Despite a narrow quarter-final defeat to Scotland at the Women’s Grand Prix Sevens Series in Kazan, Ireland secured bronze with back-to-back wins against Spain and Italy.
A youthful side filled with promising young stars were included in the Irish squad to take part in the final round of the Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series. Megan Burns, Anna Doyle, Brittany Hogan and Emily Lane earned their first caps – all graduates from the IRFU Women’s Development pathway.
The Kazan 7’s are the second and final tournament of the Rugby Europe Women's Sevens Grand Prix Series. The first tournament took place in Marcoussis France, where Ireland claimed Bronze after comprehensively beating England 39-7 in the Bronze Final.
Ireland were drawn into Pool C for the Kazan event, with England, Italy and Poland in their group. After a 17-14 defeat to Poland in the opening pool game, Ireland showed great character to recover and finish runners-up in the pool.
Try’s from Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Hannah Tyrrell helped them see off Italy 12-7. Later on in the day, they ran out comprehensive winners against England. A brilliant all-round display saw Ireland score five tries to zero and run out 27-0 winners. Megan Burns touched down for her first two tries in an Ireland jersey.
Next up for Ireland would be a star-studded Scotland team boasting nine full Rugby Union 15’s internationals. Despite a mismatch for experience, Ireland held their own and can count themselves unfortunate to have been defeated 17-15.
Scotland took the lead in the fourth minute before a beautifully worked move from Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Claire Keohane opened up the gap for Claire Boles to cross over the whitewash. Despite the Irish pressure, Scotland capitalised on an interception and went into the half-time break leading 12-5. Soon after the break, Hannah Tyrrell continued her impressive form as she showed the Scotland defence a clean pair of heels to narrow the gap to 12-10.
Megan Burns who scored two tries against England in her debut tournament in the green jersey again made a stunning impact off the bench. A dazzling run between two Scottish defenders saw Ireland regain the lead 15-12. However, it wasn’t to be as with seconds remaining on the clock, a turnover in possession from a set-piece saw Scotland snatch victory late on and end Ireland’s hopes of claiming the cup.
Despite this disappointment, Ireland had fifth place to play for in the final rounds. First up was Spain and all four new caps started the encounter. Try’s from Anna McGann and Hannah Tyrrell were enough to seal victory for the girls in green, 14-5. Anna McGann showed great pace and stamina as she converted a 80-metre breakaway try.
In the 5th-6th Place Play-Off, Ireland faced Pool C opponents Italy. The attacking prowess of Ireland was too much for the Italians to handle as some great hands and lines opened up the Italian defence on countless occasions. Emily Lane bagged two tries for Ireland whilst Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird and Hannah Tyrrell scored one each. This was Tyrrell’s sixth try of the tournament having scored in every game. Ireland ran out 28-10 winners.
Despite the disappointment of losing to Scotland, Ireland will be proud of their finish to the European campaign. A third place overall finish in the series, coupled with invaluable experience for a young squad will undoubtedly stand to this promising squad in the future. Next up is the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Series which kicks off in Colorado in 7 weeks time.