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

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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