Ioan Cunningham excited for Wales’ future after World Cup quarter-final exit
Wales’ Rugby World Cup campaign was ended by Portia Woodman and New Zealand on Saturday morning but coach Ioan Cunningham will leave the tournament proud of the progress his side have made and excited about the future in front of them.
Woodman scored her 19th and 20th career World Cup tries to break Sue Day’s record as the dominant Black Ferns cruised to a 55-3 quarter-final win, showing far too much pace and power for Wales to live with.
But Wales always knew the scale of the task facing them in this match and Cunningham’s sights are set further down the line for a team that has only been professional for a few months.
“(The gap) is still fairly big obviously, the scoreboard doesn’t lie,” Cunningham said on ITV.
“The instensity, speed, they sustain it for 80 minutes and that’s somewhere we’ve got to get to. But I’m so proud of the girls and their effort, especially in the first half.
“We asked them to front up physically and they did, we hassled them and forced them into errors and I’m really proud of their effort.
“We came here to get out of the pool and we achieved that, to reach the quarter-final is brilliant.
“I’m super excited and proud to be part of this group. There’s so much effort, commitment and sacrifice from the players. We’ve only been pro as a group since January and it’s exciting where we can go looking forward for the next few years and maybe more success at the 2025 World Cup.”
New Zealand advance to the semi-finals and a meeting with France, who will be the next to try to find a way to stop the thrilling combination of Woodman, Ruby Tui and Ayesha Leti-I’iga.
“I think it’s even more fun than it looks,” Tui said on the spirit in the New Zealand team.
“This team has been through so much but we just want to show that women’s rugby is a product worth watching, we’ve all got our stories but we just want to entertain.
“If I could pick two wingers in the entire world to stand next to on the pitch it would be ‘P’ and Ayesha. It’s a dream. They’re two amazing players but actually really cool people who I know would have my back if anything happened off the field.
“They’re both horrible to tackle equally. I could not pick which one I would rather get a stinger from. The cool thing is they don’t care about the records.
“They’re both humble humans but they’re also breaking records and selling out stadiums being awesome while they’re doing it.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.