The opening day of Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 in Ireland on Wednesday delivered on its promise as new stars were introduced to the global rugby family and others enhanced their reputations.
Canada were the most emphatic winners of the day with a 16-try, 98-0 defeat of tournament debutants Hong Kong, while Ireland were given a huge scare by Australia before emerging 19-17 winners.
We take a look at five lessons to take away from an opening day that also saw victories for defending champions England, four-time winners New Zealand, USA and 2014 bronze medallists France.
1. Appetite for coverage – Women's Rugby World Cup 2017 has long been predicted to be the most competitive, best attended, most watched and most socially engaged women’s rugby event to date and if the opening day is anything to go by, then the early figures for online coverage are backing that up.
There were 4.4 million online video views in 24 hours, led by the live match streams in non-rights holding markets, Instagram Stories, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, while the tournament hashtag #WRWC2017 was trending in the UK and Ireland. Fans from 196 countries and territories engaged with World Rugby's digital platforms with traffic on the opening day of the tournament showing a 550 per cent in comparison to WRWC 2014.
It wasn't only online, though, with the atmosphere electric at the UCD Bowl and Billings Park venues, as well as the fan-zone where fans from all nations mingled together and enjoyed the occasion.
2. Tries aplenty – The opening day of Ireland 2017 saw significantly more points and tries scored than the last issue (373 and 63 to 215 and 40) and wingers were certainly on fire, not least Canada's Magali Harvey who ran in five tries in a 41-point haul in her side's 98-0 win over Hong Kong at Billings Park, a game in which they made 1,282 metres.
England winger Kay Wilson (pictured) grabbed four in the defending champions' 56-5 win over Spain, only five months after she scored a Women's Six Nations record seven tries against Scotland. Three other players crossed for hat-tricks on day one with Canada captain Kelly Russell the only forward among them, the others being New Zealand full-back Selica Winiata and France centre Caroline Ladagnous. A total of 42 players got their name on the scoreboard as try-scorers on day one, giving fans plenty to cheer about across the two venues.
3. No quarter given – While some matches may have been a feast of tries, the encounter between hosts Ireland and Australia was a battle in every sense of the word, neither side willing to give an inch in a hugely physical Pool C encounter that swung one way then the other. Ireland had been strong favourites going into the match with their greater experience, having played as many matches this year as Australia have since the last tournament in 2014. However, Australian teams relish the underdog tag and were out to spoil Ireland's party on day one. Australia had clearly learned their lessons from heavy losses against the top three teams in the world in June and Ireland had to dig deep and draw inspiration from their vocal supporters to get over the line with a vital win in their quest to become the first home nation to lift the coveted trophy.
4. Age is no barrier – Scrum-half is one of the most pivotal positions on the pitch, providing the link between forwards and backs, and many would have been surprised to learn that Japan scrum-half Moe Tsukui was only 17 years, four months and 13 days old as she ordered her far more experienced team-mates around the park in their 72-14 loss to France on day one. Tsukui was one of Japan's stand-out players and they will need her to shine again as they have lost their talisman and number eight Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave for the tournament with a fractured leg.
5. Tip of the iceberg – The tournament may have got off to a flying start but there is definitely more to come in the remaining five match days with teams looking for improvements, big or small, that could prove the difference when the pressure kicks in. New Zealand, for example, will want to rectify their lineout throwing after captain Fiao'o Faamausili was penalised several times for not-straight throws in their win over Wales, while others will want to cut out the handling errors – possibly a result of first-day nerves – or be more clinical and take the opportunities when they arise. No side wants to peak on day one, but take a step up with each round, as Faamausili herself said on Wednesday "practice makes perfect".
Tell us what you thought of day one @WorldRugby using #WRWC2017.
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