Friday 20 October 2017

Ireland Women dare to dream in Grand Slam showdown

Nullifying the threat of Wilson is likely to fall on the shoulders of Hannah Tyrrell, pictured, centre. Photo: Darren Griffiths/SPORTSFILE
Nullifying the threat of Wilson is likely to fall on the shoulders of Hannah Tyrrell, pictured, centre. Photo: Darren Griffiths/SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Kay Wilson almost looked embarrassed at the ease with which she ran in her seventh try of the game.

By the 44th minute of Saturday's 12-try rout of a diabolical Scotland side, the speedy winger had already equalled the Women's Six Nations try-scoring record (five), which was set by France's Elodie Poublan in 2011 against. . . you guessed it, Scotland.

Not content with matching Poublan's feat, Wilson added another two tries but amazingly, it still wasn't a world record. That honour still belongs to Vanessa Cootes, who helped herself to nine tries in the Black Ferns' demolition of France in 1996.

"It was so much fun," Wilson beamed afterwards. And why wouldn't she as her free-scoring England side arrive in Dublin on Friday with a Grand Slam firmly in their sights.

Unlike their male counterparts' challenge the following day, however, there will be no talk of Ireland aiming to spoil England's party as the home side chase their own Grand Slam dream.

There is no way of sugar-coating it: a mammoth task lies ahead for Ireland, and coach Tom Tierney has already branded it as his side's "hardest game".

England Women's Kay Wilson. Photo: Rachel Holborn - CameraSport via Getty Images
England Women's Kay Wilson. Photo: Rachel Holborn - CameraSport via Getty Images

England have been in utterly devastating form throughout the Six Nations and have racked up 182 points, including a staggering 31 tries in their four games. To put that into perspective, second-placed Ireland who are also unbeaten, have scored 74 points and just 11 tries.

England changed the landscape of women's rugby in the northern hemisphere when they turned professional last year. France are expected to follow.

Director of women's rugby in Ireland Anthony Eddy confirmed to the Irish Independent last month that the IRFU do not have any immediate plans to turn the women's game professional.

Nullifying the threat of Wilson is likely to fall on the shoulders of Hannah Tyrrell but there is a responsibility on the Ireland pack to stop the ball getting to the wide channels.

Marlie Packer is ferocious at the breakdown and that's not to mention centre Emily Scarratt who was the creator-in-chief for Wilson.

It's difficult to disagree with Tierney's assessment about the scale of the St Patrick's Day test as the World champions click into gear before the tournament takes place on these shores in August.

But Ireland want to be spoken about in the same breath as the best teams in the world. Winning a Grand Slam by beating this highly fancied, professional England team would earn them the right to do so.

Irish Independent

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