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Six Nations: Teams up for Ireland v England.

The teams have been announced for Ireland Women’s opening Six Nations international, against England Women, which takes place at Donnybrook on Friday 1st February, kicking off at 17:00.

Ulster Women and Old Belvedere players Claire McLaughlin and Kathryn Dane have made the squad, as replacements. The squad is made up of three from Munster, four who are Exiles, five from Connacht, nine  from Leinster and the 2 Ulster players. Six out of the seven All Ireland clubs are represented in the squad along with four Premier 15 teams.

Dane is included in the squad for the first time but it’s well overdue for the Enniskillen native who impressed last season in the AIL for her team Old Belvedere who she’s played for since moving to Dublin for college.

McLaughlin, who moved to Old Belvedere this summer to enhance her selection prospects, has been selected as back row replacement a new position which she trialled for Ulster Women in this seasons Inter-Provincials. Speaking of her possible appearance in the back row against a strong English side, Claire told The Front Row Union.

I’ve really enjoyed the transition to back row – I’m so glad Suff [Ulster Women’s coach Derek Suffern] threw me in there with Ulster during the interpros.

The coaches and girls in Irish camp have been great in getting me up to speed – it’s been a steep learning curve getting to grips with lineouts and the technical bits at number 8, but I’m absolutely loving the challenge, and can’t wait to get stuck in during the Six Nations!

Claire McLaughlin

Also of Ulster interest is the inclusion of former Ulster Women’s Players Laura Feely in Ireland’s front row and Poppy Cleall who features in the English second row. Both played for Ulster Women in 2011 including this exciting game against Munster where Feely made her Inter-Provincial debut I believe.

The squad features two other new starts with in-form Old Belvedere forward Linda Djougang and Connacht’s Anne-Marie O’Hora joining Dane and McLaughlin in the replacements. The highly rated Alison Miller also returns to the squad after a year off with injury.

It’ll be a tough game for Ireland against the now fully professional English side and, with the gulf between England and France and the rest of the Six Nations sides expected to widen over the coming seasons, this could be the last chance for Ireland to be reasonably competitive against Europe’s top sides.

France have decided to elevate their sevens side to secure qualification for the 2020 Olympics and are missing some big names for the game against Wales but England have no such problems, naming the best side available.

This has involved wheeling out their big guns with, 2014 Rugby World Cup winners, Sarah Hunter (108 caps), Katy Daley-Mclean (102 caps), Emily Scarratt (74 caps) and Marlie Packer (61 caps)  all starting.

IRELANDENGLAND
Lauren Delany15Sarah McKenna
Eimear Considine14Jess Breach
Sene Naoupu13Emily Scarratt
Michelle Claffey12Tatyana Heard
Megan Williams11Kelly Smith
Nicole Fowley10Katy Daley-Mclean
Ailsa Hughes9Leanne Riley
Laura Feely1Hannah Botterman
Leah Lyons2Lark Davies
Fiona Reidy3Sarah Bern
Aoife McDermott4Catherine O’Donnell
Nichola Fryday5Poppy Cleall
Juliet Short6Sarah Beckett
Claire Molloy7Marlie Packer
Ciara Griffin8Sarah Hunter
   
Emma Hooban16Amy Cokayne
Linda Djougang17Bryony Cleall
Anne-Marie O’Hora18Shaunagh Brown
Anna Caplice19Rosie Galligan
Claire McLaughlin20Rowena Burnfield
Kathryn Dane21Natasha Hunt
Ellen Murphy22Zoe Harrison
Alison Miller23Emily Scott

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