Caplice, third from the left, is preparing for the World Cup qualifiers (Instagram: Anna Caplice)
01 June 2020

Ireland's Anna Caplice says she’s still targeting World Cup qualifiers in September

Until somebody tells her otherwise, Ireland rugby player Anna Caplice is totally focused on next summer’s world cup.

Which means her first priority is this September’s qualifiers - Ireland are scheduled to be competing against Italy, Scotland and one more team, yet to be confirmed.

Caplice says: "There are a number of different scenarios that could play out. It could be in September as planned which, as time goes on, it seems less likely, but that is from my point of view, no one has said it is unlikely. So that's one scenario.

"Another possibility is that it could be pushed to November and then the November internationals could be pushed to December. Another is the qualifiers could be pushed to next year.

"Also we have to remember there are some remaining Six Nations games to be played as well, so best case scenario would be if they can fit everything in, but we just don’t know.

“If there’s a situation where there is no rugby up until the summer of 2021, they may have to go off rankings and use one repechage for that final place in the World Cup.

"You can't focus your energy into one possibility as any is as likely as the other.

"We are still all aiming to be fit, there would have to be a return to play in the elements of contact so it will all depend on that. 

"But we are and I definitely have it in my head we are aiming for a September clash because the worst thing you could do is relax a little bit.

“Thinking it could happen later this year or next and then all of a sudden there are some positive changes and we can play them as soon as we liked and then you're not fit!”

Caplice signed for Quins in 2019 (Instagram: Anna Caplice)

When Caplice is not taking the field with Ireland, she is pulling on a Harlequins shirt, playing in the English top tier of women’s rugby - the Premier 15s.

The league has been sponsored by Tyrrells since it began in 2017 but the company has announced it is ending its title sponsorship when the current contract runs out in August.

And while Caplice said she was disappointed, she is excited about what the next chapter holds for the league.

“There are two ways of looking at it. It is disappointing that their run has come to an end and that the main sponsor would pull out at an uncertain time,” she said.

"But also it's an exciting time and opportunity to get a new sponsor on board.

“I think after the pandemic people will appreciate sport so much more, so instead of looking at it on the uncertain terms, I think it could be a really exciting time to grab an opportunity that would take us into the next chapter.”

The Premier 15s current season was ruled null and void due to the pandemic and many have questioned whether this, as well as international rugby being delayed, will have an impact on girls and women participating in the sport.

Caplice, however, works for the Harlequins foundation and part of her job is attracting more women into the sport. She says she doesn’t believe participation in women’s rugby will decrease as a result of the virus.

"It's really difficult because we have to let kids get back to school first and there's a lot of trial and error around that.

"A challenge we will have is coming up with ways to coach rugby that incorporates social distancing.

"If the contact element of rugby is going to be too much when we return to PE and activity, we will have to be adaptable.

"I don’t think it will impact on the amount of girls participating because kids love team sports whether it’s with social distancing or not. I think it's an exciting challenge.

The forward has chosen to remain in London for lockdown instead of heading back to Ireland, though she is managing to get a taste of home comforts.

"My family have been sending recipes, that's one thing I've been able to do, bake and cook a lot more. 

“I made some brown bread, some Irish brown bread, which is a recipe from one of my best friends' mother and it was really nice.”

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