SWORDS woman Lynne Cantwell missed out on Ireland’s third-fourth place play-off against France last Sunday in the women’s Rugby World Cup in France through injury but was, nonetheless, one of the stars of an incredible tournament for the national side.
Concussion sustained in the semi-final against England forced the country’s most capped player out but she was still among the main candidates for the team of the tournament for the outside centre berth,
It was a particularly competitive area with Emily Scarratt, Mandy Marchak, Sharni Williams, Huriana Manuel and Cantwell all enjoying good tournaments with gold medallist Scarratt eventually getting the nod.
Cantwell, though, produced some key moments, notably as the death of the famous win over New Zealand – the first time an Irish senior side has been the kiwis – with a crunching tackle to maintain the 17-15 lead.
She duly captained the side in the 40-5 win over Kazakhstan in the third group win to ensure semi-final progression having earlier defeated USA 23-17.
Ireland’s run came to an end at the final four stage but it was, nonetheless, a ground-breaking series of results with skipper Fiona Coghlan in her final tournament hailing the efforts of Cantwell and the rest of the team in the wake of the tournament.
The Irish captain hailed the current squad as “an amazing bunch of girls”, agreeing that it was an amazing achievement to secure a top four finish albeit that “losing two games (at the business end of the tournament) isn’t how you want to finish”.
“We reached our goal of being in the top four. Obviously when you get to the top four, you want more. We didn’t quite get there but we reached our goals and we’re leaving the jersey and the ranking in a better place than coming into the competition.”
Sunday marked Coghlan’s 85th cap in the front row with the durable loosehead prop ending her career as Ireland’s second most-capped player behind her good friend Cantwell.
“My first World Cup was in 2006 and I suppose we were lucky to finish eighth. The last World Cup we finished seventh. But in the last three years, we’ve moved the game on so much and we’re playing a type of rugby that is good to watch.
“The standard of the players coming into the game now is great, and to finish fourth for Ireland is a great place to be. It bodes well for the future.”