The Ireland Women begin their Six Nations journey for 2013 with a trip to Port Talbot, determined to build on last year’s impressive third place finish in the Championship.
2013 WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Sunday, February 3
WALES WOMEN v IRELAND WOMEN, Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon RFC, 1.30pm
Team News: The Ireland Women’s team to play Wales in their opening game of the Women’s RBS 6 Nations at Aberavon RFC on Sunday has been named.
Head coach Philip Doyle has selected Ireland’s most capped player, Lynne Cantwell, at out-half for the Championship opener. She will be partnered at half-back by Larissa Muldoon.
Niamh Briggs starts at full-back with Niamh Kavanagh and Alison Miller on the wings, while Grace Davitt and Jenny Murphy make up a new centre partnership.
Up front, captain Fiona Coghlan packs down alongside Gillian Bourke and Ailis Egan in the front row. Sophie Spence and Marie Louise Reilly form a strong second row.
Joy Neville, Claire Molloy and Laura Guest make up an exciting back row combination.
Meanwhile, Wales Women’s head coach Rhys Edwards has gone for experience over youth in his starting line-up to take on Ireland.
Experienced trio Catrin Edwards, Gemma Hallett and Catrina Nicholas all return to the team after missing last year’s Six Nations. Between them they possess 116 caps which will bring a wealth of experience to the line-up. Number 8 Rachel Taylor will lead the side in her second campaign as skipper.
Seven uncapped players were named in Wales’ extended Six Nations squad but Edwards has resisted the temptation to throw his untried players in to the lion’s den – although five have sufficiently impressed him to make the bench.
Front rowers Carys Phillips and Bethan Howell will join back rower Nia Davies on the bench, while full-back Dyddgu Hywel and winger Rafiuke Taylor also make the replacements.
WALES WOMEN: Rosie Fletcher (Neath Athletic); Caryl James (Cardiff Quins), Elen Evans (Waterloo), Rebecca de Filippo (Cardiff Quins), Philippa Tuttiet (Cardiff Quins); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol), Amy Day (Unattached); Megan York (Blaenau Gwent), Lowri Harries (Neath Athletic), Catrin Edwards (Cardiff Quins), Gemma Hallett (Pontyclun), Shona Powell Hughes (Neath Athletic), Catrina Nicholas (Cardiff Quins), Sioned Harries (Cardiff Quins), Rachel Taylor (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements: Carys Phillips (Cardiff Met), Bethan Howell (Seven Sisters), Jenny Davies (Waterloo), Nia Davies (Cardiff Met), Vicky Owens (Pontyclun), Laura Prosser (Pontyclun), Dyddgu Hywel (Caernarfon), Rafiuke Taylor (Sea View).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exiles), Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exiles); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Mowden Park Sharks/Exiles), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exiles), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: Stacey-Lea Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Exiles), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster), Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).
Referee: Claire Daniels (England)
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Shorte, Peter Evans (both Wales)
Pre-Match Quotes: Philip Doyle (Ireland Women) – “It was an extremely difficult decision in selecting the 23 players for this weekend’s match and even more difficult in selecting the starting line-up.
“The players have been working very hard over the last number of months and they made my job very difficult in team selection.
“Qualification for the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup is dependent on the result from both this year’s and last year’s Six Nations, so we will be looking to raise the bar again this year in terms of our performances.
“We are under no illusions of the difficulty that this campaign will hold for us as all teams are looking to qualify for the WRWC which is the pinnacle of the fifteen-a-side game.”
Rhys Edwards (Wales Women) – “I’m happy with the team selection because if you look at the squad from one to 15, all the players have got some international experience behind them.
“Even some of the younger players like Rosie Fletcher, who was one of the few positives to come out of last season, has got five caps to her name as has Rebecca de Filippo who is still only 18-years-old.
“With just one season of international rugby behind them, they have become established players in the side while the uncapped players who have made the bench are all there on merit and form.
“Ireland are getting better and better all the time and have an established line-up, but going into the match we are very confident. We’ve definitely got the players and the right game-plan, we just have to make sure we perform on the day.”
Pre-Match Links –
Recent Meetings –
2010: Women’s Six Nations: Ireland Women 18 Wales Women 3, Ashbourne RFC
2011: Women’s Six Nations: Wales Women 15 Ireland Women 14, Cross Keys RFC, Gwent
2012: Women’s Six Nations: Ireland Women 36 Wales Women 0, Ashbourne RFC