Source: ©INPHO/Robbie Stephenson

A Look Ahead to Ireland v Wales

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There has seldom been a more significant fixture between these two nations than this one. Ireland are fighting to find their feet again after suffering a series of grievous events. Wales at least have an invitation card to the World Cup, but their world has been equally devastated by their past treatment by the WRU. Both have new head and assistant coaches in place; both are hoping to lay down a marker for future progress.

Greg McWilliams has published his first Irish squad:

15. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians, 23 caps), 14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union, 6 caps), 13. Eve Higgins (Railway Union, 6 caps), 12. Stacey Flood (Railway Union, 7 caps), 11. Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow, 1 cap), 10. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians, 16 caps), 9. Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock, uncapped), 1. Linda Djougang (Romagnat, 17 caps), 2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury, 6 caps), 3. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union, 5 caps), 4. Nichola Fryday (captain, Exeter Chiefs, (22 caps), 5. Sam Monaghan (Wasps, 5 caps), 6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock, 10 caps), 7. Edel McMahon (Wasps, 14 caps), 8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere, 7 caps)


16. Emma Hooban (Blackrock, 8 caps), 17. Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian, 2 caps), 18. Christy Haney (Blackrock, uncapped), 19. Anna McGann (Railway Union, uncapped), 20. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock, 7 caps), 21. Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere, 18 caps), 22. Enya Breen (UL Bohemian, 9 caps), 23. Beibhinn Parsons (Blackrock, 15 caps)

Inevitably this looks like a sweep clean. Gone are Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat and Sene Naoupu, and, for less obvious reasons, Cliodhna Moloney. Leading Sevens players again make their mark, helping to add the maximum strength to Irish potential. Lucy Mulhall, the Sevens captain, takes the No 11 shirt at the expense of the electric Beibhinn Parsons.

One crucial call is giving Aoibheann Reilly a debut at scrum-half. She has impressed McWilliams in training; Ireland have enough fire-power out behind to benefit from the fastest service possible from the base of scrum, line-out and ruck.

This is Wales’ 23:

15. Kayleigh Powell (Bristol), 14. Lisa Neumann (Sale), 13. Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), 12. Kerin Lake (Gloucester-Hartpury), 11. Jasmine Joyce (Bristol), 10. Elinor Snowsill (Bristol), 9. Keira Bevan (Bristol), 1. Gwenillian Pyrs (Sale), 2. Carys Phillips (Worcester), 3. Cerys Hale (Gloucester-Hartpury), 4. Natalia John (Bristol), 5. Gwenn Crabb (Gloucester-Hartpury), 6 . Alisha Butchers (Bristol), 7. Alex Callender (Worcester), 8. Siwan Lillicrap (captain, Bristol)


16. Kelsey Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), 17. Cara Hope (Gloucester-Hartpury), 18. Donna Rose (Saracens) 19. Sioned Harries (Worcester), 20. Bethan Lewis (Gloucester-Hartpury), 21. Ffion Lewis (Worcester), 22. Robyn Wilkins (Worcester), 23 Sisilia Tuipulotu (Gloucester-Hartpury)

This is a more predictable selection for Ioan Cunningham. The one major doubt concerned the captain, Siwan Lillicrap, who had the misfortune to test positive for Covid recently. We must all hope that she is fully restored to health. The timely return to favour of Sioned Harries would help to reduce worries, should the captain not be 100%.
It’s not often you can ask: how often will a team get the ball into the hands of one player? But in the case of Jaz Joyce is not far off the mark.

Wales have rarely won in the emerald isle, but there can be no certainty about the result of this encounter in a new venue for the 6N.

Match Details

Date and Venue: Saturday 26 March
RDS Arena, Dublin, KO 16.45

Officials :

Referee: Kat Roche (USA)
ARs: Hollie Davidson (SRU) and Nikki O’Donnell (RFU)
TMO: Claire Hodnett (RFU)