18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
ROUND ONE -
MUNSTER 46 ULSTER 0, Thomond Park Stadium
Playing under floodlights and at the new Thomond Park for the first time, Munster sparkled in the opening game of the IRFU Interprovincial Championship.
Inspired by captain Joy Neville, Munster scored seven tries and their top scorer was Niamh Briggs from Clonmel who had a try, penalty and three conversions.
The other tries were scored by Sandra Williams (Nenagh), Patrique Kelly (UL Bohemians), Kate O'Loughlin (Clonmel), Amanda Greensmith (Shannon), Laura Guest (Highfield) and Neville from UL Bohs, with Nicole Fitzgerald also kicking a conversion.
LEINSTER 33 CONNACHT 8, Donnybrook Stadium
Helped by a cohesive second half display, Leinster got their Interprovincial campaign off to a winning start on Sunday afternoon with a five-try 33-8 victory over Connacht in Donnybrook.
Philip Doyle's side went ahead on the 20 minute mark through number 8 Debbie Clarke who went over off the back of a superbly well-executed maul. The try was converted by Nora Stapleton who was making her debut at full-back for the province.
Ten minutes later, Stapleton landed a penalty to send Leinster 10-0 in front going into the break.
Throughout the opening 40 minutes, Connacht remained well in touch but were unable to convert their possession onto the scoreboard. For large periods Leinster were pinned back with some well-placed tactical kicking from out-half Clare Raftery.
Strong ball carrying from captain Carol Staunton, fellow back rower Claire Molloy and front rower Ruth O'Reilly gave the away side a sense of urgency.
However, the Leinster pack dominated the lineouts and negated that set piece as an attacking platform for Connacht.
Leinster eventually began to string some phases together and six minutes into the second half, having sucked in the Connacht defence through strong running by skipper Fiona Coghlan and flanker Sinead Ryan, the ball was spun out to winger Amy Davis who sprinted past the cover to score in the corner.
Further tries from openside flanker Sinead Ryan (61 minutes), hooker Yvonne Nolan (65) and blindside flanker Orla Brennan (77) ended the game as a contest.
Most notably, Leinster maximised their dominance up front by using the rolling maul to great effect in the second half.
Indiscipline, however, was an unfortunate feature of the Leinster game and following a series of high tackles and infringements around the breakdown, they were reduced to 14 when Coghlan was sin-binned for persistent fouling from the team as a whole.
Connacht capitalised on this and launched a couple of meaningful attacks of their own with penetrating running from winger Alison Miller.
Miller broke clean through the midfield on two occasions, the second line break eventually, after recycling of possession, leading to Connacht's try in the dying minutes of the game from winger Emma Cleary.
FIXTURES TO COME -
Munster v Leinster, Ballincollig RFC, Saturday, October 31, 2.30pm
Ulster v Connacht, Ravenhill, Saturday, October 31, 2.30pm
Ulster v Leinster, City of Derry RFC, Saturday, November 14, kick-off tbc
Connacht v Munster, The Sportsground, Saturday, November 14, 2pm
Women's Interprovincial Finals, Donnybrook, Sunday, November 29, kick-offs tbc