouraging spell of Irish pressure that breathed life into misguided comeback hopes. Yet for all the hard yards won by Ciara Griffin and Jenny Murphy, the blue wall stood firm and the swift counter-attacks from forwards as athletic as Menager and Leanaig Corson quickly ate any Irish gain back up with interest.

Safi N’Diaye is tackled by Lindsay Peat Said N'Diaye making yards through Irish tackles. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

A 21-point half-time deficit and nobody could argue it was misleading. Certainly not after France’s defence remained impermeable through an early Irish onslaught and sin-binning for Corson.

The fire still burned in Ireland’s pack as they reached the hour mark. They take pride in their conditioning and ability to last the distance in any scrap. Lindsay Peat showed her own thirst for a personal battle and tempers flared before and after she forced a scrum penalty that helped Ireland gain a rare foothold in the blue 22.

Caroline Ladagnous celebrates scoring a try with Annaelle Deshayes Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO


From there, Ireland mounted one almighty siege on the try-line, with every member of the pack seeming to get a turn to carry slow ball from a standing start into contact for close to 20 phases until the baying crowd had to be content with a scrum after the final shove was held up over the try-line.

The final quarter brought more spirited attack from Ireland, but by then France had their bench emptied and fresh legs in place to rack up a high second-half tackle count locked in their own half, only succumbing to pressure in the 80th minute when Cliodhna Moloney grabbed a consolation try.

For a third match in eight days, Tierney’s side were a much more coherent, direct and powerful outfit in the second half than they were in the first 40. This time, however, it was far too little too late.



Tries: C Moloney

Conversions: H Tyrell (0/1)


Tries: R Menager, C Ladagnous (2)

Conversions: M Amedee (1/2) S izar (1/1)

Penalties: M Amedee (0/1)

FRANCE: Montserrat Amédée; Chloé Pelle, Caroline Ladagnous, Elodie Poublan, Shannon Izar (Camille Grassineau. ’51); Caroline Drouin (Carla Neisen ’71), Yanna Rivoalen (Jade Le Pesq ’47);  Annaëlle Deshayes (Lise Arricastre ’47), Gaëlle Mignot (Caroline Thomas, ’65), Julie Duval (Patricia Carricaburu ’49); Lénaig Corson, Audrey Forlani, Marjorie Mayans (Céline Ferer ’73), Romane Ménager (Julie Annery, ’47), Safi N’Diaye.

IRELAND: Hannah Tyrrell ; Eimear Considine, Jenny Murphy (Louise Galvin ’65), Sene Naoupu, Alison Miller; Nora Stapleton (Katie Fitzhenry ’62), Nicole Cronin (Larissa Muldoon ’75);  Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons (Cliodhna Moloney ’40), Ailis Egan (Ruth O’Rilly ’71), Sophie Spence (Heather O’Brien ’58), Marie Louise Reilly, Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy, Paula Fitzpatrick (Ashleigh Baxter ’76).
Referee: Graham Cooper (Australia)

Subscribe to The42 podcasts here:

New Zealand steam-roll Canada to complete perfect run to World Cup semis

‘My time being patient is over, it’s time to play and perform in those big games’ — Jack Conan

About the author:

Sean Farrell

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel