| 12.8°C Dublin

Doyle moves to step three

IRELAND Women's head coach Philip Doyle is looking no further than Saturday's final group match against Kazahkstan after his side's historic win over champion New Zealand in the Women's Rugby World Cup in France yesterday.

Doyle oversaw last year's memorable Grand Slam triumph and he dismissed the idea that defeating the world's top-ranked side was a bigger achievement than the 2013 Six Nations clean sweep.

"No, we've just won a game in the World Cup. We've now got one foot inside a semi-final of a World Cup, and that is as far as it is," he said.

"We've achieved nothing until the final whistle of the tournament. It's just a group game in a World Cup - though a very big group game - but no, we've got a lot to go yet."

He did admit that he was proud of the team's superb victory over New Zealand in Marcoussis.

"To be honest I am speechless. I am so proud of the girls. They've worked incredibly hard and there has always been this performance in us.


"Things didn't go perfectly and we have a lot to work on. A few things malfunctioned but we kept to the task and we got the result."

The two tries-to-one success over the Black Ferns is a serious breakthrough for Ireland at this level, especially as they now have a real opportunity to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The wins over the USA and New Zealand have Ireland topping Pool B by two points, with Kazakhstan, who have coughed up try-scoring bonus points in both of their pool games to date, their round 3 opponents.

Doyle coached Ireland at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, earning eighth and seventh place finishes respectively, but the landscape of Irish Women's rugby has changed a huge amount since then.

Now, in the space of about 16 months, this Fiona Coghlan-led Irish squad has won a first ever Triple Crown and Grand Slam, played at the Aviva Stadium and Twickenham, beaten England, France and New Zealand and had three of their Six Nations games broadcast live on RTÉ Television.

Amid increasing levels of public and media interest, TG4 are showing all three of Ireland's pool games at the World Cup live from France as well as the semi-finals and final of the tournament.

That leads to more pressure on the girls to perform and get results, but Doyle says his players' unwavering self-belief helped them pull of arguably the biggest shock in Women's Test rugby history.

"You need self-belief and this team has the self-belief that we can do something special and we just proved it out there. Was it a perfect game of rugby? No. Is there such a thing?

"We had to win, and the girls just applied themselves - as they did with the USA game - exceptionally well. Tactically I thought they were superb. Thank you to Greg McWilliams, our attack coach, really a lot of tribute has to go to Greg.

"What really made the difference today was our defence, and when we wanted to attack we attacked in a certain way."

Doyle concluded: "We analyse teams nearly to death sometimes, but we did notice in previous games that New Zealand can crack under pressure.

"Now we look to the next game, Kazakhstan. Step three in our little plan. That is all we are looking at."