Seeing all the different nations announcing their World Cup squad brings back the emotions we had last year when we didn’t qualify, although it might not be as rough as some think.
It’s sad that we’re not there, but we’re still looking forward to the World Cup taking place and seeing all the teams that have worked towards it taking to the field. As bad as we don’t have to be there, it’s still the next step in women’s football.
I know well some of the Welsh and English girls I play with in Gloucester and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come. I watched Wales vs England last week and the result wasn’t great for Wales but they brought a physicality they didn’t have in the Six Nations – that’s a sign they’re building.
One of the girls returned to Cardiff for training earlier this week and that will be the last time I see her before she leaves. It was a sad goodbye, but we’re really excited to see her tear things up.
A lot of the girls I know personally have so much heart and struggle and I will be watching to support them. From our point of view, what’s done is done, we have to put that behind us so that we can be there for our club colleagues and support them as friends.
Of course, the big shock for all of us was that Mo Hunt didn’t make the England squad. I remember seeing her at the 2014 World Cup and she really excelled. She’s one of the players who inspired me to get through the youth system. I’m disappointed in her but out of selfishness I’m glad she’s back for Gloucester because we’re good friends and she brings so much energy to our team.
If I had to pick a winner now, bittersweet as I say it, I’d have to give it to England! They work hard, they’ve been on this incredible journey and created an incredible path, and Marlie Packer is an animal!
The French will give them good run for the money but they are a sharp team to watch. And I would like to see a Japanese star, you can see them develop and get better, they play a great brand of rugby. You deserve it.
For us, it’s a time to reflect on why we’re not there and how to avoid that happening again.
We’re always keen to promote the game in Ireland and to do that we need to move on and come together as a squad and I think during the Six Nations we had a bit of a fight around us. We took a lot from what happened there and we used that to build some mental resilience.
It’s not ideal not being there, but we’re determined to come back stronger than ever. I think it’s an ongoing, growing struggle. Even if you look at countries like England and New Zealand, they are constantly growing as a team, as a management, as a nation.
We’re getting there slowly and it’s really exciting to see how it’s unfolding over the last 12 months. The changes we’ve had and how we feel are completely different than after missing qualifying. We’re making the right decisions and going in the right direction, and we as players put a lot of burden on ourselves to do the extra work so we don’t experience that feeling again.
It’s a shame we’re not there because I think there are some of our girls who would have lit it in NZ. I think Sam Monaghan and Edel McMahon would have had particularly big tournaments.
Hopefully they get a chance to play in one. I know the last World Cup in Belfast was amazing so I hope we get the chance to experience that one day. I was only 17 or 18 years old in 2017, so wanting to put on the green jersey and want to work really hard for it was a really big step in my step.
My rugby journey started with World Cups. I was very heavily invested in 2014 and then 2017 was obviously so close to home. I will continue this journey and keep enjoying the game. I’m happy to see the numbers growing and hearing people talking about it and embracing the game.
Not many people talked about it in 2014 and 2017 so it’s great to see how many people are getting involved in the tournament before it even started and I really hope it stays that way throughout the tournament.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/rugby/a-world-cup-spot-is-the-peak-reward-for-effort-put-in-and-i-would-love-to-play-in-it-for-ireland-42013481.html Neve Jones: A World Cup spot is the peak reward for effort put in and I would love to play in it for Ireland