Ireland’s Fiona Coghlan leads the first ever Barbarians Women’s team into action against Munster at Thomond Park, insisting her team will live up to the club’s traditions of entertainment and excitement tomorrow evening (kick-off 4.45pm).
Captain Fiona Coghlan is one of seven Irishwomen in the squad – Marie Louise Reilly and Jackie Shiels are the other starters – and a cosmopolitan team contains players from eight different countries.
All were presented with their match shirts by former Australia and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans after meeting the men’s squad due to take on Tonga later the same day. Both Barbarians matches will be available to watch live online via www.punditarena.com/tv.
For Coghlan, who studied at the University of Limerick, running out at Thomond Park in the Baa Baas shirt will be a special occasion as the global Women’s game continues to expand after this year’s successful Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.
“It’s an important moment for the Women’s game and, for me, it’s very exciting. I started my rugby in Limerick and to be able to come back here after finishing my international career is special,” said the 85-times capped former Ireland prop and captain.
“This is a great Barbarians squad. I’ve played against these players so many times, we’ve always had good battles on the pitch. It’s also great to see the likes of Canada’s Kelly Russell who’ve just come out of a World Cup and to be able to play alongside people like her. We’ve got more than a thousand caps in the squad.
“We want to go out and play the Barbarians way – exciting to watch and enjoyable to play. It takes hard work to do that and be able to play with that flair but that’s our aim.”
The Baa Baas starting line-up includes veteran New Zealand scrum half Emma Jensen, while Canada provide Russell and Amanda Thornborough. There will be a strong French influence with Christelle Le Duff a fluent out-half and lock Lenaig Corson will form a powerful second row with Ireland’s Marie Louise Reilly.
Sweden winger Tova Derk comes into the side after replacing injured French star Camille Grassineau, while the Irish contingent on the bench includes Galwegians’ Edel McMahon and former Ireland team-mates Ailis Egan, Nora Stapleton and Tania Rosser.
Tickets for the Barbarians double header are available from €;15 for adults and €;10 for juniors and can be purchased online here. The ticket office in Thomond Park will also be open from 9am tomorrow.
BARBARIANS WOMEN (v Munster): Elen Evans (Caernarfon/Wales); Tova Derk (Wasps/Sweden), Vicki Jackson (Wasps/England), Megan Goddard (Gloucester-Hartpury/England), Jackie Shiels (Old Belvedere/Ireland); Christelle Le Duff (SO Villonguet/France), Emma Jensen (College Rifles/New Zealand); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Ireland) (capt), Amy Garnett (Saracens/England), Claire Cripps (Wasps/England), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Ireland), Lenaig Corson (Stade Rennais/France), Susie Brown (Richmond/Scotland), Rachel Taylor (Caernarfon/Wales), Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads/Canada).
Replacements: Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Ireland), Tracy Balmer (Worcester/Scotland), Edel McMahon (Galwegians), Becky Essex (Richmond/England), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Ireland), Amanda Thornborough (Westshore/Canada), Georgina Roberts (Darlington MP Sharks/England), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Ireland).