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'We've had loads of ups and downs over the last 12 months' - Latest uncertainty nothing new for Ireland

Adam Griggs’ team have eyed the France fixture as a chance to record a potential upset.

Ireland's Nichola Fryday.
Ireland's Nichola Fryday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IT’S TURNED ANOTHER strange week for the Ireland Women’s squad. Fresh from walloping Wales 45-0 on Saturday, Ireland returned home only to discover their round two meeting with France was in doubt due to quarantine rules.

The French are due in Donnybrook this Saturday but newly-introduced rules which require arrivals from France to fulfil strict quarantine on arrival in Ireland raised fears the game would be postponed or at the very least moved to a different venue.

Given the French squad’s semi-professional status, they would require an elite status exemption to avoid mandatory quarantine.

While there is still some uncertainty surrounding the fixture, it is expected the game will receive the green light from the powers that be. Earlier today, Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers told RTÉ that exemptions for elite sport will be examined on a “case-by-case basis” by the HSE, and pointed to the benefit that in the case of the Women’s Six Nations, teams will already have been part of a team ‘bubble’ before travelling.

Around the same time as Chambers was speaking, Ireland internationals Nichola Fryday and Lauren Delany were in front of the media to discuss what it’s been like preparing for a game which may, or may not go ahead.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” Fryday added.

“After Wales, we’ve done our review and our next focus now is just to get on that pitch with France. Those external things, they are out of our control. Like the last six months, we’ve just focused on what we can control, and that’s our prep for this Saturday.”

“We’ve had loads of ups and downs over the last 12 months, and we’ve had to adapt and be really, really flexible,” Delany added, “which we’ve learned really well as a team and also as individuals in our days jobs with everything going on.

lauren-delany Lauren Delany in action against Wales last Saturday. Source: Robbie Stephenson/INPHO

“No matter what happens over the next few weeks, we’re able to be flexible and adapt, and we’ll just continue to focus on us, we’ll continue to focus on the game at hand.

“(It’s) a really exciting opportunity. We missed out playing France last year, so it’s been a good while since we’ve played them.

“I think more than ever, we’re excited to play one of the top teams in the world and prove all the good work we’ve put in place and how we can compete with the best.”

Ireland have eyed the France fixture as a chance to record a potential upset, with the winner of the game in line to play England for a shot at the 2021 Women’s Six Nations title.

However, if Ireland are to beat the French they will need to deliver a much more rounded performance that they did in Cardiff. After racing into a commanding 31-0 lead in the first half, Ireland were less effective in the second period as handling errors and individual mistakes crept into their game. 

“Ultimately it comes back to what we can do,” Fryday said.

“We’ll be focusing largely on our performance and making sure that we can improve on what we did last week, because I think if we can get that improvement across the squad, then we’ll be in a good spot to put pressure on them. 

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“I think we can work on our open play, I think we can work on our phase play, so I think at times we lost our way a bit in the second half especially. We know there is definitely areas to improve in from the second half. We’ll be looking to focus on that.”

“I think last week we laid really good foundations and we definitely put in that performance that we wanted to start off our campaign,” Delany continued.

“But we recognise that we’re on a journey and every team will bring different challenges and a different dynamic. I think we’ll have to improve on some key areas that we maybe weren’t as successful or consistent in, and then adapt again for the French team.

“But yeah, I think we’re optimistic based off last week’s performance, and I definitely think we recognise the areas we can improve on.

“If we can improve on those key areas, I think we can put in an equally good, if not a better, performance against France.” 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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