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'They are just desperate to play now' - Ireland count down to Women's Six Nations opener

Adam Griggs’ team begin their campaign away to Wales on 10 April.

Ireland's Anna Caplice tackles Beibhinn Parsons.
Ireland's Anna Caplice tackles Beibhinn Parsons.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FOLLOWING MONTHS OF disappointments and setbacks, the Ireland Women’s squad are “jumping out of their skin” as they head into their first match week of the delayed 2021 Six Nations.

The tournament was due to take place in it’s usual February-March window but was postponed due to concerns surrounding coronavirus.

The Women’s World Cup, scheduled to take place in New Zealand this autumn, has also been delayed a year, while Ireland have also seen qualification fixtures for that tournament shelved.

As a result the Ireland squad have been limited to a series of training camps, with their most recent competitive fixture a rearranged 2020 Six Nations game against Italy last October, a 21-7 win in Donnybrook.

The 2021 Women’s Six Nations finally kicked-off this weekend, with England and France recording comprehensive wins against Scotland and Wales respectively.

Ireland are finally back in action when they take on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

“I think they are jumping out of their skin,” said Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Women’s and Sevens Rugby who was speaking from the squad’s training base in Blanchardstown today.

“I heard Adam [Griggs, head coach] say the other day we’ve had 20 camps without playing a match, and to their credit they’ve turned up week-in, week-out, and prepared as well as they possibly could. 

ciara-griffin Ireland captain Ciara Griffin. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“They’ve had setbacks with postponements of games and World Cups and preparations around qualification processes and everything else, but they are just desperate to play now, so I’m really excited for them and hope we have a really good campaign.”

Adam Griggs’ squad includes five uncapped players, all of whom have represented Ireland at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens. 

“We’ve managed to have some internal trials, so sort of the old possibles versus probables scenario, and we’ve immersed a number of the Sevens girls into the programme as well just to give them some game time through those trial games,” Eddy added.

“They’ve now been fully immersed into the programme and put their hand up around selection, so there’s some really good competition for spots.

“They are really competent players and the skill level is very good. So I think it’s just a matter of them getting a little bit of gametime in the 15s and some exposure, which they have had over the last couple of months, to put their hand up and see how they go.”

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Eddy also noted the role captain Ciara Griffin has played in keeping morale up as the squad dealt with a series of setbacks and postponements.

“I should mention Ciara Griffin as a leader.

“She’s been outstanding with the group around the setbacks and the false starts, so between her and the management team, they’ve kept the group together and focused on what we need to achieve, and I’m sure we’re going to have a really positive Six Nations campaign.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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