THE BLOG

The Ultimate Test - England Women's World Cup Semi Final

13/08/2014 09:45 BST | Updated 12/10/2014 10:59 BST

Today England Women face their toughest test since that heartbreaking World Cup Final four years ago. In the 2014 tournament their job is only half done, their matches against Samoa and Spain were straightforward enough and the Canadians provided a physical and mental workout, however today's meeting with Ireland will be fiercest test of all.

It now comes down to eighty minutes of rugby after years of sweat, blood and tears. There isn't time to be scared or overawed by the repercussions of winning or losing, from one to twenty three Street's women must show unrelenting belief and deliver the game of their lives. They must leave nothing out there for this match is the first of two World Cup Finals. Ireland have shown that they are not afraid of anyone, their physicality is brutal and they are led by the brilliance and boot of Niamh Briggs. England have experience and history on their side. They are seasoned Semi Finalists however Ireland's weapon is momentum having arguably played the more complete World Cup campaign to date. 17-10 was the result of their previous meeting in the last Six Nations however this counts for nothing as this is knock out rugby and a place in the World Cup Final is at stake.

Physically the game will be brutal, in particular at the breakdown with the might of Maggie Alphonsi, Sarah Hunter and young Alex Matthews competing against Heather O'Brien, Claire Molloy and Paula Fitzpatrick. In the backs both sides have golden boots with the aforementioned Niamh Briggs and England's Emily Scarrett so penalties will be punished. England's half backs are hugely experienced, Captain Kay McLean and La Toya Mason have been there and done it all before and remain at the very top of their games whilst Nora Stapleton and Tania Rosser have a huge amount of flair themselves.

Collectively England must draw on every ounce of experience and make Ireland sweat from the word go, composure will be king and the side that can calmly execute their game plan whilst stifling the other side's will be the one that prevails. England versus Ireland is one of the great home nations' rivalries, matches between the two always produce rugby of the highest order and today at the Stade Jean Bouin will be no exception. Both sides are worthy of winning this fixture and indeed the entire 2014 Women's World Cup, however we know that is not possible. All things considered it is likely to come down to one moment of brilliance or on slip in concentration. The stage is set, the stadium is sold out and in just a few hours' time we will witness one of the greatest matches in the history of Women's Rugby.