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Leinster hope to see women's inter-pros expanded from three rounds

Head coach Ben Armstrong says his players are keen for more inter-provincial fixtures in the future.

LEINSTER COACH BEN Armstrong and his team would like to see the IRFU Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship expanded from its current format of three rounds.

Armstrong’s Leinster team will face Munster in Donnybrook this Saturday [KO 7.30pm] in a winner-takes-all showdown for this year’s title, after both sides won their two opening games.

1 Leinster captain Sene Naoupu during the win over Connacht on Sunday. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

The current format of the championship sees each province play the others just once, but Armstrong and many of Leinster’s players hope an expansion in the future will mean home and away fixtures every year.

“It is stressful, but it would be good to be into that,” said Armstrong.

“The fact that we are looking for more games before it so we’re hitting it better prepared, a second round of games on a home-and-away [basis] would be ideal.

“I think the girls have been wanting that for a couple of years now.

“Maz [Reilly, the former Ireland lock] is in our management team and I know that has been floated, but whether it goes that way, we’ll wait and see.

“If you could play right up into the autumn internationals, barring the injuries, you’d be happy that the girls are well prepared to go into those and put their best foot forward for Ireland.”

While the future of the inter-provincial championship may lie in home-and-away ties, the decision to move the series from December to late August/early September this year has largely been welcomed.

The start of the Women’s All-Ireland League has been pushed back to the end of September as a result, but the new schedule appears to be an improvement.

2 Leinster have yet to concede a point in this year's championship. Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

With Ireland set to face England and the US in the November Tests, national team coach Adam Griggs has been encouraged to see many international players and new faces shining in the inter-pros.

“Certainly, everyone has an eye on that and it’s hard when you are talking to players that are racing back from injury,” said Armstrong.

“Our squad is so settled, it’s hard to have those conversations with players who are missing out and have aspirations of playing for Ireland.

“But talking to Adam, he is watching the games with a smile on his face because he can see that the competition is right there, the standard is shooting up.

“Ulster have improved, the result yesterday [45-0] didn’t reflect the physicality that Connacht brought to that game,” said Armstrong.

“So Adam is happy that all of the provinces have made massive gains because of the structure and it is all going to look good for the November internationals.”

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Murray Kinsella

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