10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Last week saw the launch of the Munster U-18 girls team and Munster and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell took time out from his recovery from a thumb injury to pass on his advice to the girls' captain Louise Egan.
O'Connell, who captained Munster this season, said: "It's alway a huge source of pride to play for Munster, but especially as captain. From talking to Louise I know she feels the same way about it."
Munster flanker Alan Quinlan also gave the setting up of the girls team his endorsement and he was particularly pleased that out-half Louise hails from his own Clanwilliam club.
"The commitment of more and more clubs in setting up girls' teams is now paying off with the first ever Munster U-18 side. This is going to do a lot for greater participation in rugby," said the Irish international.
Louise herself commented: "Our preparations for the game have been going well. I think it is important for us to remember that we are playing for Munster and there is a serious reputation to be defended."
Munster's newest team is coached by Padraig Culbert, Fiona Murphy, Shane Lehane, Gemma Crowley and Elliott Corcoran.
The Munster U-18 squad was drawn together from trials involving the seven Munster clubs with active U-18 teams. Next up they will face Ulster in their first ever interprovincial fixture at this age grade.
This is the second season of organised rugby for girls in Munster. During the 2005/2006 campaign, Munster led the way in Ireland in girls rugby at a number of levels. Munster organised the first ever provincial league, which involved four teams - Clanwilliam, Clonakility, Clonmel and Shannon.
This term, Corca Dhuibhne (Dingle), Mallow, Fermoy and Thurles joined with the other clubs in competing for league honours.
There has been a tremendous growth in the number of girls playing rugby in Munster. Much of this growth has been due to the highly successful Skills Camps that are run by the province's Development Office.
- For more information on girls rugby in Munster, please visit www.munstergirlsrugby.com -