The IRFU released its 2012/13 womens rugby calendar this week, two months out from the AIL league opening weekend September 23.

Connacht heavyweights Galwegians 2011/12 Leinster-Cup champions and reigning All-Ireland Cup titleholders open as fifth-seeds courtesy of their league finish last winter.They will meet all their old favourites in the round-robin competition minus Navan who succumbed to Division Two (South) champions Tralee in the promotion-relegation match.

Tralee and Galwegians already share history having met in the 2013 All-Ireland Cup semi-final in County Kerry.

Tralee trailed 3nil and 6nil throughout much of the match until the 74th minute when livewire test cap Siobhan Fleming latched onto a Galwegians pass and raced 65m to give Tralee a 7-6 lead with less than four minutes to play. Galwegians snatched victory with a final play of the game try to reclaim the lead and contniue their march to the final.

No other Connacht club will contest an All-Ireland league, but promising strides made within the province will once again pit Sligo, Buccaneers, Carrick-on-Shannon, NUIG and Tuam against each other in localised league and cup competitions. Whether any of the above will contest one of the provincial cups beyond the knockout Connacht Invitational Cup 2013 remains to be seen.

Sligo claimed line-honours in last winter’s development league over Buccaneers, but Buccaneers exacted telling revenge in the cup pipping Sligo in the semi-final match-up. Buccaneers claimed the silverware over a plucky Carrick-on-Shannon in the cup final but only by virtue of the final 30 minutes. Such was the standard on show throughout the latter stages of last winter, it no longer carries the “development” moniker. 

Womens co-ordinator Wendy Hickey said all those involved showed through performance that Connacht’s domestic rugby competition is as competitive as open and underage rugby in the province. 

The IRFU womens interprovincial tournament opens on December 1, and continues through the weekends of 08/12 and 15/12. Connacht meets reigning champions Leinster in Galway first up, are away to Munster the week after, and host Ulster on the weekend of the 15th.

The Six Nations competition is scheduled for February 3, continues the weekend after but breaks on the 17th. It resumes for a one week on the 24th, breaks again and concludes with a two-week finale on March 10 and 17.

Any and all womens rugby queries may be directed through Connacht HQ on 091 561 568, or through club liaison officers at Galwegians, Tuam, NUIG, Carrick-on-Shannon, Buccaneers, Sligo. Underage womens rugby continues this winter in Dunmore, Connemara, Westport and Ballina.

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