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Six Nations Preview: Ireland Women v England Women

Six Nations Preview: Ireland Women v England Women

The Ireland Women will aim to put last Sunday’s disappointing result against Wales behind them when they host a Grand Slam-chasing England side at Ashbourne RFC tonight.


IRELAND WOMEN (3rd) v ENGLAND WOMEN (1st), Ashbourne RFC, 7.30pm

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Team News: Ireland Women’s head coach Philip Doyle has named his team for the final game of this year’s Women’s Six Nations against England at Ashbourne RFC.

Doyle has made three changes in personnel to the side that lost 15-14 to Wales in Gwent last Sunday afternoon.

Ailis Egan makes her first start of the campaign, coming in at tighthead prop with Lauren Day reverting to the replacements bench.

Laura Guest moves to the back row with Heather O’Brien starting alongside Marie Louise Reilly in the second row.

Scrum half Larissa Muldoon makes her first start having impressed off the bench in her first season at this level.

The girls in green will be hoping to finish the Championship on a high as they chase their third win. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, priced at €;20 for a car of four people, €;10 for adults and €;5 for children/students.

For directions to the ground, please click here.

Meanwhile, England Women’s head coach Gary Street has made two changes for Friday’s clash with Ireland, which sees England bidding for a sixth successive crown and a Grand Slam.

Richmond hooker Emma Croker and Saracens’ Maggie Alphonsi have been called back into the starting line-up. Croker is given her second start of the Championship, while Alphonsi returns as Street once again juggles his competitive back row unit.

After England’s record breaking 89-0 demolition of Scotland at Twickenham last Sunday, they are now in pole position in the Championship as the only unbeaten side and have only conceded eight points in four games.

IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Geraldine Rea (Highfield/Munster), Mairead Kelly (UL Bohemians/Munster); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (Bristol/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).

Replacements: Stacey Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Ulster), Deirdre O’Brien (Blackrock/Leinster), Carol Staunton (Galwegians/Connacht), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Leinster), Gillian Nolan (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Leinster).

ENGLAND WOMEN: Emily Scarratt (Lichfield); Katherine Merchant (Worcester), Rachael Burford (Richmond), Kimberley Oliver (Bristol), Fran Matthews (Richmond); Katy McLean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks) (capt), La Toya Mason (Wasps); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Emma Croker (Richmond), Sophie Hemming (Bristol), Rebecca Essex (Richmond), Joanna McGilchrist (Wasps), Heather Fisher (Worcester), Maggie Alphonsi (Saracens), Sarah Hunter (Lichfield).

Replacements: Amy Garnett (Saracens), Claire Purdy (Wasps), Rowena Burnfield (Richmond), Catherine Spencer (Bristol), Georgina Rozario (Lichfield), Georgina Roberts (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Danielle Waterman (Worcester).

Referee: Sarah Corrigan (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Ken Henley-Willis, John Montayne (both Ireland)

Pre-Match Quotes: Fiona Coghlan (Ireland Women) – “Next up in Ashbourne we face England. We know they are the clear favourites and justifiably so. We will have to play from the first whistle to the last.

“I have to admit I love playing against England, they are one of the best teams in the world and you want to measure yourself against them. I have no doubt that our very vocal support will be there to urge us on.

“Regardless of the result on Friday, there will be a tinge of sadness in the air as Rachel Reid, otherwise known as ‘Psycho’, is stepping down as our team manager.

“After an illustrious playing career in the back row for Ireland, Psycho came on board as assistant manager in 2004 and took over as team manager in 2007. Psycho has been a constant bedrock of the squad for all the years she has been involved. Psycho has brought so much to the squad, I won’t start as the list would honestly be endless.

“However I feel I must mention that Psycho is also well know as a prankster, although she was never caught in the act! She pulled some great pranks through the years, another list that would be endless.

“Her most notable prank was in 2008 after the England game. She somehow managed to get into a locked room and change our coaches’ after-match suits for cerise pink suits that they had to wear as they had nothing else! She is truly a living legend in the Irish camp.”

Gary Street (England Women) – “As usual we have named a strong side for what we think will be our toughest game of the tournament.

“Emma (Croker) has shown great energy and has made a real impact when she has come on so she deserves the start, and our back row is as competitive as ever. It was a tough call but this balance worked well against France, whilst I know Catherine (Spencer) will be champing at the bit to come off the bench.

“You can never underestimate Ireland. They have had a mixed season but they are playing at home, so we know this is going to be a really passionate encounter.

“Ireland proved to be our most physical game in the World Cup last year and I am sure this will be our toughest game of the Six Nations. Obviously the Six Nations title is in our minds, but what we have to concentrate on is building on our performances and to keep moving forward.”

Top Scorers – 2011 Women’s RBS 6 Nations: Ireland – Points: Niamh Briggs 24; Tries: Gillian Bourke 3; England – Points: Katy McLean 52; Tries: Danielle Waterman 5

Pre-Match Links –

Irish Rugby TV: Ireland Women v France Women

Kavanagh: We’re Building As A Unit

Coghlan Wins Irish Times Sportswoman Award

Ireland Women Edged Out By Wales

In Focus: Marie Louise Reilly

Recent Meetings –

2008: Women’s RBS 6 Nations: England Women 17 Ireland Women 7, London Irish Amateur RFC

2009: Women’s RBS 6 Nations: Ireland Women 13 England Women 29, St. Mary’s College RFC

2010: Women’s RBS 6 Nations: England Women 22 Ireland Women 5, Esher RFC; Women’s Rugby World Cup Pool B: England Women 27 Ireland Women 0, Surrey Sports Park