Energia AIL Preview | Hannah Tyrrell on the new season and format of the AIL

Energia AIL Preview | Hannah Tyrrell on the new season and format of the AIL Energia AIL Preview | Hannah Tyrrell on the new season and format of the AIL
Colleen Mooney

Last February, the 2022 AIL Rugby season ended with Railway Union retaining their title over Blackrock College RFC in a tight game. Irish Rugby international, Hannah Tyrell joins us to co-host our Energia AIL Rugby Show to give us a glimpse on her thoughts of this upcoming season.

With plenty of new players coming up, this season will lead to a huge development in women’s rugby in Ireland. 

So far, this season’s format is straightforward and ends in December. It’s nine rounds for each team in three week blocks and a week's break in between. Acclimating for the semi-finals to get the top four then of course the finals for a winner of the Energia AIL league. 

Tyrrell explains how there will be more contenders for the victor because of all the new players and is excited to see other clubs step it up as well.

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Because there are less fixtures and the season is shorter, players need to maximise their efforts for opportunities to earn points for their club, climb the table and win the championship. Each fixture also provides important opportunities for players to earn a position in the Irish squad for the upcoming international fixtures. This increased competition in the Energia AIL means that there is more competition to get that green jersey. 

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Since last season ended way back in February, it is a very long time to not play rugby, especially for the teams that got knocked out even earlier in the previous season. 

A lot of players are itching to get back on the field, so the clubs are pushing for strength and conditioning during their training to try to minimise injuries. Because the season starts so soon, Tyrrell explains how important it is to not have athletes be injured before their first game. 

Each club is different when it comes to preseason because of coaching strategies and players’ strengths, but Tyrrell states that everyone wants their athletes to be in good shape with running sessions and fitness sessions. It’s important to ease players back into contact as well. Coaches have to take it easy on loading up the girls and doing too much too soon because that will lead to more injuries. 

It’s also pertinent to work on little things and skills such as movement, passing, kicking, and line outs in order to put it all together to make sure the team meshes well before a game. 

At the end of the day though, the girls just want to play matches, so everyone is excited and trying to take each game as it comes. Like O’Connor said in a recent interview, Tyrrell agrees that if the players get too caught up on future games, they will be out of the running before they even get there.

O’Connor said how each team gets one shot at each other, and that there is no room for second chances. Tyrrell states that the opportunity to gain points is an important one to take because once one game is lost, the team is already playing catch-up. That is a lot of pressure to get up to the top four after that. 

Tyrell speaks about the Malone RFC dropout by saying how disappointing it is for all the girls that have been involved. After they got a new head coach and the girls that came back even after finishing in last in the AIL we’re ready to fight and prove themselves once more, it seems that the team was still struggling with numbers.

Tyrrell hopes it’s only for this year and that the team will get players from other sports, or even younger girls to come up and play so that the athletes do not have to relocate to join another team. 

This late withdrawal is very unfortunate, and has a considerable effect on the scheduling of this season. Because it was so last minute, Malone was already out on the schedule to play against Railway. That fixture naturally did not happen, and as so, each team will have an additional rest week during the season.

It started with Railway due to play them last weekend. Instead, Railway has to put their season on hold another week after all the preparation and excitement. It is very unfortunate because everyone wants to play more games, not less, but Tyrrell believes it will just be a one-year break to get more support. 

Tyrrell expresses hope that Malone is doing a lot behind the scenes by getting more people involved for every season. A lot of clubs struggle with numbers, so the athletes have to move away just to keep playing their game. 

It is unsure if the players belonging to Malone will have enough time to relocate in time for this upcoming season. With the time it takes to register and to make sure the pre existing club will have enough room for any new players, Tyrrell is hopeful that the athletes do not give up Rugby completely.

Whether it is joining another club around Ireland, or even a smaller, local club, these girls have worked too long and hard to have no game time this season. 

This season will be very important for players development for international players as well as interprovincial players. For those not quite ready to play internationally, this season is going to be a big stepping stone for athletes to get to showcase their skills for the league to see if they are fit to wear the green jersey. 

You can catch up with this week's episode of Her Sport's AIL Rugby Show on our youtube channel. Tune in every two weeks for exclusive coverage and analysis of the Women's Energia All-Ireland League.

Her Sport's AIL Rugby Show and coverage is brought to you in association with Energia, think of the possibilities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru24GRFBPmo

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