Source: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Rugby – A Crowded Week

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Claire Molloy

Ireland’s dramatic exclusion from the World Cup has taken its toll. Amid a clamour for the heads of the people seen as responsible for this unexpected shock, comes news of the retirement of one of Ireland’s great, Claire Molloy. Tributes have poured in from all sectors of the game. Her 74 caps have been earned while she remained a true amateur; Dr. Claire Molloy will be much missed from the international rugby field, one of the outstanding open-side flankers of the age.

Katie Alder

Wasps have been missing another favourite figure, their captain, Katie Alder. Now we know the reason why. The club hopes to welcome another young Wasp to its number in a decade or two. Congratulations. In the meantime the co-captain, Claudia Macdonald, will hold the fort.

Kristine Sommer

The US international who has played for Harlequins in the Prem 15s twice before, makes a welcome return to England. But she will be playing for Gloucester-Hartpury, which will represent a very different environment for her. The Glos-Pury pack will benefit from her presence.

Two Stars

Two women have taken the world of rugby by storm over the past week.

Sara Cox received a chorus of approval after becoming the first woman to officiate a Gallagher Premiership game at the Stoop last weekend. And she had to wait patiently for the honour after her original appointment at Worcester last June had to be called off for the usual sad reason; Covid restrictions. One more glass ceiling has cracked.

Jasmine Joyce is the toast of world rugby sevens with a repeat performance of her magician’s turn in Canada. After leading GB Sevens to the gold medal at the Vancouver Fast Four last week, she put on an even more breathtaking show at Edmonton, wowing the locals and livestream viewers worldwide.


Scott Forrest will come away from these two events with mixed feelings: elated that the squad played so well; delighted that the newcomers proved their worth; disappointed that his was the only team present with a leavening of experience; and concerned that Team GB’s future existence is still shrouded in doubt. It is high time for decisions to be made at high level. The players, men and women, deserve to know their fate.

The Allianz Premier 15s

The AP 15s start up again next Saturday 2 October. The fixtures:

Bristol Bears v Sale Sharks KO 2pm
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps KO 2pm (live stream)
DMP Durham Sharks v Loughborough Lightning KO 3pm
Gloucester-Hartpury v Harlequins KO 4.15pm (live stream)
Worcester Warriors v Saracens KO 5.30pm

Black Ferns in Town

After that fourth round it will be just a month to the keenly awaited autumn international series, starting with the hottest potato of all, a clash with the Black Ferns at Sandy Park, Exeter on 31 October. Unfortunately the new East Stand will not be open for custom till the new year, but a large expectant crowd is sure to be in attendance. The Red Roses haven’t welcomed New Zealand to these shores for five years, but on a tour there in 2017 they gained one of their most memorable victories.

There is added piquancy because France will then take on the Ferns in two test matches on the 13th and 20th November. In recent times Les Bleues have found it easier beating the world champions than the Quinze de la Rose, lowering their colours twice in a row.