Given the week that is in it, tonights game in the RDS is bound to mean a lot to the Irish players, fans and management.
At the start of the week comments from the Women’s Rugby Director Anthony Eddy caused controversy, with hooker Cliodhna Moloney regarding the interview as “slurry spreading”.
An outpouring of support from teammates including captain Ciara Griffin, Lindsay Peat, Leah Lyons, Laura Feely and Lauren Delany meant that for the first time a player, who is representing her country tonight, has spoken out against management, with the full support of her squad.
There is definitely a lot to play for in tonight’s game, the first of the November matches which will be kicking off at 7.15pm.
Moloney herself is on the starting team with Anna Caplice also back at number 8 following an unexplained absence from the World Cup Qualifiers.Laura Sheehan is also back on the wing, with Leah Lyons and Alisa Hughes also joining the starting team for the first time since 2019.
Six uncapped players are in the squad, Shannon Touhey, Alana McInerny, Ella Roberts, Mary Healy, Grace Brown Moran and Maeve Og O’Leary.
A debut performance is expected from 21 year old O’Leary, who is the newest member to the fifteen’s setup following her significant performance for Munster at the Interpros.
The masters student, who won Blackrock RFC’s Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year last season, is expected to come on as a replacement in the number seven jersey.
☘️☘️☘️— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) November 12, 2021
Good luck to @irishrugby against the USA tonight at the RDS (7.15pm, live on RTÉ Player).
A special mention to @BallinaKillalo1’s Maeve Óg O'Leary, who could make her international debut 🙌 🙌 🙌#ShoulderToShoulder #NothingLikeItpic.twitter.com/xXckv7upo8
It’s captain Griffin’s 40th cap for the team, just days after she announced her disappointment in Eddy’s comments and “full support” for Moloney.
She also announced that Eddy apologised to the team “in case people took offence” to his reasoning behind the teams loss against Scotland.
The last time Ireland played the USA was back in November 2018, where they won 19-10. A win is expected again tonight as the USA come off the back of two losses against Canada.
Tonight’s game and the upcoming fixture against Japan also mark the last two matches for Adam Griggs, who is being succeeded by Greg McWilliams in the coming weeks.
The move is just one of the many changes expected as a review within the IRFU is ongoing into the team’s failure to date.
The current controversy makes for an interesting atmosphere in the camp especially given that tonight will be the team’s first performance since the World Cup Qualifiers disappointment against Scotland.
Former Irish International Player tweeted that “The silence from the IRFU grows more defeaning as more players voice their thoughts – It won’t be silent in the RDS”.