Sunday 4 December 2016

Munster news: Irish are plunged into deep World Cup pool

Independent.ie Sportdesk

Published 11/11/2016 | 02:30

Clare McLaughlin, Niamh Briggs, Tom Tierney (Ireland Women’s coach) Nora Stapleton and Alison Miller at the Pool draw at Belfast City Hall. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Clare McLaughlin, Niamh Briggs, Tom Tierney (Ireland Women’s coach) Nora Stapleton and Alison Miller at the Pool draw at Belfast City Hall. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The Ireland Women's team have been drawn into Pool C of the Women's Rugby World Cup alongside Six Nations rivals France, the Australian Wallaroos and the winners of a round-robin tournament between Fiji, Japan and Hong Kong.

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The 12 competing teams were drawn by Women's Rugby World Cup chairman Bill Beaumont, Olympic gold medallist Mary Peters, Women's Rugby World Cup winner and former England player Maggie Alphonsi and former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan in Belfast on Wednesday.

Clonakilty No 8 John Hodnett leading the charge for the Ireland U-18 Clubs team against Portugal last Saturday
Clonakilty No 8 John Hodnett leading the charge for the Ireland U-18 Clubs team against Portugal last Saturday

Speaking after the draw, Munster and Ireland Women's captain Niamh Briggs said: "This is a huge opportunity for the Irish team. We've been drawn with France who we know well from the Six Nations, as well as Australia and then one of Fiji, Japan or Hong Kong so we will be looking forward to the challenge of taking on those teams.

"With the competition taking place in our own backyard, it gives the Irish fans a huge opportunity to bring as much passion and support to Dublin and Belfast as possible so we're looking forward to seeing lots of green at the venues next August."

Canada have been drawn in Pool A with New Zealand, Wales, and the runners-up of the Asia/Oceania round-robin. While Pool B will see defending champions England battle it out with USA and Italy and either Spain or Scotland, who will play-off for the final spot.

After the draw, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "The last Women's Rugby World Cup in France was a watershed moment for the women's game, with record crowds and massive TV audiences watching across the world.

"There are some fantastic matches in store in August and, with over two million women and girls currently playing the sport, I have no doubt that next year's Women's Rugby World Cup in Dublin and Belfast will be a fantastic event and encourage many more ladies to get involved with the sport"

IRFU president Stephen Hilditch commented: "It's a very exciting time for women's rugby in Ireland and a very exciting time for the IRFU as we get set to host a global tournament in both Dublin and Belfast. Wednesday's pool draw was another key milestone and it was great to see such a fantastic turn-out at Belfast City Hall. With nine months to go until the tournament begins in UCD, everyone in the IRFU is working hard to make it the most memorable Women's Rugby World Cup ever."

The competition takes place from August 9 to 26, with the pool games taking place in University College Dublin between the 9th and 17th. The play-off games and final set to be played in Belfast at Queen's University and Kingspan Stadium.

Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 Pools

Pool A: Canada, New Zealand, Wales, Asia/Oceania 2

Pool B: England, USA, Italy, Europe 1

Pool C: France, Ireland, Australia, Asia/Oceania 1

Maori All Blacks in Clonmel

High School CBS Clonmel trained with the Maori All Blacks on Wednesday following a competition across the province that saw clubs and schools submit their haka videos.

The former school of Munster second-row Dave Foley, High School CBS Clonmel's winning video shows the 1st year/U-14 rugby team performing the Haka led by Taine Walters, which you can view on www.munsterrugby.ie.

Taine's dad is from New Zealand and is a relative of current Maori All Blacks player Kara Prior, who won his first cap against the USA last Friday.

Taine's grandfather, Muru Walters, was also a Maori All Black and still holds the kicking record of 211 points.

High Schools CBS Clonmel are fielding two 1st year/U-14 teams this year for the first time and were able to enjoy a training session to remember ahead of tonight's game between Munster and the Maori All Blacks.

U-18 Reds in green

The Ireland U-18 Clubs team opened their season with an encouraging 46-12 victory over hosts Portugal in Jamor last week, with six Munster players involved.

It was the first time that this Ireland U-18 Clubs side came together under coaches Dan van Zyl and Munster coach development officer Brendan O'Connor.

A group from the Munster U-18 Clubs side that won the Interprovincial title earlier this year starred in the win.

Centre Evan O'Gorman captained the team, with Young Munster clubmate Conor Hayes starting at full-back. Garryowen's Harry Byrne was at out-half, with Clonakilty RFC's John Hodnett impressing at No 8.

Waterpark prop Harry Donnelly and Nenagh Ormond lock Evan Murphy made appearances off the bench.

Ireland had to weather an early storm as Portugal crossed for two tries inside the first 13 minutes, but the visitors tidied up their game and kicked on with some scores.

Hayes kicked a penalty and showed good strength to touch down in the second half, with Byrne adding three conversions.

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