Philip “Goose” Doyle, Ireland Women’s most successful coach, by some margin, was announced at the new Scotland Women’s Coach yesterday afternoon.

The former Ulster Women’s coach, leaves his role at Blackrock RFC Women to replace Shade Munro who took up an academy coaching role at Scottish Rugby in March.

It’s an excellent move by Scottish Rugby, who have secured the services of one of the top coaches in the Women’s game, but it’s also a move that will severely impact Ireland Women’s chances of qualification for the 2021 World Cup.  Scotland and Ireland will both be fighting for the same qualification spots in the 2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Championship in September 2020 and/or possible involvement in the final qualification repechage sometime in 2021.

Doyle led Ireland Women through their most successful period ever between 2010 and 2014.

In the 2010 World Cup, an Eliza Downey and Niamh Briggs inspired Ireland beat Scotland in the 7th place playoffs and over the next four years Doyle built the team into one of the best in the World, completing a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013 and a fourth place finish in the 2014 World Cup, beating New Zealand in the pool stages. The team peaked at No 2 in the World Rankings during this period.

With the IRFU choosing to focus it’s attentions and finances on the Sevens programme, it has largely been the legacy players from the Doyle era that held the XV’s performances together. However, as the legacy players have retired, over the intervening years, the Ireland Women’s performances have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

The euphoria built around the 2014 performances quickly evaporated during a disastrous 2017 World Cup campaign, in Dublin and Belfast, and they slumped to their worst ever Six Nations finish this season, only winning one game – ironically against Scotland.

The move by Doyle, to our near neighbours in Scotland, will certainly add a bit of spice to the World Cup qualification process and with a bit of luck it might actually force the IRFU to rethink its current Women’s coaching set up.

With Anthony Eddy likely to focus on the Men’s Sevens side, now they have qualified for the World Series, and Adam Griggs likely to be shuffled somewhere into the Women’s Sevens programme it’s time to bring in someone to reinvigorate the XV’s programme. The only problem is, the best candidate has just taken up another job!

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