Tierney eager to experiment in Ireland’s first Autumn International
The Ireland women’s team have been waiting long enough for their first Autumn International and this afternoon when they travel to the Stoop to take on England (3.0), coach Tom Tierney is eager to make the most of it as he looks towards the Six Nations.
Prior to today’s game, Ireland played just five games a year but having an extra challenge is sure to be hugely beneficial in a sport that is rapidly growing in this country.
Ireland have already been confirmed as hosts for the 2017 Women’s rugby World Cup and today’s game marks the latest in a long list of developments.
“We are looking forward to the game,” Tierney said.
“It’s the first time we have played an Autumn International which is another step in the development in women’s rugby.
“We have an opportunity to have a look at some new players and combinations building towards the Six Nations.”
Tierney has named 10 uncapped players in his match-day panel, including Lindsay Peat who helped guide the Dublin footballers to the 2010 All-Ireland title.
There are six debutantes included in the starting XV. Jeamie Deacon and Mairead Coyne are named on the wings with Aine Donnelly in midfield.
Cliodhna Moloney comes into the front-row with Elaine Anthony and Ciara Cooney named in the second-row.
Despite the inexperience, Tierney can also call on plenty of players who won the Grand Slam in 2013 as well as the Six Nations earlier this year.
The outstanding Niamh Briggs captains the side from full-back while Paula Fitzpatrick and Heather O’Brien, who both recently joined Toulouse from Munster, make up a formidable back-row alongside Sophie Spence who had an excellent last season.
England were defeated (11-0) by France last week and although their coach Scott Bemand has made three changes to the side, he can still call on plenty of experience. World Cup winners La Toya Mason and Emma Croker both start while so does Marlie Packer who is an excellent back-row operator.
Tierney has set out his stall by giving players a chance to impress. Ireland face a tough England side but the experience that they will gain will undoubtedly prove crucial further down the line.
England – S McKenna; K Mason, L Cattell, C Large, C Clapp; E Scott, L Mason; R Clarke, E Croker, J Lucas; J Taylor, A Scott; H Gallagher, M Packer, S Hunter (capt).
Reps: A Cokayne, V Cornborough, H Kerr, H Millar-Mills, I Noel-Smith, L Riley, R Lund, R Laybourn.
Ireland – N Briggs (capt); J Deacon, A Donnelly, J Shiels, M Coyne; S Naoupu, L Muldoon; R O’Reilly, C Moloney, A Egan; E Anthony, C Cooney; S Spence, P Fitzpatrick, H O’Brien. Reps: Z Grattage, F Reidy, F O’Brien, K Norris, L Peat, M Healy, N Stapleton, C McLaughlin.