Ireland have set the Women’s Rugby World Cup alight and must now be considered as contenders for the title following their 17-14 win over New Zealand, former England full-back Vicky MacQueen says.
Ireland pulled off the biggest shock of the tournament when toppling the four-time world champions in the first ever meeting between the two sides on Tuesday.
New Zealand have not lost a World Cup match since 1991 and MacQueen believes the fearless Irish side did not allow themselves to be intimidated by the All Blacks.
“It’s been a great tournament anyway but Ireland really set it alight yesterday,” MacQueen told Sky Sports. “It’s been the best tournament and best standard of rugby there has ever been but to see Ireland pull it off was fantastic.
“They’ve been building towards this for a long time, they’ve been steadily getting better and better, and they have now sent a message to the rest of the teams in world rugby.
“And why can’t they win it? They can, they’ve not played New Zealand before so they don’t have a history of losing to them like other teams. “
“It was very much a clean slate for them and they went out there and did the job.”
Despite producing what some are calling one of the greatest shocks in women’s rugby, MacQueen believes Ireland would have been full of confidence going into the clash.
“I don’t think they will be surprised as everybody else,” she said. “I think Ireland had the inner belief that they could do it and it’s good for women’s rugby that someone has toppled the giants.
“They went out there and played their own game. They weren’t fazed by New Zealand and they kept the pressure up right to the end.
It was a fantastic performance and I think all the other teams will be secretly pleased because that result has really opened up the tournament, which is great for everyone.
“Now it will be interesting to see how New Zealand come back from their World Cup defeat because they haven’t had one since 1991.”