Ireland boss McWilliams full of pride despite suffering heavy TikTok Women's Six Nations defeat

·3-min read
Ireland slipped to a defeat against England in the TikTok Women's Six Nations
Ireland slipped to a defeat against England in the TikTok Women's Six Nations

By Rachel Steinberg at Mattioli Woods Welford Road

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams urged his side to hold their heads high after limiting England to two tries in the first half of their 69-0 loss at Welford Road.

With multiple players called away on sevens duty, McWilliams was forced to make several changes ahead of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations clash with a Red Roses side bolstered by the return of 2021 World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year Zoe Aldcroft.

Ireland went toe-to-toe with the hosts in the opening exchanges, frustrating a Red Roses side that came within inches of a third try throughout the first 40 minutes and forcing six turnovers before the break.

“Talking to [England head coach] Simon [Middleton] afterwards, he thought that was the best contest [we’ve] had for a long time against an England side which gives us great hope,” said McWilliams.

“Can we go and do that now for 80 minutes? We did it for a half, and I think it shows that there is maybe a fitness difference and power difference between the two, and all we can do now is go back to the drawing board and put together a plan that’s going to make us get better and be able to compete more.

“Separating the emotion and the process is tough because you look at the scoreline, and it’s easy to be disappointed, but when you look at the process in the first half, I think that’s probably one of the best first halves I’ve been involved with in terms of the group sticking to tactics.”

Ireland were dealt a scare in the second half as Eimear Considine was stretchered off with injury, McWilliams admitting “realistically we are thinking about planning for Scotland [next weekend] without” the winger.

“It’s just another challenge,” he added. “We’ve had a few, haven’t we, in this Six Nations?”

Still, skipper Nichola Fryday added that her squad had every reason to celebrate their performance.

“I’m extremely proud of them for that,” she said. “We really brought it to England for that first 40 minutes, and then they showed that they’re world-class in that second half.

“England’s’ set piece is a real weapon that they have, and we tried different ways of diffusing it.

“But you can’t question the girls’ fight throughout that whole match. It was world-class, and that’s what we need to strive to get better at and be able to handle that kind of pressure.”

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is more accessible than ever before. To find out how you can watch the Women’s Championship visit: womens.sixnationsrugby.com/tv/

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