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Saturday 25 November 2017

Girls in Green show true grit as World Cup campaign kicks off

Ireland’s Sophie Spence celebrates with her mother Myrtle Spence after the match against Australia. Picture: PA
Ireland’s Sophie Spence celebrates with her mother Myrtle Spence after the match against Australia. Picture: PA

The Irish women's rugby team huffed and puffed but eventually blew away the challenge of Australia following a titanic struggle.

There was an air of expectation at the UCD Bowl yesterday as the hosts kicked off their bid for World Cup glory in style, but they were made to work very hard for the victory. Ireland won out 19-17 in the end but they had to come from behind and showed true courage and grit.

Former Ireland international David Corkery angered fans of women's rugby in the build-up to yesterday's game, quipping that God didn't create women to be "smashed in a tackle".

However, those who happily milled around the tournament village in Clonskeagh did not tend to agree with that assumption.

Former Ireland internationals Elise O’Byrne-White (26), Orla Fitsimons (35) and Katie Norris (28) at Ireland’s opening game.
Former Ireland internationals Elise O’Byrne-White (26), Orla Fitsimons (35) and Katie Norris (28) at Ireland’s opening game.

"I hope he saw the New Zealand game earlier," was the response of one supporter. Lions captain Peter O'Mahony was stunned at the sentiment, though he hadn't seen the comments.

"I think this can do nothing but good for women's rugby, for Irish rugby, for international rugby," O'Mahony said.

Former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan also didn't think the message made sense. "Everyone is entitled to their opinion - if it's not something they're into, it's grand," she said.

"I don't think you can come out and say women's bodies were made for rugby, I don't think men's bodies were necessarily made for rugby either and that would be my only gripe," she added.

The mini row provided a lively backdrop to the game but there was more serious business at hand - beating the Aussies.

Father of three daughters John Caffrey from Terenure said people would get behind the Girls in Green during the tournament.

"We think women's sport is great - the focus on women's sport, it's time it started cranking up now," he said. Killian Byrne from Ballinteer was there with his son Keith (12) and he is a regular attendee at women's matches.

"We go to the women's games a lot. The men's are quite expensive, because if I'm going, I've got to bring him with me. This has cost 25 quid and we can get any amount of games," he added.

So, there you have it - value for money and a first win under the belt as Japan await on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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