The Ireland coaching group have named Tadhg Furlong to captain Ireland as they take on Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in the Bank of Ireland Nations Series on Saturday afternoon (Kick-off 1pm, live on Virgin Media and Amazon Prime).

Furlong is the 109th player to captain Ireland as he makes his 62nd Test appearance in green. While Furlong is not the first prop to captain his country, the last one to do so was Simon Best against Argentina in 2007.

Johnny Sexton first captained Ireland against Russia at RWC19 in Japan and was then made permanent captain following Andy Farrell‘s appointment as Ireland head coach and Rory Best’s retirement.

Since taking over as Head Coach, Farrell has facilitated opportunities for the leadership group to wear the captain’s armband with James Ryan first captaining the side against England in 2020 and on three other subsequent occasions, while Iain Henderson led the group against France in 2021.

There are five players in the starting side to face Fiji that started games against the Māori All Blacks during the Summer Tour of New Zealand –  Jimmy O’Brien, Stuart McCloskey, Jeremy Loughman, Kieran Treadwell and Nick Timoney.

Tom O’Toole, Cian Prendergast and Craig Casey, who are amongst the replacements for Saturday’s game, also started matches in the Māori Series.

There are three uncapped players in the Match Day Squad – Loughman, who starts at loosehead prop, Prendergast who is covering lock and Jack Crowley, who is cover out-half.

All three featured for Ireland ‘A’ against the All Blacks XV last weekend along with Max Deegan, who is named on the bench and is line for his second cap having made his debut against Wales in February 2020.

Deegan, Prendergast and Crowley were part of the successful Emerging Ireland tour to Bloemfontein.

Ireland v Fiji

15. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 1 cap
14. Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 3 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 60 caps
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 7 caps
11. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Galway Corinthians) 7 caps
10. Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 36 caps
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 21 caps
1. Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen)*
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 29 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 61 caps CAPTAIN
4. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 9 caps
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 34 caps
6. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 21 caps
7. Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 31 caps
 
Replacements

16. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 119 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 3 caps
19. Cian Prendergast (Connacht/Galwegians)*
20. Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)*
23. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Bank of Ireland Nations Series Fixtures

IRELAND v Fiji
Saturday 12th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 13:00
IRELAND v Australia
Saturday 19th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 20:00

A 39-player Ireland squad today commenced preparations for Saturday’s sold-out Bank of Ireland Nations Series Test against Fiji at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 1pm, live on Virgin Media/Amazon Prime).

Connacht have six players named in the squad, Caolin Blade, Cian Prendergast, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury and Mack Hansen.

Unfortunately, Ireland’s latest centurion Conor Murray has been ruled out of the rest of the Series with a groin strain and will commence his rehab at Munster.

Robbie Henshaw, who missed out on Saturday’s game due to a hamstring issue, will reintegrate to training this week. Stuart McCloskey is recovering quickly from the arm issue that forced him off early against South Africa and will train this week.

Tadhg Furlong (ankle) is expected to take part in training this week while Ireland captain Johnny Sexton is recovering well from a dead leg.

From Friday night’s A game against the All Black XV, Ciaran Frawley suffered a twisted knee and will continue his rehab at Leinster. Joe McCarthy and Ryan Baird will continue their return to play protocols at Leinster.

Michael Milne, who featured against both the Pumas and the Cheetahs for Emerging Ireland in Bloemfontein, will train with the Ireland squad this week.

Ireland Squad – Bank of Ireland Nations Series:

Backs (16)

Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 3 caps
Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 1 cap
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 36 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) uncapped
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 21 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 7 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 60 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 24 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 7 caps
Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster)
Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 1 cap
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 45 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 109 caps CAPTAIN
Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 caps

Forwards (23)

Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 26 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 34 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 31 caps
Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 21 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 61 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 7 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 119 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 68 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 29 caps
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
Mike Milne (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 88 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 3 caps
Scott Penny (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
Cian Prendergast (Connacht) uncapped
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 47 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 11 caps
Gavin Thornbury (Connacht) uncapped
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 9 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 44 caps

Bank of Ireland Nations Series Fixtures:

IRELAND v Fiji
Saturday 12th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 13:00

IRELAND v Australia
Saturday 19th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 20:00

The Ireland coaching group have named the Ireland ‘A’ Match Day Squad that will take on the All Blacks XV at The RDS on Friday evening (Kick-off 7.45pm)

The Ireland ‘A’ side features 12 players who played against the Māori All Blacks during the Summer Tour of New Zealand – Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Ciarán Frawley, Dave Heffernan, James Hume, Jeremy Loughman, Michael Lowry, Joe McCarthy, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom O’Toole, Cian Prendergast and Nick Timoney.

Jamie Osborne is one of three from the Emerging Ireland squad in the starting line up alongside Prendergast and McCarthy.

Diarmuid Barron, Jack Crowley, Max Deegan and Calvin Nash, who were also on the Emerging Ireland Tour to South Africa, are named among the replacements.

Craig Casey will captain the side which features Jacob Stockdale, who last lined out for Ireland against Japan in July 2021, while among the replacements is Marty Moore whose last game for Ireland was against Scotland in March 2015.

Ireland ‘A’ v All Blacks XV (RDS, Friday, November 4th, 7.45pm)

15. Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
14. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) uncapped
13. Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas) uncapped
12. James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 3 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 caps
10. Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/Skerries) uncapped
9. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps Captain

1. Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
2. Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 7 caps
3. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 3 caps
4. Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin) uncapped
5. Gavin Thornbury (Connacht) uncapped
6. Cian Prendergast (Connacht) uncapped
7. Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
8. Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps

Replacements:

16. Diarmuid Barron (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
17. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 48 caps
18. Marty Moore (Ulster) 10 caps
19. Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
20. Max Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
21. Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 1 cap
22. Jack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution) uncapped
23. Calvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster) uncapped

The Ireland coaching team have named a 37-man squad for the upcoming Bank of Ireland Nations Series fixtures against world champions South Africa, Fiji and Australia at Aviva Stadium.An additional panel of players has been named for the Ireland ‘A’ fixture against the All Blacks XV which takes place in the RDS on Friday 4th November.Ireland will play the Springboks for the first time in six years when Jacques Nienaber’s World Cup-winning side return to Aviva Stadium on Saturday 5th November (Kick-off 5.30pm).Fiji also return to Dublin for the first time since 2017 on Saturday 12th November (Kick-off 1pm), while Ireland’s final game of the Series is against Australia on Saturday 19th November (Kick-off 8pm). Ireland last faced the Wallabies in the summer of 2018 where they secured a famous series victory.The Ireland squad will be captained byJohnny Sexton and there are six uncapped players in the squad: Ciaran Frawley, Jeremy Loughman, Joe McCarthy, Calvin Nash, Jimmy O’Brienand Cian Prendergast.Frawley, Loughman, McCarthy, O’Brien and Prendergast featured for the Ireland XV that played against the Maori All Blacks during the Summer Tour of New Zealand.Prendergast, McCarthy, Robert Baloucoune and Calvin Nash were also part of the Emerging Ireland squad that played against the Griquas, Pumas and Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier this month.The Ireland ‘A’ panel includes Tom Ahern, Diarmuid Barron, Jack Crowley, Shane Daly, Max Deegan, Jamie Osborne, Scott Penny and Roman Salanoa from the Emerging Ireland squad as well as experienced front-row forwards Dave Kilcoyne and Marty Moore.  Players in the A Panel will join the squad following Round 7 of the URC.Ireland ‘A’ take on a strong All Black XV squad on the 4th November in the RDS (Kick-off 7.45pm – tickets on General Sale via Ticketmaster.ie from Saturday 22nd October at 10am). The All Black XV squad features experienced Test players such as Damian McKenzie, TJ Perenara and Patrick Tuipulotu.There are limited tickets available for Ireland v Fiji at Aviva Stadium here.Ireland Squad – Bank of Ireland Nations Series 2022:Backs (16)Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 capsJoey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 35 capsCraig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 capsCiaran Frawley (Leinster/Skerries) uncappedJamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 20 capsMack Hansen (Connacht) 6 capsRobbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 60 capsHugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 23 capsMichael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 capConor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 99 capsStuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 6 capsCalvin Nash (Munster/Young Munster) uncappedJimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) uncappedGarry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 44 capsJohnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 108 caps CAPTAINJacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 35 capsForwards (21)Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 8 capsFinlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 25 capsTadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 33 capsJack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 30 capsGavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 capsCaelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 20 capsTadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 60 capsDave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 7 capsCian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 118 capsRob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 28 capsJeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncappedJoe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin) uncappedPeter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 87 capsTom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 3 capsAndrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 46 capsCian Prendergast (Connacht) uncappedJames Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 46 capsDan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 10 capsNick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 capsKieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 8 capsJosh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 43 capsIreland ‘A’ Panel:Tom Ahern (Munster/Shannon)Diarmuid Barron (Munster/Garryowen)Caolin Blade (Connacht/Galwegians) 1 capJack Crowley (Munster/Cork Constitution)Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Constitution) 2 capsMax Deegan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 capJames Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 3 capsDave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 48 capsMarty Moore (Ulster) 10 capsJamie Osbourne (Leinster/Naas)Scott Penny (Leinster/UCD)Roman Salanoa (Munster/Shannon)Bank of Ireland – Title Sponsor of Nations Series:The IRFU have secured Bank of Ireland as the title sponsor for Ireland’s Nations Series fixtures against South Africa, Fiji and Australia in November 2022 and the pre-World Cup fixtures in August 2023 at the Aviva Stadium against Italy (August 5th) and England (August 19th). Bank of Ireland are a long-time supporter of Irish Rugby and have sponsor partnerships with all four provinces supporting both the professional and domestic game.Kevin Potts, IRFU CEO, commented, “Bank of Ireland have built a strong connection to Irish rugby through their investment in our game over the past 20 years. Their provincial sponsorships are hugely beneficial not just to the professional game, but to the continued development of provincial club competitions and female representative teams. The arrival of the World Champions South Africa to the Aviva Stadium is a great fixture to cement this new partnership.”Speaking on the new sponsorship, Gavin Kelly, Interim CEO, Bank of Ireland said: “Bank of Ireland is a proud supporter of rugby in Ireland through our sponsorship of Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster Rugby. Today, we are delighted to further strengthen our involvement as title sponsor of the Bank of Ireland Nations Series. This new partnership with the IRFU underlines our long-term commitment to Irish rugby which is founded on the success of the provincial game and the extraordinary commitment of the players. We share the excitement of rugby fans across Ireland as we look forward to a really exciting set of matches in November against some of the world’s best teams – South Africa, Fiji, and Australia.”Bank of Ireland Nations Series and Ireland ‘A’ Fixtures:       IRELAND ‘A’ v All Blacks XVFriday 4th November, 2022, RDS, KO 19:45IRELAND v South AfricaSaturday 5th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 17:30IRELAND v FijiSaturday 12th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 13:00IRELAND v AustraliaSaturday 19th November, 2022, Aviva Stadium, KO 20:00

The Ireland U19 and U18 Schools squads, sponsored by PwC, will gather at the IRFU High Performance Centre in Dublin between November 2-4 to kick off the underage international representative programme for the 2022/23 season.

The PwC U18 and U19 Interprovincial Series took place in August and September and now the first National Camps kick into gear ahead of a further training camp in December and international fixtures in the new year.

The Ireland U18 Clubs squad will also be in camp in early November before travelling to Rome to play a fixture against their Italian counterparts in Rome on November 5.

In April next year, the Ireland U19s will play two fixtures against their French counterparts while the Ireland U18 squad will compete in the U18s Six Nations Festival.

Peter Smyth, IRFU Head of Elite Player Development, commented: “It takes a lot of people in a lot of different environments, firstly to get a player selected to international age grade and then when they are on an international age grade team to look after them and give them the best chance of ultimately performing  in a green jersey. So right back from the people we deal with in clubs and schools, their coaches, their parents, the volunteers and school teachers running right through to the professional staff who work in the provinces across both the domestic and performance sides of the game.”

“I think that’s why people delight in young players advancing and young players proving themselves at different levels, is because there is so much that has gone into that players’ journey from so many stakeholders throughout the game.  Everyone can feel ownership in it.”

Ireland U18 Clubs Squad:

Ambrose Bamber (Connacht/Sligo RFC)
Jack Boyhan (Leinster/Mullingar RFC)
Cian Brady (Connacht/Monivea RFC)
Daragh Brennan (Leinster/Tullamore RFC)
Andrew Doyle (Leinster/Athy RFC)
Patrick Egan (Connacht/Buccaneers RFC)
Connor Fahy (Leinster/Wexford Wanderers RFC)
Paidi Farrell (Leinster/Tullamore RFC)
Tomas Farthing (Connacht/Corinthians RFC)
Charlie Griffin (IQ Rugby/Harrow School)
Dylan Hicks (Munster/Bantry RFC)
James Harris (Leinster/Athy RFC)
Sam Mills (Leinster/Longford RFC)
Finian Murray (Connacht/Monivea RFC/Holy Rosary College)
Michael O’Donovan (Munster/Bantry RFC)
Arann Platt (Connacht/Sligo RFC)
Sean Rohan (Connacht/Buccaneers RFC/CBS Roscommon)
Mahon Ronan (Leinster/Boyne RFC)
Eoin Smyth (Munster/Midleton RFC)
Niall Tallon (Connacht/Buccaneers RFC)
Henry Walker (IQ Rugby/Hartpury College)
Bryan Walsh (Connacht/Corinthians RFC)
Matthew Wright (IQ Rugby/Kirkham Grammar)

Ireland U18 Schools Squad:

Jack Angulo (Leinster/Blackrock College)
David Armstrong (Ulster/Methodist College)
Fionn Casserly (Munster/Crescent College)
Emmett Calvey (Munster/Ard Scoil Ris)
Tom Coughlan (Munster/Presentation Brothers Cork)
Andrew Cosgrave (Leinster/St Michaels College)
Oscar Davey (Munster/Crescent College)
Mark Fitzgerald (Munster/Crescent College)
Michael Foy (Munster/Christian Brothers College)
Clarke Logan (Ulster/Coleraine Grammar School)
Marcus Lyons (Munster/Crescent College)
Ciaran Managan (Leinster/Newbridge College)
Eanna McCarthy (Munster/Christian Brothers College)
Oisin Minogue (Munster/St Munchins)
Charlie Molony (Leinster/Blackrock College)
Evan Moynihan (Leinster/St Marys College)
Alex Mullan (Leinster/Blackrock College)
Luke Murphy (Munster/Ard Scoil Ris)
Aaron O’Brien (Leinster/St Mary’s College)
Gene O’Leary Kareem (Munster/Presentation Brothers Cork)
Jed O’Dwyer (Munster/Crescent College)
Andre Ryan (Leinster/Belvedere College)
Jack Ryan (Munster/Rockwell College)
Johnny Scott (Ulster/Dromore High School)
Alan Spicer (Leinster/Belvedere College)
Tom Stewart (Leinster/St Michael’s College)
Paddy Taylor (Leinster/Newbridge College)
Matthew Te Pou (Munster/St Munchins)
Alex Usuanov (Leinster/Belvederd College)
Adam Watchcorn (Leinster/Kilkenny College)
James White (Leinster/St Michael’s College)
James Wyse (Leinster/Clongowes Wood College)
Mikey Yarr (Leinster/Blackrock College)

Ireland U19 Squad:

Jacob Boyd (Ulster/RBAI)
Tadhg Brophy (Leinster/Newbridge College)
Oliver Coffey (Leinster/Blackrock College)
Sean Condon (UCC/Munster)
Adam Deay (Leinster/Lansdowne FC)
Wilhelm de Klerk (Leinster/St Michaels College)
Sean Edogbo (Munster/UCC RFC)
Rory Ellerby (Ulster/RBAI)
Jules Fenelon (Leinster/St Michaels College)
Ethan Graham (Ulster/Ballynahinch RFC)
Max Flynn (Connacht/Corinthians RFC/Roscrea CC)
Lucas Kenny (Uster/Campbell College)
Luke Kritzinger (Leinster/Blackrock College)
Tom Larke (Leinster/Old Wesley RFC)
Flynn Longstaff (Ulster/Campbell College)
Mark Lee (Ulster/Rainey Old Boys RFC)
Ben McFarlane (Ulster/Methodist College)
James McKillop (Ulster/Foyle College)
Hugo McLaughlin (Leinster/Gonzaga College)
Blayze Molloy (Connacht/Ballina RFC/Clongowes)
Sean Naughton (Leinster/Kilkenny College)
Luke O’Connor (Leinster/Lansdowne FC)
Ben O’Connor (Munster/PBC)
Jake O’Riordan (Munster/St Munchins)
Grant Palmer (Leinster/Wexford Wanderers RFC)
Stephen Smyth (Leinster/Kilkenny College)
Zac Solomon (Ulster/Campbell College)
Andrew Sparrow (Leinster/St Mary’s College)
Josh Stevens (Ulster/Methodist College)
Finn Treacy (Leinster/Presentation College Bray)
Bryn Ward (Ulster/RBAI)
Richard Whelan (Leinster/Roscrea CC)
Adam Wrona (Munster/Christian Brothers Cork).

An Emerging Ireland squad will play three fixtures in the Toyota Challenge hosted in Bloemfontein, South Africa this coming autumn.

The Emerging Ireland squad will be led by Simon Easterby with other national team coaches Paul O’Connell, Mike Catt and John Fogarty supporting.

The 35 player squad will play three Currie Cup sides across a nine day period – the Windhoek Draught Griquas (30th September), the Airlink Pumas (5th October) and the Toyota Cheetahs (9th October).  All fixtures will take place at the Toyota Stadium, the home of the Cheetahs.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented, “This opportunity presented itself quite late but the drawn Series against the Māori All Blacks in July highlighted the value of exposing less experienced players to the rigours of an international set-up and the benefit that can be garnered from a challenging touring environment and exposure to the national coaching group.

This tournament will provide a significant development opportunity for a group of talented young players.”

Simon Easterby, Emerging Ireland Head Coach,

“The growth we witnessed in the less experienced players in New Zealand over the four weeks was incredible to see.  The two Māori fixtures were invaluable in broadening our talent pool ahead of RWC23 and the coaching group see this as another opportunity to increase the depth of talent available to the national squad ahead of the World Cup in France and beyond.”

The national coaching team will utilise this window to replicate the demands of the senior environment with the aim of accelerating the development of the Emerging Ireland group which will feature a host of players who have stood out at Ireland U20 level over the past few seasons.

Toyota Challenge 2022

Friday 30th September 2022
Windhoek Draught Griquas vs Emerging Ireland
KO: 12:45 (Irish time)

Wednesday 5th October 2022
Airlink Pumas vs Emerging Ireland
KO: 16:00 (Irish time)

Sunday 9th October 2022
Toyota Cheetahs vs Emerging Ireland
KO: 12:00 (Irish time)

Rugby World Cup-bound Japan took their chances early on, with Misaki Suzuki and Komachi Imakugi both crossing to establish a 15-0 lead, but Greg McWilliams’ experimental Ireland team gradually took control.

Neve Jones, who went on to score a hat-trick of tries, Aoife Doyle and new cap Aoife Dalton replied with scores, the latter one set up and converted by impressive out-half Dannah O’Brien on her debut.

With Ireland’s strong set-piece game showing the work done under specialist coaches John McKeeand Denis Fogarty, the maul propelled hooker Jones over on two more occasions as 19-15 quickly became 31-15.

Flying full-back Méabh Deely helped herself to a memorable debut try, before the Japanese briefly broke up the Irish momentum with an effort from close range by replacement Makoto Lavemai.

Nonetheless, with some determined performances off the bench, Ireland made sure to finish the first Test on their own terms and take their handsome try haul to nine.

18-year-old talent O’Brien finished with a dozen points from the tee, with replacements Chloe Pearse, Molly Scuffil-McCabe, who ran in a fine individual effort, and Emma Hooban all touching down during a late flurry.

Natasja Behan, Leahy Tarpey and Taryn Schutzler made it six debuts on a night that saw the Ireland Women score their most points and tries since beating Scotland 73-3 to win the 2015 Six Nations title.

Jones, who continued her excellent form from the Six Nations earlier this year, became only the fourth Irish woman to score a hat-trick of tries at Test level, after Lynne Cantwell, Alison Miller (3) and Sophie Spence.

The sides will meet again at Tokyo’s Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium next Saturday (kick-off 7pm local time/11am Irish time), when McWilliams’ charges will aim to clinch the series against the Sakura Fifteen.

As good as Ireland’s scrum and lineout were during this opening game, they provided the launchpad for Japan’s whirlwind start. Lesley McKenzie’s side exploited defensive gaps and showed the benefit of their recent matches together.

A nice move off a scrum led to busy flanker Kyoko Hosokawa carrying up towards the posts, and quick recycling allowed blindside Suzuki to score from a ruck just under the Irish posts. Ayasa Otsuka converted.

Even better followed for the hosts when a sweeping move from a lineout, out to the left, saw young winger Imakugi released for the try-line and a chasing Grace Moore was unable to deny her.

Japan threatened a third try before Otsuka knocked over a simple penalty, but Ireland got a grip on proceedings towards the end of the first quarter as captain Nichola Fryday led by example.

Tullow starlet O’Brien launched a penalty into the Japanese 22 and the forwards took over, Jones connecting with Fryday at the lineout and the well-organised drive delivered a try for the Ballymena native.

The left-footed O’Brien converted for her first international points, before strong-running centre Enya Breen, who had arguably her best game ever in the green jersey, spearheaded a superb break for try number two.

She dummied, arrowed through a gap and then linked with the pacy Deely who continued the move and it was her well-timed pass out of a tackle that put winger Doyle over near the left corner.

Number 8 Hannah O’Connor missed a long range penalty on the half-hour mark as Ireland looked to draw level on the scoreboard, but they redoubled their efforts just before the break.

After pressurising Japan into a lineout error, direct carrying from Linda Djougang, combined with a Breen turnover and a subsequent penalty, landed Ireland back within scoring range.

The resulting lineout did not go to plan, but Breen, Katie O’Dwyer and Fryday all made metres before O’Brien’s well-timed pass put 19-year-old centre Dalton powering through a tackle to give her side a four-point lead.

Openside Edel McMahon forced a penalty at the breakdown just after the restart, and Ireland took just 69 seconds to kick off the second half’s scoring. Jones connected with Fryday in the air before the lineout drive pocketed five more points.

Lovely hands from the backs had Ireland building promisingly from halfway again, although a penalty against McMahon allowed Japan to counter sharply before another handling error let them down.

Japan’s indiscipline, on the back of a defence-splintering run from Breen, gave the Ireland pack a sniff of the try-line once more, and Jones gobbled up another five-pointer from the maul. O’Brien converted crisply for a 31-15 lead.

Christy Haney made an immediate impact off the bench, winning a scrum penalty and then helping Jones to crash over for her third score of the night.

The midfield axis then combined to set Deely free from just inside the Japanese half. Dalton’s decoy run interested defenders and Breen’s inviting pass put the Ballinasloe youngster in between two defenders and there was no catching her.

Japan pulled the deficit back to 38-22 early in the final quarter, lifting the tempo and using a quickly-taken penalty to send replacement Lavemai barging in under the posts.

Unfortunately, the freshly-introduced Nicole Cronin injured herself in attempting to stop her and had to go off after suffering a clash of heads with Fryday. The versatile Scuffil-McCabe shifted to scrum half.

Djougang and ever-influential lock Sam Monaghan both managed to charge down kicks, the latter one allowing the alert Pearse to dot down the loose ball with 68 minutes on the clock.

The tries kept coming, Scuffil-McCabe spotting her chance to break from a ruck on the Japanese 10-metre line and her strength and speed ensured the grounding was good. O’Brien’s conversion took Ireland to 50 points.

With Monaghan hobbling off, Dorothy Wall switched to the second row and Tarpey came in to pack down on the flank. A pinpoint cross-field kick from O’Brien was brilliantly gathered on the bounce by Behan to keep Ireland on the front foot.

Breen missed out on a try that her performance deserved, just losing control of the ball close to the line, but the forwards added the icing on the cake.

Moore, who used her athleticism well in the loose, Pearse and McMahon all had a cut via a close-in scrum before Hooban reached out to score with little over a minute remaining.

Despite the ball falling off the tee as the clock went into the red, O’Brien showed a coolness beyond her tender years by drop-kicking her sixth successful conversion through the posts.

Full-time – Japan 22 Ireland 57

Head Coach Greg McWilliams has named his Ireland Match Day Squad, sponsored by Aon, for Saturday’s first Test against Japan at Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi City (kick-off 7pm local time/11am Irish time, live on TG4).

The Summer Tour is a valuable window for McWilliams and his coaching team to develop squad depth, build cohesion and expose a number of young players to the international arena, with four uncapped players included in the starting XV – captained by Nichola Fryday – and a further two set for their debuts off the bench.

Méabh Deely, Natasja Behan, Aoife Dalton and Dannah O’Brien all start in the Ireland backline, while second row Taryn Schutzlerand centre Leah Tarpey are named among the replacements for the Saturday night showdown against the Sakura Fifteen in Shizuoka.

It has been a breakthrough summer for fullback Deely, who in June made her Ireland Sevens debut at the opening leg of the Rugby Europe Championship in Lisbon, while Behan earns her first cap on the wing having been in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations squad earlier this year. Aoife Doyle completes the Ireland back three.

19-year-old Dalton, who along with O’Brien and Tarpey completed their Leaving Certificate in June, starts in midfield alongside Enya Breen, with out-half O’Brien partnering Ailsa Hughes in the half-backs.

Dalton, O’Brien and Tarpey are all part of the Women’s National Talent Squad (WNTS) and having first trained with McWilliams’ national panel back in February and then further impressed during the summer programme, earn their opportunity in green this weekend.

There is an experienced and powerful look to the Ireland pack with Linda Djougang, Neve Jones and Katie O’Dwyer named to start in the front row, with Fryday and Sam Monaghan selected as the second row pairing. Dorothy Wall, Edel McMahon and Hannah O’Connor complete the Ireland 23.

McWilliams has a number of strong options to come off the bench if required, including Emma Hooban, Chloe Pearse, Christy Haney, Schutzler and Grace Moore up front, and Nicole Cronin, Tarpey and Molly Scuffil-McCabe in the backline.

Speaking ahead of the game, McWilliams said: “Our extended squad of 51 players have worked incredibly hard all summer and we have got through a really pleasing body of work since arriving in Japan last Friday. The players have adapted brilliantly to difficult conditions and it has been a good week of preparation for us.

Saturday’s match is live on TG4 from 10.40am Irish time, while there will be extensive match day coverage on IrishRugby.ie and across Irish Rugby social media channels.

IRELAND WOMEN’S Team & Replacements (v Japan Women, First Summer Test, Ecopa Stadium, Saturday, August 20, kick-off 7pm local time/11am Irish time):

Player/Club/Province/Caps –

15. Méabh Deely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)*
14. Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)*
13. Aoife Dalton (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)*
12. Enya Breen (TBC/Munster)(14)
11. Aoife Doyle (Railway Union RFC/Munster)(10)
10. Dannah O’Brien (Tullow RFC/Leinster)*
9. Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(14)

1. Linda Djougang (TBC/Leinster)(22)
2. Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster)(11)
3. Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(10)
4. Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht)(27)(capt)
5. Sam Monaghan (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby)(9)
6. Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)(15)
7. Edel McMahon (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby)(19)
8. Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(12)

Replacements:

16. Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(11)
17. Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)(5)
18. Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)(4)
19. Taryn Schutzler (Saracens/Ulster)*20. Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby)(3)21. Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemian RFC/Munster)(20)
22. Leah Tarpey (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)*
23. Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)(2).
*Denotes uncapped player

The IRFU will advise delegates at its Annual Council Meeting later today (Friday 29th July) that Ireland Men’s Head Coach, Andy Farrell, has signed a two-year contract extension that will see him remain in his position until at least August 2025.

In his address to Council Kevin Potts, Chief Executive, IRFU, will congratulate and thank Andy, his coaching team, support staff and players for their historic win in New Zealand, while also confirming the contract extension.

Ahead of the Council meeting, IRFU Chief Executive Potts said: “I am delighted to confirm that Andy Farrell has accepted a two-year contract extension as the head coach of our men’s international team which will keep him at the helm of that team until at least August 2025, and there is an option to extend the contract further, based on a number of mutually agreed performance markers.

“Andy is one of the finest coaches in the world, he has brought our game to new heights and has the team playing a brand of rugby that excites, entertains, and engages people, while, critically, producing winning results.

“I would like to thank our Performance Director, David Nucifora, for his work in negotiating this extension with Andy.

“I, on behalf of all the Union delegates and Irish Rugby fans across the world, thank Andy for the exceptional impact he has had on Ireland’s performances to date, as we look forward to the year ahead, which will of course include the Rugby World Cup in France.”

Commenting on the new deal, Farrell said: “I am happy to extend my contract with Irish Rugby for a further two years. As a group we have made it clear that we are building towards the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and we have taken some decent strides in that regard in recent months.

“Ahead of the tour to New Zealand myself and David (Nucifora) looked at the opportunities and challenges facing the national squad after the tournament in France. I am excited about continuing to work with the group and with the next generation of Irish international players.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, added: “Andy is one of the outstanding coaches in world rugby and his work in leading the transition within the national team since the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been exceptional. Ireland are currently the number one ranked team in the world, an incredibly tough five match tour of New Zealand was a success on several levels and a Triple Crown was secured in the 2022 Six Nations Championship.

“A coach of Andy’s calibre is always going to be in high demand, and we are delighted that he has agreed to extend his contract with the IRFU.  This new deal, agreed prior to the Tour of New Zealand, allows us to plan beyond the 2023 Rugby World Cup with the certainty that one of the top coaching talents in the game is spearheading the national programme.”

Head coach Greg McWilliams has named the Ireland Women’s squad, sponsored by Aon, for the upcoming two-Test series against Japan.

Back-to-back matches against the Sakura 15s in August form part of a summer programme for McWilliams’ young side, and the exciting development opportunities ahead are highlighted by the inclusion of eight uncapped players in the touring party for Japan.

Forwards Clara Nielson, Jo Brown and Taryn Schulzter are named in the national squad for the first time having impressed during a series of recent camps at the IRFU High Performance Centre.

Backs Aoife Dalton, Dannah O’Brien, Emma Tilly, Kayla Waldron and Leah Tarpey also receive their first call-ups.

Dalton, O’Brien, Tilly and Tarpey are all part of the IRFU’s Women’s National Talent Squad, which was launched earlier this year.

Ireland will be captained once again by Nichola Fryday, as they open the series against Japan at Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi City, Shizuoka on Saturday, August 20, before a second Test against Lesley McKenzie’s team a week later, on Saturday, August 27, at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo.

The two teams most recently faced each other during the 2021 November internationals at the RDS, with Ireland earning a 15-12 win on that occasion.

Japan, currently ranked 12th in the world, are coming off the back of a historic Test victory over Australia and are currently preparing for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October.

The summer programme will provide McWilliams and his coaching staff with another valuable window to develop squad depth, build cohesion, and expose a number of young players to the international arena, with Japan set to provide a stern test.

McWilliams has included 13 players – including Kate Flannery who starred for Ireland during the recent Under-18 Women’s Six Nations Festival – on the stand-by list for Japan.

Aoife McDermott, Ella Roberts, Hannah Duffy, Jessica Keating, Jorja Battishill, Flannery, Leah Lyons, Meabh Deely, Muirne Wall, Shannon Touhey and Vicky Irwin have all been part of the national team summer programme and remain available for selection.

Unfortunately eight players – Alice O’Dowd, Aoibheann Reilly, Aoife Wafer, Eimear Considine, Ellen Murphy, Kathryn Dane, Nikki Caughey and Niamh Byrne – were unavailable for selection.

Commenting on the squad, McWilliams said: “We’re excited to finalise the touring squad for Japan having trained together as an extended group of 50 players since May.

“There is a strong mix of youth and experience in the panel and this is a great opportunity for the uncapped and young players, some of whom have come up through the pathway and the National Talent Squad programme.

“That in itself is really positive to see these players develop through the system and now get their opportunity in the senior team as we build ahead of next season.

This summer programme was designed to expose us to new environments and challenges and it has been brilliant to work with the group for an extended period leading up to our departure for Japan.

“We look forward to two tough Test matches and the positive experience touring will bring for the players and staff.”

In addition, former Fiji Men’s head coach John McKee has been added to the Ireland coaching team for the summer programme and will travel to Japan.

Kick-off times and broadcast details for the two Tests against Japan will be confirmed in due course.

Ireland Women’s Squad, Japan Tour:

Forwards:

Chloe Pearse (UL Bohemians RFC/Munster)
Christy Haney (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Clara Nielson* (Exeter Chiefs/IQ Rugby)
Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby)
Emma Hooban (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Grace Moore (Saracens/IQ Rugby)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Jo Brown* (Worcester/IQ Rugby)
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Blackrock College RFC/Connacht)
Linda Djougang (ASM Romagnat Rugby/Leinster)
Maeve Óg O’Leary (Blackrock College RFC/Munster)
Neve Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury/Ulster)
Nichola Fryday (Exeter Chiefs/Connacht)(Captain)
Sam Monaghan (TBC)
Taryn Schulzter* (Saracens/Ulster)

Backs:

Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Aoife Dalton* (Tullamore/Leinster)
Dannah O’Brien* (Tullow RFC/Leinster)
Emma Tilly* (MU Barnhall RFC/Leinster)
Enya Breen (TBC/Munster)
Kayla Waldron* (Hamilton Hawks/IQ Rugby)
Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks RFC/IQ Rugby)
Leah Tarpey* (Tullamore RFC/Leinster)
Molly Scuffil-McCabe (Railway Union RFC/Leinster)
Natasja Behan (Blackrock College RFC/Leinster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians RFC/Munster).

Ireland Women’s Japan Tour Fixtures:

  • Japan v Ireland, Saturday, August 20, Ecopa Stadium
  • Japan v Ireland, Saturday, August 27, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium

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