Two November Tests and extended inter-pros in Ireland Women's 13-month plan

The plan aims to have Ireland in ideal shape for the World Cup Qualifiers in September 2020.

THE IRFU HAS confirmed that Ireland Women will play two November Tests as part of a 13-month “integrated season plan” to prepare them for the crucial Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in September 2020.

The 13-month schedule also includes an extended five-week Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship, which begins next month.

Eimear Considine celebrates her try with Michelle Claffey and Sene Naoupu Ireland Women have a busy 13 months ahead. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

Ireland Women hope their plan for the build-up to the Qualifiers leaves them in good shape to secure their place at the 2021 World Cup.

Ireland’s poor performance at the 2017 World Cup on home soil means they did not automatically qualify for the 2021 tournament in New Zealand.

They will face Scotland, Italy and the winner of the 2020 Rugby Europe Championship in the Qualifiers, but there is plenty of water to pass under the bridge between now and then.

The IRFU’s plan begins with a national team camp early next month, before the kick-off of the 2019 Inter-Provincial Championship, which has been extended to five rounds to include semi-finals, a third-place play-off, and a final.

The Women’s All-Ireland League [AIL] gets underway in October, the same month that Ireland Women head to Scotland for a national team camp alongside their Scottish counterparts.

Two Test matches in November should prove beneficial to Adam Griggs’ side, while the AIL continues in December.

Ireland will return to national camp in January, with as-yet-unconfirmed training games to take place that month before the 2020 Six Nations kicks-off at home to Scotland on 1 February, running through until 14 March.

The AIL and domestic cup competitions will conclude in April, with national team players then “being managed through a four-week off-season” up to the end of May.

Anna Caplice and Ellen Murphy dejected after the game Ireland will hope to bounce back from a miserable 2019 Six Nations campaign. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland return to training in June, with nine national team camps between that month and August, as well as training games – which have also yet to be confirmed.

That preparation will lead into the Qualifiers in September, when Ireland will look to ensure they continue their record of having featured in every World Cup since the 1994 edition.

This year, Ireland endured their worst Six Nations campaign in 13 seasons, finishing fifth after one win and four defeats. Those poor results left Griggs’ team sitting 10th in the World Rugby rankings.

Ireland did not play any summer Tests in recent months, but they hope this 13-month plan can turn their fortunes around.

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“We have really good clarity on what we feel we need as a group to achieve our goal of qualifying for the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2021,” said Ireland Women head coach Griggs.

“Over the coming months, we must keep developing as a playing group, while at the same time understand how important it will be to manage our playing resources so that we are can hit the ground running in September 2020.

“The structure of the season allows us to see the players in a number of different environments and the increased number of national camps and games will be hugely beneficial as we build towards next September, as will a comprehensive summer programme working together as a squad ahead of the qualification games.”

Ireland Women 13-month plan:

  • Early August 2019: National camp 
  • August/September 2019: 5-week Inter-Pro Championship including semi-finals, third-place play-off, and final
  • October 2019: AIL begins, national camp in Scotland with Scottish national team
  • November 2019: Two November Tests
  • December 2019: AIL
  • January to March 2020: National camps, training games, leading into Six Nations
  • April 2020: AIL concludes
  • May 2020: Four-week off-season
  • June to August 2020: Nine national camps, training games TBC
  • September 2020: Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifiers vs. Scotland, Italy and 2020 Rugby Europe Championship winner

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