Ireland’s Director of Women’s Rugby Anthony Eddy, despite his claims otherwise, has decided to throw all his eggs into one basket by withdrawing three players from the national squad in an attempt to bolster the Ireland Women’s Sevens team.
All expectations were, following repeated failures in the sevens game, culminating in the failure to qualify for the Olympics last season, that Ireland would focus all their attention on the 2017 World Cup in Ireland.
This appears not to be the case following the withdrawal of Alison Miller, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Tyrrell from the Ireland Squad, in favour of the 7s programme, in the middle of the Six Nations Series. Imagine if that happened in the men’s game!
However, the likely driving force between swapping players between 7s and XV’s has probably nothing to do with development of either squad but more an accounting exercise to proportion some of the cost of contracted 7’s players, and the Women’s Director of Rugby, into the XV’s programme to artificially inflate the XV’s programme spend.
Anyway, let’s get to the current selection.
Kim Flood, Claire McLaughlin and Eimear Considine come in for Tyrell, Naoupu and Miller respectively. Mary Healy comes in as starting scrum half and up front Sophie Spence comes into second row.
Of the players called into the 7s, the loss of Miller in the back three leaves a massive hole to be filled, Miller being the only go forward back on display over the last couple of games. I am, however, delighted to see McLaughlin get a start alongside Murphy and it’s something I called for in my Scotland preview. It might just present a more stable centre paring that the rest of the backs can play off.
Having said that, I suspect it’s going to be a difficult game for any of the backs to really shine as Ireland’s best hope is to play ten man rugby, though France are more than capable of responding upfront. Their wonderful captain, Gaelle Mignot, leads the way in the pack and she’ll be ably backed by, the impressive pair, Lenaig Corson and Safi N’Diaye. Their battles with Spence and Paula Fitzpatrick will be the key to the game.
On the bench Ruth O’Reilly makes a return as front row replacement alongside Ulster’s Ilse van Staden and Larissa Muldoon, who hopes to return to Ulster provincial rugby next season, makes a welcome return to the squad alongside fellow Ulster player Nikki Caughey.
The FRU Predicts: I put this down as a win for France from the start of the Six Nations. There may just be a chance that Ireland Women will focus all the negativity around this match into a performance on the pitch, but I’m still going with the French. 🙁 Hopefully the players will prove me wrong. #COYGIG
|Mairead Coyne||15||Jessy Trémoulière|
|Kim Flood||14||Camille Grassineau|
|Jenny Murphy||13||Caroline Ladagnous|
|Claire McLaughlin||12||Elodie Poublan|
|Eimear Considine||11||Shanon Izar|
|Nora Stapleton||10||Camille Cabalou|
|Mary Healy||9||Jade Le Pesq|
|Lindsay Peat||1||Lise Arricastre|
|Leah Lyons||2||Gaelle Mignot|
|Ailis Egan||3||Julie Duval|
|Sophie Spence||4||Lenaig Corson|
|Marie Louise Reilly||5||Audrey Forlani|
|Ciara Griffin||6||Marjorie Mayans|
|Claire Molloy||7||Romane Menager|
|Paula Fitzpatrick||8||Safi N’Diaye|
|Ciara O’Connor||16||Caroline Thomas|
|Ilse van Staden||17||Annaelle Deshayes|
|Ruth O’Reilly||18||Celine Ferer|
|Ciara Cooney||19||Laetitia Grand|
|Nichola Fryday||20||Yanna Rivoalen|
|Larissa Muldoon||21||Lucille Godiveau|
|Nikki Caughey||22||Marine Ménager|
|Louise Galvin||23||Paricia Carricaburu|