PARIS, France – The Final in ’14 motto is now being put to the test as the Women’s Eagles open the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 against Ireland Friday. The two Pool B members square off at the FFR Headquarters in Marcoussis.
Kickoff for the match is set for 11:00 A.M. ET with coverage being provided by Universal Sports.
A defensive-minded Ireland will be a big test for the Eagles, who are looking to break a 16-year drought of reaching the World Cup Final.
“We are looking forward to the test Ireland presents,” said Pete Steinberg, head coach of the Eagles. “They are one of the best teams in Europe and we will know a lot about ourselves by the end of the game.”
The Eagles will need to break the expected staunch Irish defense while handling a forward-heavy attack from the opposition, as well. While the forwards are expected to be a main focus of the game, so too is the ability to limit the dynamic backs of Ireland.
“Winning the tackle contest will be tough and we know they have a great lineout,” commented Steinberg. “[Niamh] Briggs is a really dynamic runner and they play a dynamic, wide game.”
Briggs has booted her way to a team-leading 31 points during the 2014 campaign, through four appearances for the Irish. The fullback also accounted for the only Irish points scored against the Eagles during the 2010 World Cup.
While defense will need to be at the forefront of this match, the Eagles will be looking to generate as many points as possible against the 2013 RBS 6 Nations champion.
Ireland owns a 2-70-1 record when allowing 13 or more points in a match. Victories over Netherlands in 1991 (21-18) and Italy in 20089 (35-17) stand as the only times in team history that an opponent has broken the unlucky number and Ireland has won the match. Ireland tied France, 22-22, in 2008.
The Eagles have been able to reach that mark in each of their four victories over Ireland. Holding a 4-1-0 record against the Irish, the Eagles have been able to tally 23 or more points in series wins.
Ireland’s lone series victory came during the 2010 World Cup, at which the Eagles were defeated, 22-12, during pool play.
However, the Eagles were able to avenge the loss shortly after. In the fifth-eighth place semifinal, the Eagles won the most recent meeting between the sides, 40-3.
Vanesha McGee dotted down a try in the 2010 match. The wing will be looking to have a similar performance to the last contest as well as build on her recent scoring success.
McGee accounted for at least one try in each of her appearances during the U.K. Tour this summer. The U.K. Tour featured a match against Wales and a scrimmage and test against England. The contests served as the final preparations for the Eagles before heading to Paris.
Eight others are rejoining McGee and the Women’s Eagles from the 2010 squad. Jamie Burke, Sharon Blaney, Emilie Bydwell, Lynelle Kugler, Nathalie Marchino, Naima Reddick, Hannah Stolba, and Kittery Wagner have also been named to the current squad.
Blaney, Bydwell, Marchino, and Reddick played in the last match against Ireland during the 2010 World Cup. Stacey Bridges came on as a reserve in the match and has been selected as a World Cup reserve for the Eagles this time around.
Number-eight Kate Daley has been tabbed as captain for the Eagles against Ireland. Daley captained the team during the U.K. Tour matches.
“This has been an amazing three-year journey for the team and we are excited for the challenge of playing Ireland,” remarked Daley on being named match captain.
The Eagles will now put their motto of “Final in ‘14” to the test. The slogan is derived from the team’s desire to make it to the Final of the 2014 World Cup – a feat that has not been accomplished by the Eagles since 1998.
The Eagles have reached the World Cup Final three times in their history. They were able to capture the inaugural Women’s World Cup, but fell in the following tournament in 1994.
Following the match, the Eagles will look to face Kazakhstan Aug. 5. Kickoff for the second match in pool play is set for 7:00 A.M. ET.
Get an inside glimpse at the team’s World Cup experience by reading the ‘Final in ‘14’ blog posts. Players and coaches give insight as to how daily events are helping the team prepare to meet the desired goal.
Women's Eagles | v Ireland
1. Hope Rogers
2. Kathryn Augustyn
3. Jamie Burke
4. Carmen Farmer
5. Sarah Walsh
6. Jillion Potter
7. Lynelle Kugler
8. Kate Daley (C)
9. Jocelyn Tseng
10. Kimberly Rozier
11. Sadie Anderson
12. Emilie Bydwell
13. Akalaini "Bui" Baravilala
14. Vanesha McGee
15. Meya Bizer
Ireland | Starting XV
1. Fiona Coghlan (C)
2. Gillian Bourke
3. Ailis Egan
4. Sophie Spence
5. Marie Louise Reilly
6. Siobhan Fleming
7. Claire Molloy
8. Heather O'Brien
9. Tania Rosser
10. Nora Stapleton
11. Alison Miller
12. Grace Davitt
13. Lynne Cantwell
14. Ashleigh Baxter
15. Niamh Briggs
Ireland | Reserves
16. Sharon Lynch
17. Fiona Hayes
18. Laura Guest
19. Paula Fitzpatrick
20. Larissa Muldoon
21. Jenny Murphy
22. Jackie Shiels
Women's Eagles | IRB Women's Rugby World Cup 2014
v Ireland - Friday, August 1 - 11:00 A.M. ET
v Kazakhstan - Tuesday, August 5 - 7:00 A.M. ET
v New Zealand - Saturday, August 9 - 12:00 A.M. ET