Ireland name unchanged side for France clash in Six Nations

There is still no place in the side for young star Beibhinn Parsons with head coach Greg McWilliams sticking with the side which lost to Wales in Round 1
Ireland name unchanged side for France clash in Six Nations

26 March 2022; Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams with Nicole Cronin before the TikTok Women's Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and Wales at RDS Arena in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ireland boss Greg McWilliams has put full trust in his players by selecting an unchanged team to face France in the TikTok Six Nations on Saturday, despite losing to Wales first time out.

“It’s really important that you give players an opportunity to rectify and improve,” he said of the decision to keep with the same starting 15.

It also means he’s keeping superstar winger Beibhinn Parsons in hand to be sprung off the bench again.

“It shows confidence in the group,” he said. “It shows that there is good cohesion. It was a tough call from the group that we go again with the same, that everyone deserved that.

“Sometimes as a coach, you make one or two changes to a team. My first game in charge to my second, that can sometimes just send the wrong picture so I fully trust the group that we have to go again. We have to continually improve our DNA, that’s central to what we are doing when we represent Ireland.

“We learned a lot against Wales. There’s a certain amount of moxy that you need to play this game and it’s important that we understand that you need to have that as well as having the smarts.

“You need to be able to go into those physical cauldrons and compete. The group are aware of the areas we are working on, they have applied themselves brilliantly this week and now we have to go out to France and test ourselves against what is a formidable opposition.

“France have power and pace, particularly when they play at home, they get good energy off the crowd so they are going to come at us from all angles,” he conceded.

McWilliams hinted that Ireland may be a little less expansive this week against a ferocious French pack that has twice as many caps and way more experience in its bench also.

“It would be wrong of me as a coach to think you are going to play swashbuckling rugby the whole time. Rugby is a game where you need to be able to play the structured and the unstructured,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve focused on the unstructured and our ability to play open. We also need to have the ability to play tight, to play narrow so I think it’s one of those things, our plan and vision doesn’t change at all.

“It’s the exact same vision that we had before Wales but we understand that there are some things that we need to tidy up on in order that we are more successful.” 

He revealed that the team’s lineout and scrum coaches, Dave Gannon and Rob Sweeney respectively, consulted Paul O’Connell and John Fogarty, their counterparts with the Irish men’s team, this week to address some of the problems that occurred last week and said this collaboration is a regular occurrence.

Ireland team to play France:

15. Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), 14. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union RFC/Munster), 13. Eve Higgins (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), 12. Stacey Flood (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), 11. Lucy Mulhall (Wicklow RFC/Leinster), 10. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), 9. Aoibheann Reilly (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht); 1. Linda Djougang (ASM Romagnat Rugby/Leinster), 2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster), 3. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC/Leinster), 4. Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht) (capt), 5. Sam Monaghan (Wasps/IQ Rugby), 6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster), 7. Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby), 8. Brittany Hogan (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster).


16. Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), 17. Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), 18. Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), 19. Anna McGann (Railway Union RFC/Connacht), 20. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster), 21. Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere RFC/Ulster), 22. Enya Breen (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster), 23. Beibhinn Parsons (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht).

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