Brittany features in starting line up for Ireland against Spain

Brittany features in starting line up for Ireland against Spain

15 September 2021

KILLINCHY rugby star Brittany Hogan endured a bittersweet start to Ireland’s Rugby World Cup European qualifying campaign as her home nation lost their opening fixture to Spain on Monday.

The 21 year-old former Down High School student would have been pleased to have been given the number eight role in the starting line-up by manager Adam Griggs, but that euphoria soon turned to dismay after a frustrating evening in Parma, Italy.

Despite initially getting off the mark with an early Beibhinn Parsons try, Ireland failed to stretch their lead beyond the grasps of the Spaniards with the multiple opportunities they had to do so.

Even with a rocky opening half, Ireland still led 7-3 at half-time with encouraging signs that they could perhaps reappear after the interval in more of a clinical mood. 

However, there would be no further scoring for the green and white outfit as a Kathryn Dane knock-on disallowed an Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe try before Enya Breen’s penalty conversion fell short with seconds to go.

Hogan was replaced in the 54th minute for Edel McMahon to cap a frustrating night at the Italian city.

To add insult to injury, this was the first time Spain had beaten Ireland since 2005.

The Irish team now face an uphill battle when the face-off against hosts Italy, who are on a high after defeating Scotland 38-13 on Monday afternoon.

The team that finishes top in the round-robin tournament will secure a spot in Pool B at next year’s rescheduled Rugby World Cup while the runners-up will enter the final qualification tournament.

Meanwhile Newcastle’s Ashleigh Orchard made a return to rugby action after 999 days away from competition. The 29 year-old made Ulster’s starting 15 in their 12-12 draw with Connacht.