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'We know we've put in a professional effort every week... Our commitment to the jersey isn't amateur'

Ireland captain Ciara Griffin and out-half Stacey Flood reflect on Ireland’s defeat to France.

AS THE WIDER conversation about the status of women’s 15s rugby in Ireland rages on, captain Ciara Griffins knows what her team is about in terms of application: professional in effort and professional in dedication to the green jersey.

ciara-griffin-dejected Ireland captain Ciara Griffin after the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

 Her address to the media in the aftermath of Ireland’s 56-15 defeat to France repeatedly comes back to one concept – “what we can fix; what we can control.”

Everything else is out of their hands.

The difference between the semi-professional visitors and the amateur hosts manifested itself in the early stages of the clash at Energia Park. Ireland started brightly but the French superiority soon took over as they registered eight tries in an emphatic display.

Ireland posted two tries in all and were made to work hard for them, as they were overpowered throughout the afternoon.

But in the aftermath of the game, when asked about Ireland’s current status in comparison to the semi-pro French, Griffin steers the conversation back to the collective.

“We focus on what can control and what we can do. We control how we train, how we perform. There might be talks of that [amateur status], that’s fine. We can’t focus on that at the moment, we’ve to focus on the process that’s in front of us. We can come together, we can train.

“We know we’ve put in a professional effort every week in terms of on-field, off-field, working jobs, everything like that. But in terms of our commitment to the jersey and our commitment  to the cause, it isn’t amateur. We’ll right the wrongs of this week.”

Ireland head coach Adam Griggs also spoke to the media after the game, saying that the scoreline wasn’t an accurate reflection on the game in Donnybrook and stressed that his players are capable of more than what a 41-point defeat might suggest.

Griffin echoed his thoughts and credited her team-mates for fighting on even when France looked to be out of sight.

“One thing I’ll say is every woman out there from 1-23 kept going until the 80th minute. No-one dropped their head. We couldn’t change the scoreboard after a while unfortunately but we kept focusing on us and going forward and just protecting our line. And kept going and kept going for that second try.

“I’ll take a lot from that for this group in terms of mental toughness and that’s what’s going to help us this week.”

She added:

“I think a big thing was our physicality and our aggression. We didn’t sit back, we kept going. I thought people kept working. Our lungs and legs kept going. We were able to go to the end. I thought set-piece in terms of lineout, look we got two tries from driving mauls. That was something we wanted to work on from last week and two tries from a maul? I’ll take that.”

stacey-flood-kicks-a-conversion Stacey Flood kicking a conversion for Ireland. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland out-half Stacey Flood shares the sentiments of her captain. She made an appearance off the bench in the second half of the France clash, kicking an impressive try conversion from a tricky angle in the closing minutes.

Flood comes into the 15s squad from the Sevens unit at the outset of this campaign, and picked up some more game time this weekend after featuring against Wales in Ireland’s Six Nations opener.

“It’s amazing. Obviously, it’s great to have the opportunity to come into 15s because we’ve been in the Sevens set-up for so long. Just the amount I have learned personally and the girls who’ve come in as well, it’s just amazing in such a short amount of time.

“To be able to open your eyes to a new game, a new tactical game. It’s just great experience and I know a lot of bad has come from Covid but it’s great to have that opportunity to play 15s and get capped as well. So, really happy with that.

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“I came on and I was told just to play what you see, play ball. And I suppose as a Sevens player, that’s all you want to do, just throw the ball around. It was a bit windy but we had the wind with us in the second half, lucky enough. And got a few kicks in so just happy trying to get the ball out to the fast wingers we have.

“So, happy enough but obviously there’s a lot of stuff to work on as well. You always learn more from a loss than a win anyway.”

Remarking on what she felt was the difference between the sides in Energia Park, Flood insists that Ireland’s error count contributed a lot to the big scoreline.

And as Ireland face into a battle against Italy next weekend for a third-place finish in the 2021 Six Nations, she feels Ireland’s mistakes can be rectified before that showdown.

“We knew it was going to be a different battle but I wouldn’t say it’s a massive step. I’d say they really capitalised on our own errors and we didn’t capitalise on their errors even though we were forcing errors.

“So I think last weekend [against Wales] we did capitalise on errors and this weekend we didn’t. They weren’t leaps and bounds ahead of anyone. I think it was just on the day, they took their chances and we didn’t.

“It’s easily fixed. Our handling is easily fixed and we’ll be well able to fix those mistakes this week.” 

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