Wafer hails shots fired by Ireland in France defeat

Aoife wafer pic
Aoife Wafer praised Ireland for ‘firing shots’ against France and backed her side to make home advantage count against Italy in Round 2. 

Wafer, 21, impressed in the back row in Le Mans and crossed for her country's first try of the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations late in the second half. 

That was later added to by another from her namesake Aoife Dalton as the visitors finished impressively in the 38-17 defeat, France running in five tries of their own to begin their Championship on a high. 

“You can see the work we’re doing on the training ground and the work Declan Danaher is doing in defence,” Wafer said. 

“Our defence really stood up today, we scrambled, we did our best and put our foot to the metal when it mattered. We never gave up. We were here to fire shots and I think we fired some. 

“We are going to keep going, keep showing up and keep fighting. That’s what we are here for.” 

Ireland were beaten 53-3 by Les Bleues on the way to finishing sixth in 2023 but came into this year’s Championship fresh from some confidence-boosting performances under new head coach Scott Bemand in WXV 3. 

Pauline Bourdon Sansus crossed within three minutes to spark potential fears of another heavy defeat but the visitors defended stoutly, frustrating France until Marine Menager crossed for a second. 

The home pack showed their strength in the second period, with Madoussou Fall, Agathe Sochot and Elisa Riffoneau crossing, but Ireland’s late double showed what they could do as an attacking force. 

Wafer hopes they can take that momentum into their Round 2 clash with Italy next weekend and has called on the Irish public to create a raucous atmosphere akin to that inside the Sade Marie-Marvingt on opening weekend. 

“We are going to get some wins and next week is another chance back home at the RDS,” she added. 

“There is a huge crowd here and you can hear them spurring the French on every second of the game. We wanted to quieten that crowd.  

“If you can imagine us playing at the RDS in front of the same number, it would be spectacular. It would make the hairs on your arms stand up and we encourage our fans to come out and support us.”

For France, it was a case of getting a first win on the board despite it perhaps not being as comfortable as they expected after last year's dominant victory.

But Gaelle Mignot insisted it is a solid foundation from which to build as they seek to dethrone England come the end of the Championship.

She said: "We wanted to start the competition well and we have done. We cannot forget that this was the first match.

"We are a national team, we don't spend a lot of time together. Last time we played a competitive match was in the autumn. So we are pleased with what the players tried to do.

"We are pleased with the work put in. We wanted to kick off well, we have. Mission accomplished."