Six Nations Rugby Limited has today announced new dates for the rescheduled 2021 Women’s and U20s Six Nations Championships. The 2021 Women’s championship will take place in April with the U20s championship taking place in June and July.
Today’s announcement comes following the recommendation of a working group specifically tasked to examine various rescheduling options after the decision was taken on January 12th to postpone both championships due to the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.
Starting on the weekend of 3rd/4th April and finishing on 24th April, this year’s Women’s Championship will see a new and condensed format similar to that of the recent Autumn Nations Cup, culminating in a grand final weekend to crown the Six Nations Champions 2021. The format will comprise of two pools of three teams with each team playing one home and one away fixture. Once the pool round matches are complete, teams will face off against the opposing ranked team from the other pool in the play-offs matches, i.e. 1st place Pool A v 1st place Pool B. The detailed fixture dates, venues and kick off times will be announced in due course.
Six Nations Rugby Limited also confirmed today its intentions for the 2021 U20s championship to take place across June and July in the same format as originally planned, but through a condensed 3-week period. This plan will ensure all 6 Nations provide appropriate experience of such tournaments for the 2021 U20 generation. The tournament is expected to start on June 19th 2021 and further planning work is required to finalise details on fixtures, venues and kick off times which will be shared in due course.
Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby commented, “We are delighted to make this announcement today and confirm new plans for our Women’s and U20s championships. The promotion and development of rugby at all levels is a key strategic priority for Six Nations. We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight.”
“Our priority has always been to deliver two outstanding tournaments but equally ensuring both competitions can be played safely, taking every consideration for player welfare. A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window due to World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams. Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed that April would be the best window in which to stage the championship.
“The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career. We look forward to announcing fixture details for the U20’s in due course.”
Ireland Women make changes
Griggs has made three changes to his starting XV for the visit of Italy to Dublin, as Ireland bid to finish the 2021 Championship campaign in third position.
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood and Brittany Hogan are all in line for their first Test starts, while uncapped Railway Union flanker Grace Moore could make her Ireland debut off the bench. Born in London, Moore’s potential as an athletic and dynamic back row forward was identified through the IQ Rugby Programme and from there, the 24-year-old’s talent has been developed and honed by Anthony Eddy and the Ireland Women’s Sevens Programme.
Murphy Crowe, who came off the bench to make her debut against Italy last weekend, is promoted to the right wing, with Eimear Considine continuing at full-back and Beibhinn Parsons on the left wing.
Sene Naoupu and Eve Higgins are retained in the Ireland midfield, while Flood (pictured below) comes in at out-half for her third cap and first start having impressed off the bench in the games against Wales and France. The Ireland Sevens international partners Kathryn Dane in the half-back department.
Hogan’s inclusion in the back row is the only change Griggs has made to his pack, with the experienced front row of Lindsay Peat, Clidohna Moloney and Linda Djougang packing down together again, and Aoife McDermott and Nichola Fryday retained in the second row.
Hogan comes in at openside flanker, with Dorothy Wall continuing at blindside and captain Ciara Griffin once again leading from the back of the scrum.
On the bench, Neve Jones and Leah Lyons are included to provide front row cover alongside Laura Feely, with the uncapped Moore and Hannah O’Connor also named among the replacements. Backs Emily Lane, Hannah Tyrell and Enya Breen complete the Match Day 23.
Commenting on his selection, Head Coach Griggs said: “This week our focus has been on us and the quality of performance we know we can deliver. We learned some valuable lessons last weekend and we now have the opportunity to rectify some of the areas that we need to show more accuracy, and we want to finish this competition strongly which we are extremely excited about.”
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Italy Women, 2021 Women’s Six Nations Championship 3rd/4th Place Play-Off, Energia Park, Saturday, April 24, kick-off 12pm)
15. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster)(17 caps)
14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster)(1)
13. Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)(2)
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)(40)
11. Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/Connacht)(10)
10. Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)(2)
9. Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)(12)
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)(33)
2. Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(25)
3. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(11)
4. Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster)(15)
5. Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht)(17)
6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/ Munster)(6)
7. Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster)(3)
8. Ciara Griffin (Captain)(UL Bohemian/Munster)(35)
16. Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster)(2)
17. Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht)(18)
18. Leah Lyons (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)(25)
19. Grace Moore (Railway Union/IQ Rugby)*
20. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/Leinster)(4)
21. Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster)(2)
22. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(19)
23. Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster)(5)
* Denotes uncapped player
Ireland Team Named To Face Wales In Women’s Six Nations
Head Coach Adam Griggs has named his Ireland Match Day 23 to face Wales in Saturday’s Women’s Six Nations game in Cardiff, with Sevens international Eve Higgins set for her XVs debut in the centre and uncapped backs Emily Lane and Stacey Flood included on the replacements bench.
Ireland will be captained by Ciara Griffin in the opening game of their 2021 Championship campaign at Cardiff Arms Park (Kick-off 5pm, live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player), with Griggs’ starting XV showing three changes to the side that beat Italy at Energia Park last October.
Higgins, who has starred for Ireland on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in recent seasons, has impressed during Ireland’s preparations for the Six Nations and earns her debut cap in midfield alongside the experienced Sene Naoupu.
Sevens internationals Lane and Flood are included on the bench for their first taste of Championship action.
Eimear Considine returns to the full-back jersey as one of the three changes in personnel from the victory over Italy last time out, with Lauren Delany switching to the right wing and Beibhinn Parsons lining out on the left.
21-year-old Higgins, capped 20 times for Ireland Sevens, partners Naoupu in midfield, while the half-back pairing of Hannah Tyrrell and Kathryn Dane are retained having impressed against the Azzurri.
There is an unchanged front row named by Griggs as Lindsay Peat, Cliodhna Moloney and Linda Djougang once again pack down together, with the fit-again Aoife McDermott returning to the second row alongside Nichola Fryday.
Griffin leads the side from number eight, with Dorothy Wall set for her fifth cap at blindside flanker and Claire Molloy named at openside.
Uncapped duo Lane and Flood provide the half-back cover on the replacements bench, where they are joined by forwards Neve Jones, Katie O’Dwyer, Laura Feely, Brittany Hogan and Hannah O’Connor, with Enya Breen providing the additional backline cover.
Commenting on his selection, Head Coach Griggs says the competition for places within the squad has intensified in recent weeks as the squad stepped up their preparations at the IRFU High Performance Centre.
“We are extremely confident in the squad we have selected,” he said. “We have had a great deal of time to prepare together and this group of players have earned the responsibility to bring the high standards we have set ourselves throughout training into this first game.
“Wales at home will bring a strong challenge and we need to make sure we start the game well and build a platform that allows us to play our game and start this competition off with a win.”
Ireland’s opening game of the 2021 Women’s Six Nations is live on RTÉ and the RTÉ Player in the Republic of Ireland, while there is coverage on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Website for supporters in the UK.
IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Wales Women, 2021 Women’s Six Nations Championship Round 2, Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday, April 10, kick-off 5pm)
15. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/Munster)(15 caps)
14. Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby)(12)
13. Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster)*
12. Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)(38)
11. Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/Connacht)(8)
10. Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(17)
9. Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)(10)
1. Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)(31)
2. Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(23)
3. Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)(9)
4. Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster)(13)
5. Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht)(15)
6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/ Munster)(4)
7. Claire Molloy (Wasps/IQ Rugby)(70)
8. Ciara Griffin (Captain)(UL Bohemian/Munster)(33)
16. Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster)(1)
17. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster)(1)
18. Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht)(16)
19. Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster)(1)
20. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/Leinster)(2)
21. Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster)*
22. Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster)*
23. Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster)(4).
Five Uncapped Players Named In Ireland’s Women’s Six Nations Squad
All five have been capped at 7s and represented Ireland at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens. The quintet includes Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe who was the series Top Try scorer in 2019 and named in the Dream Team.
Stacey Flood, Eve Higgins, Emily Lane, Grace Moore and Murphy Crowe have been part of the training squad since the conclusion of the Championship back in October.
Claire Boles and Emma Hooban were also added to the squad at the same time and are named for the upcoming tournament.
Ireland will be without the experienced trio of Ciara Cooney, Edel McMahon, Claire McLaughlin and Grand Slam winner Larissa Muldoon as all four are unavailable due to injury.
A week later they are back at Energia Park to face France, with that game down for a 2:15 start.
The tournament concludes with a final round of games on April 24th determined by results over the first two rounds.
Ciara Griffin will captain the squad which also includes newcomers Katie O’Dwyer, Neve Jones and Brittany Hogan, who all made their debut against Italy last October.
Ireland head coach Adam Griggs commented: “It means a huge amount to us to have test rugby on the horizon. This group have been working very closely together over the past number of months and the Six Nations was always going to be a priority for us.
We have two more camps to fine tune things ahead of the first fixture and competition for match squad places will be high.”
Ireland Squad (Women’s Six Nations Championship 2021)
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/ Munster) 4
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/ Munster) 15
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/ Ulster) 10
Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/ IQ Rugby) 12
Aoife Doyle (Railway Union/ Munster) 6
Katie Fitzhenry (Blackrock College/ Leinster) 13
Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Eve Higgins (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/ Leinster) 12
Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster) *
Ellen Murphy (Blackrock College/Leinster) 7
Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster) *
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster) 38
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/ Connacht) 8
Laura Sheehan (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby) 4
Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/ Leinster) 17
Claire Boles (Railway Union/Ulster) 3
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/ IQ Rugby) 14
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/ Leinster) 9
Laura Feely (Blackrock College/ Connacht) 15
Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/ Connacht) 15
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/ Munster) 33
Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster) 1
Emma Hooban (Blackrock College/Leinster) 7
Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster) 1
Leah Lyons (Harlequins/ IQ Rugby) 25
Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/ Leinster) 13
Claire Molloy (Wasps/IQ Rugby) 70
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/ IQ Rugby) 23
Grace Moore (Railway Union/IQ Rugby) *
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/ Leinster) 2
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/ Leinster) 1
Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian/ Munster) 2
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/ Leinster) 31
Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/ Munster) 4
* Denotes uncapped at this level
Women’s Six Nations 2021 Fixtures
Wales v Ireland, Cardiff Arms Park, Saturday, April 10, 5pm
Ireland v France, Energia Parck, Saturday, April 17, 2:15pm