Last Saturday marked the end of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and the end of the first tournament for the Irish rugby team under Greg McWilliams.
England were crowned Grand Slam winners and claimed the Six Nations title for the fourth time in a row, leaving France as runners up. Wales claimed the third place spot on the table with Ireland at fourth, followed by Italy and Scotland.
“I think they’ll be very happy with fourth” said former Irish international player Hannah Tyrrell on the Her Sport Six Nations Show.
“We saw a lot of really good moments… I thought Sam Monaghan and Neve Jones have been a revelation this tournament, Linda Djougang also...we’ve blooded a lot of new players. A lot of younger players who maybe only came in with one or two caps now have gotten more exposure and so it’s been a successful campaign in that regard” said Tyrrell.
Ireland finished 4th in the @Womens6Nations 🇮🇪,but who was your player of the tournament?!
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Ireland’s first match of the campaign resulted in a disappointing loss against Wales at home in the RDS.
While the loss meant the target of three home wins from three couldn’t be achieved, two home wins still makes all the difference according to Tyrrell.
“The Wales game aside- a successful tournament” Tyrell told HerSport, “Coming in to it we obviously wanted to get performances and results but at the end of the day we were looking at that squad and that new management...we were looking to build depth and experience and I think we’ve set ourselves on the right path to do that”.
The game against Wales also marked the first outing for new skipper Nichola Fryday.
“I just want us to go out and put our hearts on the line for every match” the 26-year-old told HerSport ahead of the campaign, “that’s my aim for the tournament”.
Two months on from her debut as captain Fryday has impressed in her role despite being “a little shaky” at first.
“[Fryday] probably wasn’t use to that role and that pressure management that was going on, maybe she wasn’t quite use to talking to the ref and trying to figure out what was going on but I think she really grew into that role particularly in the England game.. I really think she stepped up” said Tyrrell.
Fryday’s aim of the team putting their heart on the line came to fruition in their final game of the tournament against Scotland in Kingspan Stadium. Despite Scotland’s six point lead at the 80 minute mark, Ireland’s attack got Enya Breen over the line and a subsequent conversion meant McWilliam’s side got the win.
"For Enya to score that try, and pick herself back up and have to take the conversion kick was massive"
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“There’s that belief, that pride in the jersey, that we don’t come off the pitch without a win. I’m just so proud of that performance” said Fryday after the game, “it wasn’t perfect, but we kept going and that’s the type of a team we are trying to build that we won’t give up”.
Despite the last minute success in Belfast there are a few key areas to work on according to Tyrrell, namely the teams discipline, or lack thereof, which saw them give away three penalties to the Scots last weekend.
“It’s been a theme of this championship for this Irish team. Continuously being put under pressure and being forced into giving away penalties every time and the problem is that if they’re in your own half and you're giving away penalties good teams will hurt you. Especially teams that have good kickers and we saw that with Scotland at the weekend”.
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While this year marked a changing era for Irish rugby with new management, a host of new players and the possibility of new contracts, the next Six Nations will see the pressure increase for the Irish side according to Tyrrell, with a lot of people “expecting more complete performances”.
“They should be more comfortable with the system that Greg and his management are trying to play. They should be much more cohesive with each other because there was a lot of chopping and changing with certain partnerships this year and positional changes. They should be more cohesive as a whole and much more use to playing with each other” Tyrrell told HerSport.
“Those younger players will have a lot more international experience come the next Six Nations and hopefully we can get those three away wins next year and actually start to compete a little bit with France and England. That would be a really really successful campaign”.
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The Her Sport Six Nations Show is brought to you by Opel. Follow all the 2022 Six Nations action throughout the Championships with expert analysis, previews, interviews and a lot of laughs! Opel are the exclusive car partner of the IRFU.