Ireland women's coach Adam Griggs has spoken of the heartbreak of missing out on a World Cup spot at the hands of Scotland.
The Scots edged Ireland by 20 points to 18 in their qualifier in Parma, with Sarah Law's last gasp conversion denying Ireland a shot at a second qualifying tournament, having entered the game with a chance to qualify automatically for the finals in New Zealand.
Ireland won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2013 and a year later, they beat New Zealand in the Pool stage of the World Cup before finishing fourth in the tournament.
It's a serious fall from grace in the last seven years and all Griggs could do after the game was empathize with his players.
"It's devastating. I have got 28 women there who had a huge goal and support staff who have worked tirelessly through a COVID pandemic, through the Six Nations, through dates being changed and a goal that essentially was really close - and a last conversion takes that away. It's hugely heartbreaking. I feel for all the players and the support staff that have put this work into it.
"Ultimately, we thought we were on the right track and we thought we had done the preparation to be successful and sometimes you don't always get what you deserve in life. It's one of those things that we have to take on the chin at the moment."
Next year will mark the first time since 1991 that Ireland won't have a team at the women's World Cup.
Adam Griggs does feel that the players can recover from this painful setback.
"Just speaking to the group - there's a huge core of young players there who have done the jersey proud and this won't be the last time they wear that jersey. I guess it's just a matter of once they can take time to reflect on this experience, I hope it makes them better rugby players, but also better people. I think they need to hold their heads up high and while it's just so upsetting right now, I hope they will bounce back from this."
When asked if more could be done for the players, so they avoid a situation like this happening again, Griggs wouldn't be drawn on the wider question.
"I won't comment on that at the moment. We were trying to focus on this tournament and we've fallen short and the bigger picture stuff is for other people to answer in time."
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