The Ireland Women’s squad for the forthcoming IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France was named yesterday.
The 26 player squad features Belfast based Ashleigh Baxter (Harlequins) and Grace Davitt (Cooke) plus Donegal duo Larissa Muldoon (Bristol) and Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere). Unfortunately squad regulars Stacey Lea Kennedy and Amy Davis miss out due to long term injury.
The team jet off this weekend for their first warm up match, against Spain in Valladolid, and this is followed up two weeks later with a match against Wales in Malahide.
There are few surprises in the squad from the Six Nations with the only changes being the introduction of new cap Sharon Lynch in the forwards for Kennedy and experienced half back Tania Rosser, who featured in the 2010 Women’s World Cup, replaces Davis.
Ireland are drawn in a tough pool alongside, current World Champions, New Zealand, USA and Kazakhstan and will need to win the pool or qualify as the highest placed runners up if they are to achieve their goal of a top four placing.
It can’t be denied that the size of the challenge that lies before them is a big one. New Zealand have won every IRB sanctioned World Cup since the competition’s formation in 1998, and during that time Ireland have never finished higher than seventh, but Ireland have improved dramatically over the past four years and this group of players won’t regard themselves as underdogs.
The players have just completed their third weekend of intensive training and having visited them recently they are looking very sharp concentrating on an exciting fast and expansive game. You can read our interviews with Head Coach Philip Doyle here and Attack Coach Greg McWilliams here.
Commenting on the selection, head coach Doyle said:
We have just come off the back of three weekends of intensive training and unfortunately we had to cut the squad to just 26 players which has been difficult. Everybody applied themselves brilliantly and I would like to congratulate all for their involvement.
Women’s rugby is at an all-time high in Ireland and with that comes great expectation. We are well placed for the tournament and are all looking forward to heading to France and getting started.”Philip Doyle. Ireland Women Head Coach
Ireland open their campaign on Friday, August 1 with a tough encounter against the USA whom they played twice at the 2010 tournament in England.
TG4 have confirmed they are to broadcast Ireland’s pool games live as well as both semi-finals and finals. Ireland’s clash New Zealand will also be televised live on Sky Sports 1.
IRELAND WOMEN’S SQUAD
Backs (13): Ashleigh Baxter, Niamh Briggs, Lynne Cantwell, Hannah Casey, Grace Davitt, Paula Fitzpatrick, Niamh Kavanagh, Alison Miller, Larissa Muldoon, Jenny Murphy, Tania Rosser, Nora Stapleton, Jackie Shiels.
Forwards (13): Gillian Bourke, Fiona Coghlan, Kerrie-Ann Craddock, Ailis Egan, Orla Fitzsimons, Siobhan Fleming, Laura Guest, Fiona Hayes, Sharon Lynch, Claire Molloy, Heather O’Brien, Marie Louise Reilly, Sophie Spence.