NEW Ireland women’s coach Greg McWilliams will take his team on a tour of the country during next season’s Six Nations, with games fixed for Dublin, Cork and Belfast in March and April 2022.
However, it won’t be plain sailing for the IRFU, with the Energia Women’s All Ireland League (AIL) final currently scheduled to clash with the game against France in round two of the tournament, while the women’s sevens team are also competing in a World Series event in Langford, Canada on the same weekend as the final game against Scotland.
Clubs are understood to be concerned that their players will miss several weekends for camps in the build-up to the tournament which is scheduled to begin after the men’s Six Nations reaches a conclusion.
Wales visit the RDS on the opening weekend, with Italy playing at Musgrave Park and Scotland the guests in Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium.
This will be former USA men’s assistant McWilliams’s first tournament in charge since taking over from Adam Griggs in the wake of Ireland’s failure to qualify for the 2021 World Cup and the November international wins over the United States and Japan that marked the end of Ciara Griffin’s and Lindsay Peat’s involvement with the team.
It is understood the IRFU are meeting with clubs in the next few weeks to see if they can change their AIL fixture plans to avoid a clash.
The sevens clash is unavoidable, however, and it will be interesting to see if the likes of Beibhinn Parsons, Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe, Stacey Flood and Eve Higgins will be allowed to complete the XVs campaign or if they will be whisked off to Canada to play what could be a key tournament for the sevens side.
“We are delighted to announce that it will be even easier for fans around the county to support our women’s team in the 2022 Six Nations as we look at increasing the accessibility, profile, and interest in our women’s rugby team across the country,” chief executive Philip Browne said in a statement.
“Support for the team has grown strongly as they moved from Ashbourne, to Energia Park and the RDS and we hope that by bringing the team closer to the provincial clubs that are developing women’s and girls’ rugby, we can encourage even more female involvement, at all levels.”
Ireland Six Nations Fixtures:
March 26: Ireland v Wales, RDS
April 2: France v Ireland, TBC
April 10: Ireland v Italy, Musgrave Park
April 24: England v Ireland, TBC
April 30: Ireland v Scotland, Kingspan Stadium