Ireland will look to get there stuttering Women’s Six Nations campaign back on track this evening in Donnybrook at 7pm live on RTE. They face France who will be looking to pick up a win that will keep them in touch with Championship leaders England.
For Ireland, it will be about find the right blend in attack and defence that will help them to defeat France who have made a few changes coming into this game and have welcomed back Jessy Tremouliere who has been out since last Autumn with a leg injury.
Ireland have made a few changes to the XV that took Italy last time out with Claire Mc Laughlin coming into the side at number 8 in place of Anna Caplice who has a spot on the bench. Enya Breen replaces the unfortunate Michelle Claffey at outside centre and Sene Naoupu will need to help her younger college through a tough 80 minutes.
The Irish side can look back to 2017 for inspiration where an aggressive display in defence led to an Irish win by a tight margin. This campaign has been mixed with a heavy loss to England in week 1, then followed by a morale boosting win over Scotland and then a tight contest in Italy which Italy deservedly won 29-27. So It is time for Ireland to find form and no better way then to beat France in Donnybrook with a game against Wales to come in the Final week.
Over the last few seasons, a number of new players have been blooded to replace many of the 2013 Grand Slam side and also the winning members of the 2015 Championship winning side. A few players like Jenny Murphy may make a re appearance having stepped away from rugby after the 2017 World Cup on home soil.
This evening is a massive chance to marry both defence and attack and see will that be enough to gain a much needed win. All roads lead to Donnybrook at 7pm this evening….
Our Under 20s have gone under the radar and secured the Six Nations title with a week to spare after a tight 31-29 win in Irish Independent Park. Having beaten England in week 1, people sat up and took note of this squad that has made a number of changes from last year.
Harry Byrne who wasn’t at 10 last night due to injury has been playing really well but he deputy last night Ben Healy who is a Garryowen player having won the Munster Schools Cup last year with Glenstal made himself feel really at home and did a great job in attacking the French defence when called upon.
His partner in crime Craig Casey was like a Duracell bunny last night he was doing everything, tackling, snipping, passing and box kicking. Hopefully the injury that ended his evening with 10 minutes remaining isn’t serious enough to rule him out of the Welsh game in Colwyn Bay next Friday.
Noel Mc Namara has done a great job getting this side to play heads up rugby and they will now want to finish the job they started by beating England in week 1. This team has benefitted from a few sessions with the senior team and you could see that a number of times last night in the scrum and also in close quarters where the Irish defence held up the French maul numerous times including in the final minute that brought the game to a successful finish.
Time now, for the 20s to try and finish the job next Friday evening and complete the first Grand Slam at 20s level since 2007 when Cian Healy, Simon Zebo and Peter O Mahony were members of the last side to win the Grand Slam at this level….
All the best to Noel Mc Namara and his charges next week….