The Ireland Women’s team, sponsored by Aon, has been named for their first Women’s RBS 6 Nations fixture as they welcome Wales to Donnybrook on Saturday (kick-off 1pm).
Head coach Tom Tierney has named a side that features two uncapped players in the starting line-up. Winger Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere/Leinster) and hooker Zoe Grattage (Tralee/Munster) will win their first caps on Saturday, with Grattage’s Tralee and Munster team-mate, flanker Ciara Griffin, hoping to make her Ireland debut from the bench.
The selected squad also features seven players who won their first caps last November in Ireland’s maiden autumn international against England.
Aine Donnelly and Mairead Coyne will be making their second international appearances when they run out on Saturday, while replacements Cliodhna Moloney, Lindsay Peat, Fiona Reidy, Ciara Cooney and Mary Healy will all be looking to add a second cap to their collection.
In all there are ten players who will be involved in a Six Nations side for the first time and Tierney is looking forward to the game. “It’s very exciting to have so many new players involved in their first Six Nations game,” he admitted.
“With some of the girls from last year’s campaign involved with the Sevens at the moment, as well as some retirements over the past few seasons, it gives others the opportunity to pull on the green jersey. We’re now at a stage where we are developing more and more girls who are capable at competing at international level and it’s a great to see.”
Ireland played a Wales selection in a warm-up fixture two weeks ago, and Tierney sees that game as a valuable fixture.
“The game against Wales the other week was good for us in that it allowed us to use 26 players and give them all a run against an international side. The fact that we are facing the same opposition so soon is interesting, as both sides will have worked on particular areas of their games over the past two weeks. We’ve trained well, so we’re now looking forward to putting that all into practice in a full-on Test match.”
This season the Ireland Women’s team will play all three of their home fixtures during the Six Nations at Donnybrook, with Tierney adding: “While Ashbourne served us unbelievably well as a venue over the last number of years, the move to Donnybrook, with its central location and 4G pitch, is something we are all pleased with.
“We have a new crop of players coming through and a new stadium, so it’s a special time for the Women’s game in Ireland and we’re looking forward to getting the season underway on Saturday.”
Click here for tickets to all of the Ireland Women’s home games. This weekend’s round 1 encounter with Wales will also be streamed live on Irish Rugby TV.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Wales Women, Women’s RBS 6 Nations, Donnybrook, Saturday, February 6, kick-off 1pm):
15. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
14. Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
13. Aine Donnelly (Cill Dara/Leinster)
12. Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht)
11. Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)
10. Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster)
9. Larissa Muldoon (Skewen)
1. Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht)
2. Zoe Grattage (Tralee/Munster) *
3. Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
4. Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
5. Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
6. Paula Fitzpatrick (Toulouse)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol)
8. Heather O’Brien (Toulouse)
16. Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster)
17. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
18. Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
19. Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)
20. Ciara Griffin (Tralee/Munster) *
21. Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht)
22. Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
23. Jackie Shiels (Richmond)
* Denotes uncapped player at international level