There was late drama in Belfast

Ireland Women’s Six Nations Squad 2022

Enya Breen converted her own try with the clock in the red to ensure Ireland ended their Women’s Six Nations campaign with a win.

Ireland had led Scotland 8-5 at the break – a Hannah O’Connor penalty and a Neve Jones try giving them the edge after Evie Gallagher had put the visitors ahead early on in Belfast.

The Scots then pulled ahead in the second half thanks to three Helen Nelson penalties, with the visitors looking like they would record their first win of the championship.

Instead, Breen crossed for a try in the 84th minute and then converted it to give Ireland a 15-14 victory. The result means they finish the championship in fourth place.

Ireland team to play Scotland – Saturday 30 April

Vicky Irwin; Aoife Doyle, Sene Naoupu, Enya Breen, Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Nikki Caughey, Kathryn Dane; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney, Nichola Fryday (captain), Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Hannah O’Connor.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Katie O’Dwyer, Aoife McDermott, Grace Moore, Maeve Og O’Leary, Ailsa Hughes, Michelle Claffey.

England 69-0 Ireland

Ireland fell to a 69-0 defeat by England in front of a record crowd in round four of the Women’s Six Nations.

A total of 15,836 people were at Welford Road – an attendance for a standalone Red Roses fixture that beats the record set at Kingsholm a fortnight ago – and they saw a powerful home side score 11 tries against Ireland.

Ireland, shorn of their professional sevens players and injured lock Sam Monaghan for this Test, managed to limit England to a 10-0 lead at the break with an impressive performance. They defended resolutely and disrupted the hosts at the breakdown, winning a number of penalties as Red Roses players were isolated or infringed at the contact area.

However, within six minutes of the restart they had conceded another two tries and had been reduced to 14 players. Dorothy Wall was sin-binned for a head-on-head upright tackle on Jess Breach, the referee deeming it a “low degree of danger” because it was “quite passive”.

The tries kept coming as the second period progressed and the quality of England’s bench told, particularly at the set-piece where England dismantled those in green both in the scrum and driving maul.

They also saw centre Sene Naoupu sent off in the 67th minute for another head contact incident, this time in a tackle involving Emily Scarratt. The referee determined this involved  a higher degree of force than the Wall tackle and Naoupu was shown a red card.

So Ireland are likely to be without another back for their last match of the championship depending on the suspension Naoupu receives. Eimear Considine could also be missing given she was carried off on a stretcher in the second half. Still, they will want to close out their campaign with a win over Scotland in Belfast.

Ireland team to play England – Sunday 24 April

Molly Scuffil-McCabe; Aoife Doyle, Sene Naoupu, Enya Breen, Eimear Considine; Nicole Cronin, Kathryn Dane; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney, Nichola Fryday (captain), Aoife McDermott, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Hannah O’Connor.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Katie O’Dwyer, Grace Moore, Maeve Óg O’Leary, Aoibheann Reilly, Michelle Claffey, Niamh Byrne.

Ireland 29-8 Italy

Ireland beat Italy 29-8 at Musgrave Park to record their first win of the 2022 Women’s Six Nations – and they secured the try bonus point too.

Lucy Mulhall crossed for the opening try midway through the half, plucking a long Nicole Cronin pass out of the air and touching down, and Neve Jones added a second before the break from a textbook close-range driving maul.

Soon after the break, Eve Higgins collected a Kathryn Dane chip and burst clear for the third try.

The dominance of their scrum led to a penalty try in the 50th minute – the bonus-point score – and they wrapped up the win with an opportunistic try from Katie O’Dwyer. The replacement prop picked off a loose ball following a messy Italian lineout and spun her way over the line.

It will be a confidence-boosting win for the Irish but they face a huge challenge in round four. They travel to Welford Road to play England and will likely be without most of their sevens players.

Ireland team to play Italy – Sunday 10 April

Lucy Mulhall; Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood, Beibhinn Parsons; Nicole Cronin, Kathryn Dane; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Christy Haney, Nichola Fryday (captain), Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Hannah O’Connor.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Katie O’Dwyer, Brittany Hogan, Aoife Wafer, Aoibheann Reilly, Enya Breen, Aoife Doyle.

France 40-5 Ireland

Ireland suffered a second straight defeat in the 2022 Women’s Six Nations as they lost 40-5 to France in Toulouse.

The French dominated the set-piece, disrupting the Irish lineout and getting their own drive going at scrum time. Ireland didn’t help themselves with a high number of handling errors, one of which led to France’s fifth try as they looked to play out of their own 22.

Still, having trailed 26-0 at half-time, they did limit France to just 14 points in the second period and scored a try of their own.

Eve Higgins was denied a try in the first half by the TMO but she darted between three French defenders midway through the second to get on the scoreboard.

Ireland team to play France – Saturday 2 April

Eimear Considine; Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall; Nicole Cronin, Aoibheann Reilly; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer, Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Brittany Hogan.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Christy Haney, Anna McGann, Hannah O’Connor, Kathryn Dane, Enya Breen, Beibhinn Parsons.

Ireland 19-27 Wales

Ireland lost 27-19 to Wales in the opening match of their Women’s Six Nations campaign in Dublin.

It all started so well for Ireland. There was a clear intent to keep the ball in hand and Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe evaded several Welsh tacklers to cross in the opening quarter and give Ireland the lead, much to the delight of a record crowd at the RDS Arena.

Then Linda Djougang surged towards the line after being released by a beautiful Sam Monaghan offload to make it 14-5 at half-time.

Yet the Carys Phillips try that provided the sandwich filling for those two Irish scores was a warning of what was to come in the second half.

That score came from a driving maul and all four of the tries Wales scored in their second-half comeback were a result of their power up front, whether in the set-piece or close quarters.

While Stacey Flood was put over by Eimear Considine around the hour mark, the full-back pouncing on an errant quick lineout throw from Wales, to reassert Ireland’s advantage after a Jasmine Joyce try, they then conceded 17 unanswered points.

Donna Rose scored twice in ten minutes, the second coming after Considine was sent to the bin following a succession of Irish offences, and then Hannah Jones went over in the final stages.

While Ireland looked threatening with ball in hand, the amount of penalties (nearly three times as many as Wales) and turnovers conceded will be a big concern, particularly as they face France next weekend.

Ireland team to play Wales – Saturday 26 March

Eimear Considine; Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Eve Higgins, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall; Nicole Cronin, Aoibheann Reilly; Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer, Nichola Fryday, Sam Monaghan, Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon, Brittany Hogan.

Replacements: Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Christy Haney, Anna McGann, Hannah O’Connor, Kathryn Dane, Enya Breen, Beibhinn Parsons.

Ireland Women’s Six Nations Squad

Greg McWilliams has named his first squad as Ireland head coach, selecting 38 players for the upcoming Women’s Six Nations.

McWilliams was announced as the new boss last year after Adam Griggs resigned following Ireland’s failure to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and further changes to the Irish women’s set-up are likely after Anthony Eddy stepped down from his role as director of sevens and women’s rugby.

Given that Ireland aren’t competing at this year’s global showpiece, McWilliams can be more experimental in his selections as he looks to build a squad for RWC 2025.

As such, he has included nine uncapped players in the squad for the championship – Natasja Behan, Christy Haney, Vicky Irwin, Anna McGann, Amanda McQuade, Emma Murphy, Aoibheann Reilly, Molly Scuffil-McCabe and Aoife Wafer.

He is without experienced forwards – and leaders – Ciara Griffin, Claire Molloy and Lindsay Peat, who all retired last autumn. He has also left out hooker Cliodhna Moloney, centre Sene Naoupu and back-row Anna Caplice, who have all been regulars in the Ireland team in recent years.

In fact, Moloney, who has been critical of the IRFU’s handling of the women’s game and has represented the players in talks with the Irish government, was named Ireland Women’s Player of the Year in 2020 and played in all eight of her country’s Tests in 2021.

When discussing the recommendations of a review into the failed World Cup qualifying campaign, which saw the IRFU apologise to women’s players, the union’s chief executive Kevin Potts was asked for assurances that Molone’s omission was not linked to her speaking out. Potts said: “Absolutely guaranteed, that is not the case, it’s form.”

McWilliams is yet to name a captain for Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, which starts against Wales on 26 March. Of the squad, he said: “We have selected players that have the ability to go for long periods of high intensity ball in play and have a positive impact on the game.

“Like every selection, there is some talent missing out, and I will be keeping an eye on these and other players as we look to increase competition within the wider playing pool.

“There is great talent within the group and this is a great opportunity for us to develop its foundations and learn about what’s needed to compete at the highest level going forward.”

Ireland Women’s Six Nations Squad 2022

Backs

(DoB/Club/Position/Caps)

Natasja Behan (Blackrock College/Full-back/Uncapped)
Enya Breen (23 Apr 1999/UL Bohemian/Centre/13)
Nikki Caughey (3 Sep 1992/Railway Union/Fly-half/13)
Michelle Claffey (14 Nov 1987/Blackrock College/Centre/12)
Eimear Considine (8 May 1991/UL Bohemian/Back three/26)
Nicole Cronin (20 Aug 1992/UL Bohemian/Scrum-half/20)
Kathryn Dane (5 Sep 1996/Old Belvedere/Scrum-half/22)
Lauren Delany (17 Jul 1989/Sale Sharks/Full-back/18)
Aoife Doyle (2 Jun 1995/Railway Union/Wing/9)
Stacey Flood (5 Aug 1996/Railway Union/Fly-half/10)
Eve Higgins (23 Jun 1999/Railway Union/Centre/9)
Ailsa Hughes (18 Aug 1991/Railway Union/Scrum-half/13)
Vicky Irwin (Sale Sharks/Back three/Uncapped)
Lucy Mulhall (29 Sep 1993/Wicklow/Centre/4)
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (26 Apr 1995/Railway Union/Wing/9)
Beibhinn Parsons (30 Nov 2001/Blackrock College/Wing/18)
Aoibheann Reilly (1 Nov 2000/Blackrock College/Scrum-half/2)
Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union/Full-back/1)

Forwards

Claire Boles (28 May 1998/Railway Union/Back-row/3)
Linda Djougang (17 May 1996/ASM Romagnat Rugby/Prop/21)
Nichola Fryday (2 Jun 1995/Exeter Chiefs/Back-row or lock/26)
Christy Haney (Blackrock College/Prop/3)
Brittany Hogan (19 Sep 1998/Old Belvedere/Lock/11)
Emma Hooban (3 Dec 1997/Blackrock College/Hooker/11)
Neve Jones (26 Dec 1998/Gloucester-Hartpury/Hooker/10)
Aoife McDermott (4 Jan 1991/Railway Union/Lock/20)
Anna McGann (4 Jun 1998/Railway Union/Back-row/3)
Edel McMahon (25 Mar 1994/Wasps/Back-row/17)
Amanda McQuade (Railway Union/Prop/Uncapped)
Sam Monaghan (25 Jun 1993/Wasps/Lock/8)
Grace Moore (21 May 1996/Railway Union/Back-row/1)
Emma Murphy (27 Apr 1995/Railway Union/Back-row/Uncapped)
Hannah O’Connor (28 Apr 1990/Blackrock College/Back-row/10)
Katie O’Dwyer (27 June 1991/Railway Union/Prop/9)
Maeve Óg O’Leary (6 Mar 2000/Blackrock College/Back-row/2)
Chloe Pearse (3 Mar 1994/UL Bohemian/Prop/3)
Aoife Wafer (Blackrock College/Back-row/1)
Dorothy Wall (4 May 2000/Blackrock College/Back-row/14)

Ireland Women’s Six Nations Fixtures 2022

(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)

Round One

Sat 26 Mar, Ireland 19-27 Wales

Round Two

Sat 2 Apr, France 40-5 Ireland

Round Three

Sun 10 Apr, Ireland 29-8 Italy

Round Four

Sun 24 Apr, England 69-0 Ireland

Round Five

Sat 30 Apr, Ireland 15-14 Scotland

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