The teams have been announced for the refixed Six Nations fourth round match between Ireland and Italy. The match will take place at Donnybrook on Saturday evening. Kick off 18:30. It will be broadcast on RTE 2 but no coverage in the north as yet.
The game is a bit of a dead rubber, as far as the Six Nations goes, but it’s an important step in the return to normality and its a chance to get some game time under their belts ahead of the 2021 World Cup qualifiers in December.
I count seven changes to the 23 players used during the first half of this competition way back in February.
Neve Jones and Brittany Hogan follow Claire Boles to the senior side from the invincible 2016 Ulster U18’s though both will be looking to get their first start from the bench. They are joined by fellow Team FRU 2017 player Enya Breen who makes a welcome return to the centre after spending most of last season injured.
The legend that is Claire Molloy comes straight back into the squad after her year off and AIL stalwarts Katie O’Dwyer, Hannah O’Connor and Ailsa Hughes all start on the bench, O’Dwyer looking for her first start.
The team has an experimental feel to it, the most spectialative change being ex Ireland 7’s winger Hannah Tyrrell starting at out half! To a lesser extent, Hogan, an out and out centre in my book, comes into the the squad as second row cover. The game is a dead rubber and changes, properly communicated with other players and club coaches, are no bad thing when there is little at stake. The more important selections will be those made in December and, hopefully, in next years World Cup, should they get there.
I am particularly looking forward to seeing Jones’ involvement if she gets on the pitch. Her debut has probably been delayed by 2 years but I think that it will be an epic battle between Jones and the wonderful Cliodhna Moloney for the hooker starting spot for years to come. They really are two peas out of the same pod.
Jones and Hogan are joined by, fellow Ulster player, Kathryn Dane who continues at scrum half. The responsibility for protecting the inexperienced Tyrrell will fall on Dane’s shoulders who should relish the chance to control the tempo of the game.
With the changes, it looks like the management are gong for a, comparatively risky, fast paced game, all over the park, in this first outing since February.
It may well be the correct game plan against a match starved Italian side but it does point their opponents towards a simple option of slow down, spoil and keep it in the forwards if they want to cause an upset.
Italy’s impressive 2019 form looks to have gone off the boil slightly in the two games they managed to play in the 2020 tournament so far. However, they can slug it out with the best of them when they choose to. They are boosted by the return of Manuela Furlan with the 73 times capped fullback returning as captain after 18 months of injury.
It’s a hard one to predict given the circumstances. If Italy had to win it I suspect they would but this one will probably go with the home side and it could be a convincing win at that.
|IRELAND WOMEN||ITALY WOMEN|
|Lauren Delany||15||Manuela FURLAN (C)|
|Laura Sheehan||14||Vittoria OSTUNI MINUZZI|
|Enya Breen||13||Michela SILLARI|
|Sene Naoupu||12||Beatrice RIGONI|
|Béibhinn Parsons||11||Aura MUZZO|
|Hannah Tyrrell||10||Veronica MADIA|
|Kathryn Dane||9||Sofia STEFAN|
|Lindsay Peat||1||Silvia TURANI|
|Cliodhna Moloney||2||Melissa BETTONI|
|Linda Djougang||3||Lucia GAI|
|Nichola Fryday||4||Sara TOUNESI|
|Ciara Cooney||5||Giordana DUCA|
|Dorothy Wall||6||Francesca SGORBINI|
|Claire Molloy||7||Giada FRANCO|
|Ciara Griffin (C)||8||Elisa GIORDANO|
|Neve Jones||16||Giulia CERATO|
|Katie O’Dwyer||17||Erika SKOFCA|
|Leah Lyons||18||Michela MERLO|
|Brittany Hogan||19||Valeria FEDRIGHI|
|Hannah O’Connor||20||Francesca SBERNA|
|Ailsa Hughes||21||Sara BARATTIN|
|Larissa Muldoon||22||Beatrice CAPOMAGGI|
|Katie Fitzhenry||23||Benedetta MANCINI|
NOTE: Friday 23rd October 2020 10:45 The IRFU advise that Laura Sheehan and Leah Lyons will replace Eimear Considine and Laura Feely respectively. The above team list has been amended accordingly.
|Sat 24th Oct||RD4||Ireland||Italy||18:30|
|Sun 25th Oct||RD4||Scotland||France||14:20|
|Sun 1st Nov||RD5||France||Ireland||13:30|
|Sun 1st Nov||RD5||Wales||Scotland||16:15|
|Sun 1st Nov||RD5||Italy||England||17:00|
|Sun 6th Dec||RD2*||Italy||Scotland||17:20|