The extended Ireland Women’s squad, sponsored by Aon, assembled at the IRFU High Performance Centre on Saturday for a one-day camp ahead of this weekend’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations clash with England in Leicester.
A group of 33 players trained in Dublin in preparation for Sunday’s fourth round game at Mattioli Woods Welford Road (kick-off 12pm, live on Virgin Media Two/BBC Two/BBC iPlayer).
Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams has added seven players to his panel for the remainder of the 2022 Championship.
Laura Feely, Laura Sheehan, Mary Healy, Shannon Touhey, Sene Naoupu and the uncapped Leinster pair of Niamh Byrne and Alice O’Dowd have been called up.
The final two rounds of the Six Nations provide McWilliams and his coaching staff with the opportunity to further expose players to Test rugby and build squad depth.
Sam Monaghan and Aoife Wafer are both unavailable for selection this week through injury, while following a selection meeting between McWilliams and Ireland Sevens head coach Aiden McNulty last week, Stacey Flood, Lucy Mulhall, Anna McGann, Eve Higgins, Brittany Hogan, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe and Beibhinn Parsons have reintegrated back into the Ireland Sevens programme ahead of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series’ return in Langford (April 30-May 1).
Those players returned to training with the national Sevens squad at the IRFU High Performance Centre last week as Ireland prepare for their first World Series tournament since winning a historic silver medal in Seville back in January.
The Sevens squad have a challenging summer schedule ahead, as the journey to Paris 2024 Olympic qualification gets underway at the Rugby Europe Championship in July before McNulty’s charges seek to qualify for September’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town.
McNulty will finalise his selection for the World Series leg in Canada at the end of this week.
The extended Ireland Women’s 15s squad will step up their preparations for Sunday at the IRFU High Performance Centre this evening, before travelling to Leicester on Thursday morning.
McWilliams’ side will train in England on Thursday and Friday ahead of the Captain’s Run at Welford Road on Saturday.
“We had a really productive camp on Saturday, during which we got through a good body of work both on and off the pitch,” said McWilliams. “Unfortunately we will be without both Sam and Aoife through injuries this weekend.
David (Nucifora), Aiden (McNulty) and myself have been in regular communication over selection and we feel we have the right balance for this window, knowing that there are further development opportunities coming up for the 15s squad, with plans at an advanced stage for a two-Test summer tour in August, and the important qualification tournaments facing the Sevens programme over the same period.
“There are a number of players who have had to be patient during the first three rounds of the Six Nations and they now have an opportunity to stake a claim for the green jersey.
“We have a good group of players in camp with us now, a nice mixture of experience and players who have impressed me during the Energia All-Ireland League season, and coming off the back of our win over Italy, are determined to finish the Championship with strong performances.”
McWilliams will name his Ireland matchday 23 to face England at lunchtime on Friday.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Squad (v England Women, 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations – Round 4):
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Alice O’Dowd (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster) *
Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)
Aoife McDermott (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC/Munster)
Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
Grace Moore (Railway Union RFC/IQ Rugby)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster)
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)
Laura Sheehan (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby)
Linda Djougang (ASM Romagnat Rugby/Leinster)
Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)
Mary Healy (Naas RFC/Suttonians RFC/Leinster)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster)
Niamh Byrne (Railway Union RFC/Leinster) *
Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht) (capt)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)
Nikki Caughey (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster)
Shannon Touhey (Tullamore RFC/Connacht)
Vicky Irwin (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)
* Denotes uncapped player