After five training weekends, a friendly against England and training during the week, we are dying for the Six Nations to begin…The game will now take place at Ashbourne RFC…

This year there has been a change in coaching staff and retirements of a few experienced players. Obviously there has been a small level of disruption for a squad but on the up side it brings new ideas and new talent. At the moment the squad has a good blend of experience and exciting new talent.

For the France game, Niamh Briggs and Amy Davis are two up and coming backs, getting their first Six Nations start and they will be looking to make their mark in this tournament. In the forwards Leinster’s Louise Austin, a powerful and dynamic player will be hoping to make inroads in the French defence. Assisting Louise in the pack is her Leinster back row partner Sinead Ryan. It is an all Leinster second row containing Caroline Mahon and Orla Brennan. The front row contains experienced prop Fiona Coghlan and hooker Yvonne Nolan. Marshalling the troops at scrumhalf is the diminutive but lethal Tania Rosser.

There is such depth in the squad now we have two experienced internationals on the bench that will be looking to make an impact if called upon; they are Leinster duo Shannon Houston and Grace Davitt. Grace was Leinster player of the year this year and can play both centre and wing.

As the Six Nations is about to begin, all teams know the importance of this competition with everyone having the World Cup in their sights but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Up first is France a team we know we are capable of beating. France are somewhat of an unknown team as we don’t hear much about their squad throughout the year. Our last match against France was a draw, with Ireland winning on more tries scored. They are always a dangerous team to play, as they play a game full of flair and when things go right for them, they are very difficult to stop.

Italy are only in the Six Nations since 2007 so they are developing every year. Last year they got there first win of the competition over Scotland, so they will be looking to better that this year.

One would assume that England will be favourites. Although England are sending a Sevens Team to the World Cup in Dubai for the first 2 games they have strength and depth in their squad to still be able to field a very strong team and when we eventually get to play them, they will have all their players available. England have been the power houses of the Women’s game around the world for some time now.

Previously we would have been happy to be within 20 points of England but for this group of players, it is not good enough any more. In our last three meetings with England the difference in the score-line has been 11 points or less. It is testament to the squad that England requested a friendly against Ireland prior to the Six Nations as they felt it was worthwhile preparation and competition. In this game Ireland led for 70 minutes and it was heart-breaking to leak two tries in ten minutes.

Wales and Scotland are two teams that have been our nemesis over the years. On a number of occasions they have beaten us by a solitary point. Over the last two years we have beaten Scotland in convincing fashion but they are a team that play with such heart. We have only beaten Wales once which was qualification for the last World Cup. They are a tough team to break down and they finished 2nd last year and won’t want to moved from there.

For the Irish girls, it is all to play for and we are demanding an improvement on last year from ourselves.


15: Joanne O’Sullivan (Richmond/Ulster)
14: Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster)
13: Lynne Cantwell (UL Bohs/Munster)
12: Helen Brosnan (Highfield/Munster)
11: Jeanette Feighery (UL Bohs/Munster)
10: Niamh Briggs (Clonmel/Munster)
9: Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster)

1: Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohs/Leinster)
2: Yvonne Nolan (Blackrock/Leinster)

3: Gillian Bourke (UL Bohs/Munster )
4: Caroline Mahon (UL Bohs/Leinster)
5: Orla Brennan (Blackrock/Leinster)
6: Louise Austin (Blackrock/Leinster)

7: Sinead Ryan (Navan/Munster)
8: Joy Neville (UL Bohs/Munster) CAPTAIN