Connacht Rugby have launched a new Women’s U21 Rugby Initiative, with registration open now for all clubs.
 
The initiative, which consists of a five weeks of games at U21 level between participating teams, is designed to ‘bridge the gap’ between youth rugby and adult rugby for female players in the province.
 
This is particularly important ahead of the 2021/22 season, given many players missed the opportunity to play games during their final season at youth level due to COVID-19.
 
The focus will primarily be on fun and player development while still maintaining a competitive element.
 
Games will be played with 10 a side over a five week period. The aim is to give each team a minimum of 2 round robin games + a finals day where all teams will take part. Games will be kept as local as possible for the participating teams, with final schedules to be confirmed once all team entries are received.
 
Females born in 2001, 2002 or 2003 (provided they have reached their 18th birthday) are eligible to play, with the first round of games due to be played on the 17th/18th July.
 
The deadline for clubs to enter is 1st July 2021, and we would encourage all clubs to only register when they have a reasonable understanding of their likely player numbers and commitment levels.
 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER YOUR CLUB

With a growth in the number of girls playing rugby in Connacht, we are delighted to announce the Connacht Rugby’s Women’s U18’s and Women’s Senior Coaches.

Ross Mannion has been appointed Head Coach of the Connacht Rugby Senior Women’s Team, sponsored by Genesys, accompanied by Lyndon Jones as Backs Coach.

Ross was Head Coach of the AIL 2C winning Sligo team, he has worked with Connacht Rugby as a Club and Community Rugby Officer for 10 years and in his current position as Rugby Participation Officer for 2 years.

“I’m delighted with the opportunity to take on this position, I`ve worked with some of the current players many years ago when some of them were starting out on their pathway and have got to know some more through various programs they`ve delivered on these past two years.

The main things that have stood out for me, from these interactions, are their commitment to rugby, be that for club, province or country, and the appetite to learn and better themselves as players. Two fantastic characteristics to have in life never mind in a sporting context, so that really intrigued me as to what the potential is with in the current U18, Emerging Talent and Senior squads.

I hope myself along with all the coaches involved can help all these players reach their potential and fulfil their rugby ambitions or goals.”

Fraser Gow returns as Head Coach of the Connacht Rugby U18’s Team, sponsored by GMIT, alongside Luke O’Donnell as Backs Coach. Fraser expressed his excitement of returning to training and getting back to normal, “First and foremost we are really excited about a return to training, having the ability to get back out on a pitch and un-pause the plans we have in place.”

“It’s fantastic to see examples of players that have been developed by our clubs, progressed through the Connacht pathways and are now playing at the highest level. That is something we should all be extremely proud of but equally motivates us to aid the development of the next crop of talented players out there.”

As Connacht Rugby continue their partnership with Galway-based sports technology services company Clubforce, their Emerging Talent Programme helps bridge the gap between underage and senior level women’s rugby in Connacht.

Clubforce Emerging Talent Head Coach, Emer O’Dowd, is joined by Mary Healy, who has been appointed, Backs, Skills and Attack’s Coach.

Mary Healy adds that despite restrictions, Connacht Rugby aim for this year’s programme to be the most comprehensive yet.

“Every year we’ve always tried to improve and push what we can do in the summer programme. Despite restrictions, we aim for this to be the most comprehensive yet.”

“I’m delighted to be involved with the Clubforce Emerging Talent Squad, I’m looking forward to helping bridge that gap between underage & senior, keeping girls in the game, growing and developing their skills and knowledge so they can take that step up to senior level. My goal and Clubforce’s goal ultimately is to grow participation, this partnership gives us the opportunity to bridge that gap, keep girls in the game and grow and develop them as rugby players.”

Speaking on the appointed coaching team this year, Joe Gorham Head of Domestic Rugby at Connacht Rugby said:

“Absolutely delighted with the appointment of Ross Mannion as Head Coach of the Connacht Women’s Team. Ross, a valued member of the Club & Community team, has an impressive coaching CV built up in the past few seasons and I look forward to seeing him (and his coaching team) bringing the Senior squad to another level.

I am also delighted on the re-appointment of Fraser Gow and his Coaching Team to the Connacht Under 18 Girls squad. Under his leadership, we have made tremendous progress at this level and it is refreshing to see so many young talented girls coming through to the Connacht side from the 4 corners of the 5 counties!

It is fabulous to see that the Clubforce Emerging Talent Programme is ready to get up and running again under the safe hands of Emer O’Dowd and Mary Healy. This sector is vital to the Player Pathway programme for the Women’s Game and huge thanks must go to our valued partners Clubforce for supporting the Talent Programme.

Finally special thanks to our Volunteer Managers of the three squads Natalie Fox & Mark (Barney) Moran. Without their help and assistance, and indeed their passion for Connacht Rugby in general, we would not have made the huge strides that we have made in the past few seasons. Volunteers are the backbone of everything we do in Club & Community. Thank you to every club & school volunteer, we really appreciate all you do for us.”

Following the success of last year’s event, ‘Gain in the Game’ is back for 2020.
 
Gain in the Game is an opportunity for teenage female rugby players, and their parents, to gather together for one informative day that will help the players improve both on and off the field.
 

 
It all takes place on from 10am-3.30pm on Saturday 29th February at the Sportsground with four speakers. Connacht Rugby physiotherapist Rachel Wyer, Connacht Academy nutritionist Sophie Conroy, Personal Development Officer Aidan O’Flynn, and former Irish internationsl Alison Miller.
 
Each speaker will share his or her knowledge in their area of expertise, all with the aim of empowering the players and parents.
 
Registration is FREE, all you have to do is fill out the form below and we’ll see you there.
 

Ireland Women’s Head Coach Adam Griggs has named a squad of 24 ahead of their test match against Wales this Sunday (10th November, kick-off 1pm)
 
The Squad are fresh off the back of two training weekends in Scotland and in France where they had games against their Scottish and French counterparts.
 
Griggs has named six uncapped in the squad, Leinster’s Judy Bobbett, Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony, Hannah O’Connor, Katie O’Dwyer and Niamh Ní Dhroma along with Ireland 7s International and Munster’s Dorothy Wall.
 
Speaking ahead of the game, Griggs said “The camps in Scotland and France were invaluable, it gave us a chance to get quality time together as a squad and feed more information in to the players about how we want to go about playing and performing this season.
 
We were able to travel with a larger playing panel for each camp which gave all the players named in our initial squad the opportunity to put their hand up for selection which has driven our standards and made sure there’s been high quality competition for places in this test match squad named.
 
Ultimately we have picked a strong squad with a good mix of youth and experience who we feel can go out and deliver against Wales.”
 
Ireland Women’s Squad to play Wales Women (Women’s International, Sunday 10th November 2019, Kick-off 1pm)
Judy Bobbett (Blackrock College/ Leinster) *
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock College/ Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Victoria Dabanovich O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo/ IQ)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Galweigians/ Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/ Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemian/ Munster)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht)
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster)
Ellen Murphy (Gloucester-Hartpury/ IQ)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock College/ Leinster) *
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/ Leinster) *
Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galweigians/ Connacht)
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/ Connacht)
Dorothy Wall (Fethard/ Munster) *
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/ Leinster)
Niamh Ní Dhroma (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *

November Internationals Fixture:
Ireland Women v Wales Women
The Bowl, UCD, Dublin.
Sunday 10th November 2019
KO: 1.00pm

A squad of 26 players has been named by Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs ahead of their training camp in Scotland this weekend.
 
The Ireland Women are traveling to Edinburgh for a weekend training camp which will culminate with a training game against their Scottish counterparts on Sunday afternoon.
 
Speaking ahead of the trip, Griggs said:
 
We’re really looking forward to this weekend’s camp and the next few weeks ahead leading into our Test match against Wales. Each player included in the squad has been selected on their form through the Interprovincial Championship and the English Premiership.
 
“As well as having a larger squad to travel and play, this will give the coaching group a chance to look at different combinations and give the players a great opportunity to test themselves at an international level and see how they handle the step up in pace and intensity.
 
“We also have two new coaches on board this year, who have added real quality to the work Jeff Carter and Mike Ross have started with this group.
 
“Steven McGuinness, who works full-time with IQ Rugby, is our new forwards coach, and Kieran Hallett, who is with Leinster as an EPDO, has come in as our defence coach. It’s great to see the professionalism of the new coaches and the value they have brought to the players.”

 
This is the first of two away training camps and training matches the national side will undertake, with the squad traveling to France next week, ahead of their clash with Wales at the UCD Bowl on Sunday, November 10 (kick-off 1pm).
 
IRELAND WOMEN’S Squad (Training Camp, Edinburgh, Scotland, October 26-27, 2019):
Judy Bobbett (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Enya Breen (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Lauren Delany (Firwood Waterloo Ladies/IQ Rugby)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Galweigians/Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
Mary Healy (Lindenwood University/IQ Rugby) *
Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht)
Grace Miller (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster)
Ellen Murphy (Gloucester/IQ Rugby)
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht)
Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Juliet Short (Railway Union/Leinster)
Shannon Touhey (Tullamore/Connacht) *
Dorothy Wall (Fethard & District/Munster) *

* Denotes uncapped player at this level

IRELAND WOMEN’S SCHEDULE – KEY DATES:

October 26-27: Training Camp & Game, Scotland

November 2-3: Training Camp & Game, France

Sunday, November 10: Ireland Women v Wales Women, UCD Bowl, 1pm – click here to buy tickets

2020 Women’s Six Nations Championship:

Sunday, February 2: Ireland Women v Scotland Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, February 9: Ireland Women v Wales Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, February 23: England Women v Ireland Women, Castle Park, Doncaster, 12.45pm

Sunday, March 8: Ireland Women v Italy Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, March 15: France Women v Ireland Women, Le Stadium Villeneuve d’Acsq, Lille, 4.35pm local time/3.35pm Irish time

Connacht Rugby Club & Community are delighted to announce the appointment of Emer O’Dowd as the new Women’s Development Officer for North Connacht.
 
O’Dowd, who is originally from Balla Co. Mayo, first joined Connacht Rugby in 2008 and has held a number of positions – most recently as Projects & Participation Officer. In that role she has overseen events such as the Connacht Rugby Summer Camps which have grown to record numbers in the last number of years. She has also managed new projects such as ‘ProZone’ and has worked alongside the rugby participation team to increase playing numbers across the province.
 
The WDO for North Connacht is a new position funded by Connacht Rugby and the IRFU. O’Dowd will work in conjunction with current Women’s Development Officer Wendy Hickey who will have responsibility for South Connacht, while O’Dowd will work with clubs and schools in the North of the province.
 
Commenting on the news, Head of Domestic Rugby Joe Gorham said:
 
“We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Emer O’Dowd as our new Women’s Development Officer for North Connacht. Emer has been a hugely important member of the Club & Community staff for many years and I’m delighted that she will use her skills to further grow women’s rugby in Connacht. Her appointment, in conjunction with the release of our ‘Women of the West’ strategy earlier in the week, shows that we have huge ambitions to grow the women’s game in the coming years and put it at the forefront of everything we do.
 
I wish her every success in her new role.”

Ireland Women’s head coach Adam Griggs has named a squad of 37 ahead of their busy November schedule, which will see them travel to Scotland and France for training and practice games ahead of a November 10 Test against Wales at the UCD Bowl.
 
There are 10 uncapped players who have been included after an impressive IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship which saw Leinster overcome Connacht in a hard-fought final at Energia Park last Saturday evening.
 
Leinster’s Judy Bobbett, Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony, Grace Miller, Niamh Ni Dhroma and Katie O’Dwyer have all earned Ireland selection. They are joined by Shannon Touhey from Connacht and Munster’s Dorothy Wall who also make their first appearances in a national squad.
 
Mary Healy, a former Leinster Under-18 player who is currently studying at Lindenwood University in Missouri, USA, was invited to national training camps throughout the summer while home and, as part of the IQ Rugby programme, has been tracked and identified to come back into the IRFU national set-up.
 
Speaking about the squad announcement, Griggs said:
 
We are really excited to announce our squad for the season ahead. The Interpros have identified some brilliant talent, and with the extended games and finals series, players had the opportunity to show their skill and grow throughout the competition.
 
“It has been a very tough selection process and we have picked players purely on form. We are confident we have a really strong group to take us through this autumn. Shannon Touhey from Connacht had an outstanding series, helping them to the final, and she now gets the opportunity to come into the national squad to develop her all round game.
 
“Leinster’s Hannah O’Connor, who has been part of the national set-up now for over a year, also stood out for her performances during the Interpros and will be striving to earn her first cap for country.
 
“There’s a good mix of youth and experience throughout the squad which will drive our standards and make sure there is high quality
competition for places as we head towards the Six Nations and the 2021 Rugby World Cup qualifiers next summer.”
 
The Ireland Women have a busy few weeks ahead, preparing for the November 10 clash with Wales at the UCD Bowl (kick-off 1pm). They have two away training camps, which will include training games against Scotland (October 26-27) and France (November 2-3).
 
IRELAND WOMEN’S Squad (2019 November Training Camps & Test v Wales):
Judy Bobbett (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Enya Breen (UL Bohemian/Munster)
Anna Caplice (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)
Michelle Claffey (Blackrock/Leinster)
Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster)
Nicole Cronin (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Victoria Dabanovich-O’Mahony (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Lauren Delany (Firwood-Waterloo Ladies/ IQ Rugby)
Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Laura Feely (Galweigians/Connacht)
Nichola Fryday (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt)
Mary Healy (Lindenwood University/IQ Rugby) *
Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster)
Claire Keohane (Railway Union/Munster) *
Leah Lyons (Harlequins/IQ Rugby)
Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster)
Claire McLaughlin (Old Belvedere/Ulster)
Edel McMahon (Wasps/Connacht)
Grace Miller (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby)
Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union/Leinster)
Ellen Murphy (Gloucester-Hartpury/IQ Rugby)
Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Niamh Ni Dhroma (Old Belvedere/Leinster) *
Hannah O’Connor (Blackrock/Leinster) *
Katie O’Dwyer (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Anne-Marie O’Hora (Galweigians/Connacht)
Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Connacht)
Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Laura Sheehan (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Juliet Short (Railway Union/Leinster)
Shannon Touhey (Galwegians/Connacht) *
Dorothy Wall (Fethard & District/Munster) *
Megan Williams (Old Belvedere/Leinster)

* Denotes uncapped player at this level

IRELAND WOMEN’S SCHEDULE – KEY DATES:

October 26-27: Training Camp & Game, Scotland

November 2-3: Training Camp & Game, France

Sunday, November 10: Ireland Women v Wales Women, UCD Bowl, 1pm

2020 Women’s Six Nations Championship:

Sunday, February 2: Ireland Women v Scotland Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, February 9: Ireland Women v Wales Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, February 23: England Women v Ireland Women, Castle Park, Doncaster, 12.45pm

Sunday, March 8: Ireland Women v Italy Women, Energia Park, 1pm

Sunday, March 15: France Women v Ireland Women, Le Stadium Villeneuve d’Acsq, Lille, 4.35pm local time/3.35pm Irish time

Connacht Rugby have launched their strategy for the development of the women’s game in the province.
 
“Women of the West” sets out ambitious targets to increase participation rates right throughout the province and develop the pathway for players to transfer from underage grades to senior adult rugby.
 
The strategy is fully aligned with the IRFU Women in Rugby Action Plan and is based on the core principle of integration with all departments of Connacht Rugby.
 
Women’s rugby in the province has seen some significant developments over the past twelve months both on and off the field. The emergence of Beibhinn Parsons to become the youngest ever player capped for Ireland at the age of 16 has demonstrated the good work being invested in the women’s game by clubs like Ballinasloe RFC.
 
Off the field there has been another first as Anne Heneghan now holds the position of Senior Vice President of the Connacht Branch of the IRFU. In the 2020/21 season Ms Heneghan will be the first woman in any province to be elected President of their home Branch. Furthermore, she has recently been accepted as a Judicial Officer with World Rugby.
 
Connacht Rugby also recently announced the appointment of a second Women’s Development Officer, with Emer O’Dowd taking up the role to work in conjunction with current WDO Wendy Hickey. O’Dowd will oversee the development of woman’s rugby in North Connacht with Hickey working with clubs in the south of the province.
 
Commenting on the launch of the strategy, Head of Club and Community at Connacht Rugby, Joe Gorham said: “We are delighted to be publishing our four year strategy, Women of the West. We have engaged with our clubs and schools in the province, along with coaches and people working on the ground to develop the game. That has helped to develop a comprehensive and ambitious plan to grow the game in every area. Our strategy is based on the principle of integration not segregation. We want people from the women’s game to add value not just in the women’s game but in all areas of Connacht Rugby. We already have some incredible players and coaches involved in the game and this strategy is about developing a clear pathway for the young girls of tomorrow to get involved and more importantly to stay involved in playing, coaching or administration”.
 
The following are some of the key targets set out in the strategy
• 23 Clubs with a Female Mini Rugby section by 2023
• 10 Clubs with a Full Female Rugby Pathway by 2023 (Mini, U14, U16, U18 & Adult)
• 114% overall increase on Player base by 2023 (Additional 735 Players)
• ‘Staying in the game’ programme – This is a fully developed strategic programme aimed at former players and players nearing the end of their playing careers, which allows them to pursue other aspects of the game such as coaching, refereeing and/or administration.
• Introduction of an emerging talent programme
• Designed specifically to address the talent fall off years after U18s
• Build on progress made in the first of this programme in 18/19 (Year-long sponsored programme)
• Aim for 25/30 participants per season with a Transition target of 30% to the Connacht Women Senior Squad.
• Have 2 competitive teams in the AIL by 2023
• Representatives from women’s rugby involved in all sub committees of the Connacht Branch.

The Connacht U18 Girls team has been announced for tomorrow’s Interprovincial Championship 3rd/4th place playoff against Leinster in Barnhall (k/o 1pm).
 
The squad will be looking to finish their campaign on a high after a heartbreaking defeat to Ulster in last week’s semi-finals.
 
Best of luck to all the squad and management.
 
CONNACHT U18 GIRLS V LEINSTER (U18 GIRLS INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP 3RD PLACE PLAYOFF, BARNHALL, 1PM).
1. Mary McLoughlin
2. Emily Gavin
3. Zara Grehan
4. Eva McCormack (C)
5. Grace Browne Moran
6. Mollie Starr
7. Hannah Johnston
8. Ivana Kiripati
9. Olivia Haverty
10. Aisling Browne
11. Katie Hogan
12. Megan Walsh
13. Ava Ryder
14. Fodhla Ni Bhraonain
15. Nina McVann

Replacements
16. Molly Ager
17. Dara Moran
18. Aisling Hahessy
19. Katelyn Bourke
20. Rachel Larkin
21. Caoimhe Geraghty
22. Maeve Muldoon
23. Alana Roche

The Connacht Womens management team have named their starting XV for tomorrow’s IRFU Women’s Interprovincial Championship Final, with the squad going in search of a historic first interpro title.
 
There’s one change to the side that impressively saw off Munster in the semi-finals last week, with Aifric O’Brien coming into the second row where she’ll be joined by Tara Buggie.
 
Nichola Fryday captains the side from 8 where she’ll be flanked by Ciara Farrell and Edel McMahon, while Laura Feely, Moya Griffin and Annmarie O’Hora complete the pack in the front row.
 
Vice-captain Mary Healy and Meabh Deely continue their half-back partnership, as do Shannon Touhey and Catherine Martin in midfield. Aoibheann Reilly is named at full-back with last week’s try-scorers Alison Miller and Beibhinn Parsons on the wing.
 
Kick-off at Energia Park, Donnybrook is at 7pm and the game will be streamed LIVE on the Irish Rugby Facebook and YouTube pages.
 
CONNACHT WOMEN V LEINSTER (IRFU WOMEN’S INTERPROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL, ENERGIA PARK, 7PM)
1. Laura Feely
2. Moya Griffin
3. Annmarie O’Hora
4. Tara Buggie
5. Aifric O’Brien
6. Ciara Farrell
7. Edel McMahon
8. Nichola Fryday (C)
9. Mary Healy
10. Meabh Deely
11. Alison Miller
12. Shannon Touhey
13. Catherine Martin
14. Beibhinn Parsons
15. Aoibheann Reilly

Replacements
16. Elizabeth McNicholas
17. Katie Murray
18. Sinead Rigney
19. Lily Brady
20. Shannen Lane
21. Nicole Fowley
22. Orla Dixon
23. Aisling Brosnan
 

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