The Ireland Women’s team has been named for their Six Nations opener against France at Toulouse’s Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday night (kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time).
For his first competitive game in charge, head coach Adam Griggs has included one new cap in the starting XV with Megan Williams, well-known as a Sevens international, set for her 15s debut following a try-scoring performance in the recent warm-up match against Wales.
Williams is named in the back-three alongside Kim Flood, at full-back, and the hugely-experienced Alison Miller, who has scored a record 19 Six Nations tries for Ireland, on the opposite wing.
Saturday night’s match also marks the welcome return to action of former captain Niamh Briggs after a long season out with injury. Selected at out-half, Briggs is partnered at half-back by Ailsa Hughes, who made her debut in the opening round of last year’s Six Nations. Centres Claire McLaughlin and Sene Naoupu complete the back-line.
Up front, Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Fiona Reidy join forces in the front row, with Reidy, a member of this season’s Interprovincial title-winning Munster team, set for her first Six Nations start at tighthead.
Ciara Cooney and Orla Fitzsimons team up in an all-Leinster second row pairing, while Ireland’s newly-appointed captain Ciara Griffin will lead the side from number 8, flanked by Claire Molloy, the skipper from last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup, and Anna Caplice who makes her Six Nations bow.
The replacements bench has another potential new cap in Galwegians prop Laura Feely who hails from Ballybofey. She is one of five Connacht players among the reserves, including backs Mary Healy and Mairead Coyne.
Speaking ahead of the round 1 clash with France, head coach Griggs said: “The opening game of this tournament is always going to be a challenge and France in front of their home crowd is immense.
“However, the squad have had good preparation over the last two weeks and are excited and focused on the challenge at hand to start our campaign off with a positive performance.”
The Ireland Women play Italy on Sunday week (February 11) in the first of three home games at Donnybrook and tickets are available now via ticketmaster.ie. The IRFU is offering a bus subsidy of up to 400 euro per club for private transport hire. For more information on the bus subsidy for the 2018 Women’s Six Nations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org before purchasing tickets.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v France Women, 2018 Womens Six Nations Championship, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, Saturday, February 3, kick-off 9pm local time/8pm Irish time):
15. Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)
14. Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
13. Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster)
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
11. Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
10. Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster)
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
2. Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster)
3. Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster)
4. Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)
5. Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster)
6. Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/ Munster)
7. Claire Molloy (Bristol)
8. Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
16. Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster)
17. Laura Feely (Galwegians/Connacht) *
18. Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht)
19. Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht)
20. Paula Fitzpatrick (St Mary’s/Leinster)
21. Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht)
22. Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster)
23. Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)
* Denotes uncapped player at this level
IRELAND WOMEN – 2018 SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES:
France Women v Ireland Women, Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, Saturday, February 3, 9pm local time/8pm Irish time – Buy Match Tickets
Ireland Women v Italy Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, February 11, 1pm – Buy Match Tickets
Ireland Women v Wales Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, February 25, 3pm – Buy Match Tickets
Ireland Women v Scotland Women, Donnybrook, Sunday, March 11, 1pm – Buy Match Tickets
England Women v Ireland Women, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, Friday, March 16, 5.30pm – Buy Match Tickets