It was a progressive and notable year for Ireland Women under Head Coach Greg McWilliams, who assumed charge for the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, and presided over three wins from seven Test matches in 2022 with 45 players pulling on the green jersey across the calendar year.
The Summer Tour of Japan, which ended 1-1, was a particular highlight, while the launch of the full-time Women’s XVs High Performance Programme in November was a landmark moment as the squad build towards the 2023 season, which includes the start of the new global WXV competition.
McWilliams commenced his role as Head Coach in January 2022 and guided Ireland Women to a third place finish in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, courtesy of home wins over Italy and Scotland. Ireland’s three home matches saw strong crowds come to the RDS, Musgrave Park and Kingspan Stadium to support the team.
Topline Stats for 2022
In August, Ireland Women embarked on a historic two-Test Tour of Japan, used by McWilliams as an invaluable development opportunity for many of the country’s brightest young talent, and the visitors shared the Series 1-1 with the Rugby World Cup-bound Sakura Fifteen.
A nine-try win in the first Test at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka was the highlight of the year, as McWilliams handed debuts to six players: Dannah O’Brien, Meabh Deely, Natasja Beehan, Aoife Dalton, Leah Tarpey and Taryn Schutzler.
In total, 15 players made their Test debut in green over the course of 2022, as McWilliams and Senior Coach John McKee explored their squad depth and exposed a number of players who have impressed in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League and Vodafone Inter-Provincial Championships to the international arena.
Niamh Byrne, Jo Brown, Anna McGann, Vicky Irwin, Jess Keating, Molly Scuffil McCabe, Aoibheann Reilly, Emma Tilly and Aoife Wafer also won their first caps in 2022.
Nichola Fryday also assumed captaincy duties for the 2022 season while Neve Jones was a standout performer throughout the year, with Linda Djougang‘s try against Wales at the RDS in March nominated for World Rugby Women’s Try of the Year.
Ireland Women scored 21 tries across their seven Test matches, with Jones topping the try-scoring charts with five, including a hat-trick against Japan in the first Test win.
Linda Djougang, Neve Jones, Nichola Fryday and Edel McMahon were the only players to start all seven matches while Katie O’Dwyer and Enya Breen featured in all seven fixtures in 2022.
The squad will be hoping to build further in 2023, with their Six Nations campaign starting against Wales in Cardiff on 25th March. McWilliams’ side will play their home matches, against France and England, at Musgrave Park in Cork.