2016-17 France Women International Rugby Women Ireland Women Six Nations Women

Six Nations. McLaughlin starts, Van Staden, Caughey and Muldoon bench against France

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 Coyne15Jessy Trémoulière
Kim Flood14Camille Grassineau
Jenny Murphy13Caroline Ladagnous
Claire McLaughlin12Elodie Poublan
Eimear Considine11Shanon Izar
Nora Stapleton10Camille Cabalou
Mary Healy9Jade Le Pesq
Lindsay Peat1Lise Arricastre
Leah Lyons2Gaelle Mignot
Ailis Egan3Julie Duval
Sophie Spence4Lenaig Corson
Marie Louise Reilly5Audrey Forlani
Ciara Griffin6Marjorie Mayans
Claire Molloy7Romane Menager
Paula Fitzpatrick8Safi N’Diaye
Ciara O’Connor16Caroline Thomas
Ilse van Staden17Annaelle Deshayes
Ruth O’Reilly18Celine Ferer
Ciara Cooney19Laetitia Grand
Nichola Fryday20Yanna Rivoalen
Larissa Muldoon21Lucille Godiveau
Nikki Caughey22Marine Ménager
Louise Galvin23Paricia Carricaburu

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