Women’s rugby: Ireland-Scotland Six Nations finale could effectively become World Cup qualifier

Latest instalment of the old firm fixture affords opportunity for women in green to finish this tournament on a high

Whatever way the dice has fallen in the last few years, Ireland and Scotland have plenty of history lately and this Saturday’s 2024 Guinness Six Nations finale at the Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm) maintains that trend. Unless Italy win big in the first of the day’s triple-header in Cardiff, the Ireland-Scotland game could effectively become a World Cup qualifier.

Scotland eliminated Ireland in the European qualifying tournament for the last World Cup with the last play and last kick of the game in Parma in September 2021 when Sarah Law converted a try by Chloe Rollie, who has been suspended for this upcoming rematch after her red card in their win over Italy last weekend.

In April 2022, Ireland exacted a measure of revenge when Enya Breen converted her own try with the last kick of the game to seal a 15-14 win in the Kingspan Stadium. But last April, the Scots condemned Ireland to the wooden spoon with a 36-10 victory at the Hive Stadium in Edinburgh.

While this next instalment offers the chance to finish this Six Nations on a high, co-captain Sam Monaghan maintained: “We don’t want it to be as close as that coming into the last minute and having Enya Breen kicking the winner.


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“It’s important we get off to a fast start, get on top of them. The set piece will be crucial in this game, as it is in every game, and the breakdown. They’re big keys we want to hit this week heading into Saturday.”

As for the history, Monaghan admitted a tad ruefully that “there’s been a few close games” before adding of that heartbreaking loss in Parma: “That was my third cap, losing to Scotland in the last minute of the game.”

Indeed, Monaghan had only made her debut in the first of those qualifiers, a shock 8-7 loss to Spain, before Ireland beat Italy to set up that all-or-nothing clash with Scotland.

“Then we got them back at Kingspan. Last year, we weren’t performing and they came on top of us at the Hive. It’s been some close games, I’ve played with a lot of those girls in the PWR [Premiership Women’s Rugby], so there’s an expectation of knowing what they’re like,” added the Gloucester-Hartpury lock.

“They’re organised, but I think if we stick to our game plan and what we’ve been doing in the last few weeks against Italy and Wales, we’ll come out on top.”

The return of Monaghan, who missed the 88-10 defeat by England in Twickenham, is a boost. A significant victory by Italy in Cardiff beforehand could leave Ireland needing to win by a specific margin to gain that coveted third place. But the team’s co-captain is on board with Scott Bemand’s decision to convey any messages to the players regarding Italy’s result “as needed”.

She prefers instead to focus initially on the performance and the win, adding: “The home advantage is massive for us. The crowds we had at the RDS and Virgin Media Park were amazing, so to get another record crowd at Belfast will be great for our momentum and this team.”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times