The long wait is over and after months of preparation Ireland will open their 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup campaign when they take on Australia in the UCD Bowl this evening.
Interest from the Irish sporting public is massive with all of Ireland’s pool games at the Bowl sold out and expectations are high for this Irish team who won four of their five matches in the 2017 Women’s Six Nations and are currently number five in the world rankings.
Speaking ahead of tonights opener, Ireland skipper Claire Molloy (pictured above) said the team are “raring to go, we just want to play our first game”.
“It has been a long time coming, you prepare for a World Cup basically for three years and you are waiting for this one game to play so it is kind of electric.
“It’s overwhelming to think about the impact that it is going to have, the legacy that World Rugby and the IRFU have created with his tournament.
“The trophy tour in itself was phenomenal across the country. Growing up in Galway, we would see the Sam Maguire, but now they can see the World Cup trophy.”
The hosts will need to hit the ground running tonight as the margin for error in their Pool, which includes Japan and France as well as the Aussies, is tiny.
The 12 countries taking part are divided into three pools of four teams with the three pool winners and the best runner-up advancing to the semi-finals, while the remaining countries will face re-ranking playoff games that will determine whether they contest fifth-eighth or ninth-12th places.
There will be five matches for each country in total.
This format ensures an exciting three days of action, with six matches scheduled today, another six on Sunday and six more next Thursday, when New Zealand meet Canada and Ireland face France.
The Ireland team wrapped up their pre-tournament training last night with the Captain’s Run before they were presented with their jerseys by President Michael D Higgins.
Ireland (v Australia): 15 Hannah Tyrrell, 14 Eimear Considine, 13 Jenny Murphy, 12 Sene Naoupu, 11 Alison Miller, 10 Nora Stapleton, 9 Larissa Muldoon; 1 Lindsay Peat, 2 Cliodhna Moloney, 3 Ailis Egan, 4 Paula Fitzpatrick, 5 Marie-Louise Reilly, 6 Ashleigh Baxter, 7 Claire Molloy (capt), 8 Heather O’Brien
Replacements: 16 Leah Lyons, 17 Ruth O’Reilly, 18 Ciara O’Connor, 19 Sophie Spence, 20 Ciara Griffin, 21 Nicole Cronin, 22 Katie Fitzhenry, 23 Mairead Coyne
Australia: 1 Liz Patu, 2 Cheyenne Campbell, 3 Hilisha Samoa, 4 Chloe Butler, 5 Millie Boyle, 6 Mollie Gray, 7 Shannon Parry (capt), 8 Grace Hamilton; 9 Katrina Barker, 10 Trilleen Pomare, 11 Mahalia Murphy, 12 Sharni Williams, 13 Kayla Sauvao, 14 Nareta Marsters, 15 Samantha Treherne
Replacements: 16 Emily Robinson, 17 Violeta Tupuola, 18 Hana Ngaha, 19 Rebecca Clough, 20 Alisha Hewett, 21 Fenella Hake, 22 Sarah Riordan, 23 Ashleigh Hewson
Tonight: Ireland v Australia, Belfield Bowl (7pm)
Sunday, August 13th: Ireland v Japan, Belfield Bowl (5.15pm)
Thursday, August 17th: Ireland v France, Belfield Bowl (7.45pm)