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Upcoming U18 Women’s Six Nations Festival Puts Sharp Focus On U18 Interpro Series

Ireland sing the national anthem ahead of the game 13/4/2022

Under 18 Women’s Six Nations Festival, The DAM Health Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland 13/4/2022 Ireland vs Wales Ireland sing the national anthem ahead of the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy

There are two rounds of Women’s U18 Interprovincial fixtures over the coming few days as selection and preparation for April’s U18 Women’s Six Nations Festival ramp up.

On Sunday 12th February, Ulster play Leinster and Connacht play Munster at the IRFU High Performance Centre on the Sport Ireland Campus, and then on Thursday 16th February, Munster face Leinster and Connacht take on Ulster at Terenure College RFC.

“It’s a great opportunity for these girls to be seen and put on a clear pathway for that green jersey.”

Once Ireland U18 panel, sponsored by PwC, is selected there will be three training camps hosted at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin in the lead up to the U18 Women’s Six Nations, which takes place between the 7th-15th April at Wellington College in Berkshire, England.

In 2022, the festival saw each nation compete in two match days while in 2023 each country will compete across three match days.

Katie Fitzhenry, IRFU Women’s National WNTS and Talent Identification Manager, commented, “It’s really exciting to get to watch these players getting to play Interpros again leading into the Six Nations Festival.

 Last year we hadn’t a lot of players who went club, province, country into the U18’s Six Nations Festival.  This year we changed the age bracket to 18 so we still allowed for those girls who hadn’t actually previously gotten to play interpros in the summer so this year it is directly U18s so hopefully this year we will go club, province, country straight into the Six Nations Festival.”

Fitzhenry is keen to stress the importance of challenging female players at this age level so that they can take the next step on the pathway and go on to earn representative honors at senior level.

“It’s massive seeing them at this young age, and getting this high level of competition.  We are seeing the likes of  Aoife Wafer, Katie Whelan coming through a couple of years ago and even last year’s U18s Six Nations Festival we have the likes of Clara Barrett, Sophie Barrett and Sadhbh McGrath who have all been included in that Celtic Challenge group this year.   It just shows that there is a pathway there and it is making progress,”

Aoife Dalton featured in the U18 Women’s Interprovincial Series in 2021 and is now a full international and on a pro IRFU contract

The interpro fixtures will show the Ireland U18 coaches where individual players are in their development and who might be ready to compete in an U18 Six Nation Festival.

“The interpros are massive for these players.  It gives them a good competition leading into a Six Nations Festival.   We don’t get a massive lead in time so therefore its important to get as much game time for them as we can and good competition is always important at that age.  It’s a great opportunity for these girls to be seen and put on a clear pathway for that green jersey,” said Fitzhenry.