The Leinster Rugby Women have come together to make up for their final day defeat to Munster in last year’s Interprovincial Championship.

They will go without the experience of Ireland international forwards in the retired duo Sophie Spence and Orla Fitzsimons and number eight Paula Fitzpatrick, who has taken time out of the game to run an Arctic marathon.

It isn’t all bad news as Leinster have managed to recruit Ulster out-half Nikki Caughey and Munster scrum-half Ellen Murphy to ramp up their options at half-back.

Connacht’s Katie O’Dwyer has also made the move to the Eastern Province and New Zealander Nicole Purdom is an interesting addition to the back row.

Jeamie Deacon and Hannah O’Connor have both made the switch from the centre to the back row with O’Connor offering the extra skill of goal-kicking.

Leinster Rugby Women

The change in order this season means the Interpros will take place before the start of the All-Ireland League.


This has afforded coach Ben Armstrong and his assistants Tom McKeown and Phil de Barra the time to properly prepare.

There has been a three-day camp out in The King’s Hospital where the coaches and players have had time to go into finer detail on how they want to play and who they have to play.

Leinster Rugby Women

“At the moment, the girls are professional with their attitude, they are professional with their performance,” said Armstrong.

“I can’t fault the support we’ve had from Leinster. We were out in King’s Hospital. We have had our video work. We have had the time needed to come together as a group and the girls lapped it up.”

Sene Naoupu

It is a journey into the unknown even though there is experience there in the Ireland presence of Lindsay Peat, Aoife McDermott and Ciara Cooney as well as backs Megan Williams and captain Sene Naoupu.

“Maybe, there is a changing of the guard,” added Armstrong.

“But, a lot of the girls coming through have been playing longer than some of the girls that have left. The experience is gone.

“The rugby knowledge is there and the enthusiasm is top notch. They are like sponges. They just want to know more and more.

“It is a performance environment. The next step is green for them and we spoke about that in the first meeting with them about what we want to achieve and what it can mean for them.

“The more successful we are in the Interpros, the more players will be putting their hands up for Ireland. That’s the beauty of this.”

Leinster start their campaign against Ulster at Stradbrook on Friday night (KO 7pm).

This will give them the opportunity to shake off the cobwebs before venturing West for a stern test against Connacht in Galway.

The plan would be for it to come down to another final day showdown with holders Munster which will lead to a different result.

Leinster Rugby Women

15. Lauren Farrell McCabe (Suttonians RFC)*
14. Gemma Matthews (Old Belvedere RFC)*
13. Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College RFC)
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere RFC) CAPTAIN
11. Elise O’ Byrne White (Old Belvedere RFC)
10. Nikki Caughey (Railway Union RFC)*
9. Ellen Murphy (Old Belvedere RFC)*
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union RFC)
2. Emma Hooban (St Mary’s College RFC)*
3. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC)*
4. Aoife McDermott (Railway Union RFC)
5. Meg Kendall (Railway Union RFC)
6. Jeamie Deacon (Blackrock College RFC)
7. Juliet Short (Railway Union RFC)
8. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC)*

16. Ann Marie Rooney (Blackrock College RFC)
17. Christy Haney (St Mary’s College RFC)
18. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere RFC)*
19. Mairead Holohan (Blackrock College RFC)
20. Nicole Purdom (Suttonians RFC)*
21. Niamh Griffin (Blackrock College RFC)
22. Nicole Carroll (Suttonians RFC)
23. Ray Lawless (Blackrock College RFC)*

*Denotes uncapped player


Leinster v Ulster, Friday, 31st August, Stradbrook, KO 7pm

Connacht v Leinster, Sunday, 9th September, The Sportsground, KO 3pm

Leinster v Munster, Saturday, 15th September, Energia Park, KO 7.30pm