The Green Fields of France for Siobhán and Sharon

Irish Women's Rugby Internationals, Sharon Lynch (left) from with will join Currow neighbour, Siobhán Fleming are in France  for the World Cup which kicked off today.  ©Photograph: John Reidy
Irish Women’s Rugby Internationals, Sharon Lynch (left) from Castleisland joins Currow neighbour, Siobhán Fleming in France for the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicked off today with a win for the Irish over the USA. ©Photograph: John Reidy

We were all delighted with the news in early July that Castleisland native, Sharon Lynch had been called up to the Irish squad for the Women’s Rugby World Cup which kicked off in France today.

Irish Women’s Rugby head coach, Philip Doyle gave the Dublin domiciled Sharon the nod to join Currow’s Siobhán Fleming in the squad to travel to France for the competition.

The Old Belvedere forward, Sharon was delighted to make the cut and be part of the 26-woman squad for the tournament. Siobhán Fleming is an automatic choice by now and is part of the hard-wearing furniture of the Irish side. After today’s winning start against the Americans the Irish women go on to face tournament favourites, New Zealand on Tuesday, August 5th at 5pm. They’ll then take on Kazakhstan on Saturday, August 9th. at 12 noon.

The action this afternoon against the USA was fast and quite furious at times. Though Ireland got off to a flying start, and were ahead 20-10 at the half time whistle, they earned their win by the time the final act was played out.

A sustained period of American dominance, after their second half try, demanded every ounce of Irish experience and resilience.  Siobhán Fleming helped Ireland in no small way to break that spell and the game ended 23-17 in Ireland’s favour.

TG4  will broadcast Ireland’s remaining two Pool B games live as well as both semi-finals and finals. Ireland’s game against New Zealand will be televised live on Sky Sports.

Worrying though is the fact that New Zealand racked up an awesome score of 79 points earlier today against an unfortunate Kazakhstan. The New Zealanders have put down a marker in this competition. If it stays there it will be their fifth Rugby World Cup title in a row. Oh that cursed five-in-a-row raises its defiant head again. We’ll all send our best wishes to the Irish women and to our two locals, Siobhán and Sharon. 

In this morning’s issue of The Telegraph they gave a run-down on all the teams involved. The following is what they thought of Ireland and its opposition in Pool B:

New Zealand: Overwhelming favourites. They have won the last four competitions and beat England three times last year. Go in to the tournament in great form with victories over Australia, Canada and Samoa and a 3-0 Test whitewash over England last summer as well. The Women’s Sevens team have back-to back World Cup victories as well.

USA: Could cause problems. Beat Wales 10-7 at Cross Keys last month, and defeated Ireland in WRWC 2010. They also pushed England close last month. They won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 and finished runners-up in the following two. However, they have missed out on the semi-finals in the last three World Cups. Their game with Ireland will be the most important in deciding who qualifies from the group stage.

Ireland: The most improved side in women’s international rugby, having won a first Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013. They have slowly climbed up the world rankings since the 1990s and their highest finish in a World Cup was seventh. Funding, however, could be a hindrance but a place in the semi-finals is not out of reach for the Irish.

Kazakhstan: Just do not play the top sides enough to challenge. They did, though, win the Asian Four Nations tournament in May. Have featured in the last five World Cups, but have not progressed from the group stage in every one. Kazakhstan have not had any warm-up games, and are arguably in the toughest group, and will struggle to get out of it with their rivals using them as a way of getting bonus points.