I caught up with Lauren and Eliza after the Ireland v Scotland 7th Place Match over in Guildford on Sunday afternoon. Eliza had just scored two tries in Ireland’s 32 – 8 win and Lauren was busy organising the Irish supporters section in the main stand!
Both girls enjoyed their World Cup experience, despite some difficult days, and I must admit I was particularly impressed by the overall standard of rugby on display throughout the tournament.
No way as physical as the men’s game but it compared very favourably on the skills front, reminding me off the days when you had to out-think your opponents and not just out-muscle them.
I’m already looking forward to the next finals in four years time.
What do you think of your World Cup experience Eliza?
A couple of us were chatting the other night, just reflecting on the last three weeks and I think the term emotional rollercoaster wouldn’t be pushing it too far. Highs, lows but the crack’s been great and the experience has been second to none. It sort of blows your mind!
At the start when I was on the bench I needed to keep motivated and wait for my chance to come. Finally then in the third game I got a start, and a try, against Kazakhstan, but even the experience of playing a full match at international level was just a brilliant experience for myself. To learn what it’s like to be on the pitch for a full 80 minutes of an international and play all the way through was simply fantastic.
In the semi final we had a few lows against the USA the second time around. I try not to think about it now but on the day it just didn’t come together at all for us. However, I think it’s testament to our spirit the way we’ve come back after such disappointments, just failing to make the top four on points difference and then to lose to the US were big blows but we’ve come back today to beat Scotland and finish 7th in the World. It’s one up on last time round and going into the next World Cup we’ll be pushing again as we know that this time round we were on the cusp of something really, really special.
You scored two tries today. How did that feel?
It was fantastic experience, particularly the second, but as you can see today both tries were real team efforts, the ball was moved through a lot of pairs of hands before it got to me. A big team effort and when the team plays well it brings you on to up your game. It was a great feeling personally but it’s great to be able to contribute to the team as a whole.
There’s been great Irish support at all the matches. How’s that helped you?
Fantastic! The Irish are in town and they’ve made their presence felt with the songs, the chanting, the flags the colours, coming form all over Ireland. It’s meant a lot to the team to have the supporters here match after match and we’ve really appreciated it.
Definitely, personally, the support from Ulster at home, through the Ulster Branch, the FRU, from Cooke and from all the clubs at home has been overwhelming and it’s really made me push to get on the team. It’s this sort of support that drives you through the three weeks of a World Cup.
There’s been quite a bit of interest in, and more than a few messages left on, your blog. Do you have any words for your readers?
Yeah! I’ve written back a few times and I’d really like to thank everyone that’s visited the blog and taken the time to leave a message. It’s been good fun reading the comments.
When I wasn’t making the team it was great to be able to log on and see that people are behind you, willing you on, and they want you to do well and represent Ulster well and play for your country. It really meant a lot and without that sort of support it would have been easy to drop the head, it’s been second to none!
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Lauren, how’s your World Cup Experience been?
It’s been brilliant being here with the girls! It’s been a different journey in comparison to theirs but it’s one I’ve enjoyed and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come over.
I hear you’ve been organising the cheer-leading section for the Ireland Supporters?
To be fair it’s been a bit like rent-a-crowd with the Ireland Supporters. We’ve had so many people over supporting Ireland that the other teams have been asking us to stay around after the Ireland games and cheer for them!
We’ve songs and song sheets organised and today we’ve a bus coming to take 50 Ireland supporters to the Stoop for the finals – don’t know if it’s been decided who we’re going to support yet but it’s all been great fun.
The morale had been brilliant, especially on the sidelines and speaking to the players they have really, really appreciated the support.
Is the experience going to make you more determined to get back in the team for next time?
Yeah, definitely! While I’ve had great fun supporting I must admit that there have been times when it’s been heartbreaking to be on the sidelines watching instead of playing.
But, everything happens for a reason, and this experience is just going to make me a fitter, stronger, faster player because I now know what needs to be done.