The Mixed Ability Rugby Invitational (MARIs) are going to play their first ever women's rugby game in Pamplona, Spain this September. This will be the MARIs seventh Men's fixture and their first women's since its formation in 2021.
It will be their second tour to Europe for a team that is rapidly growing in popularity with players travelling from as far as Canada, Argentina and Ireland.
Club President Gwilym Lewis stated, "The MARIs is another opportunity to give these players the chance to represent their club and country playing the sport they love while also establishing new friendships around the world, The MARIs is a family and we look forward to welcoming the new members when we touch down in Spain!"
Congratulations to Port Talbot Panthers own Emily Jenkins in being selected for the MARIS (Mixed Ability Rugby Invitational Select) in their first ever women's game in Spain. An amazing achievement and we are all very proud of you.#ptpanthers#rugby4everyone pic.twitter.com/BN22LhqTIp
— Port Talbot Panthers RFC (@PTPANTHERSS) July 22, 2023
Following the success of IMART 2022 in Cork, Mixed Ability Rugby has continued to grow around the country with a large proportion of men's teams and women's teams doubling in numbers.
Ireland have five players selected across two Cork based clubs and the team will be led by Maeve Darcy from Nenagh, Tipperary as the Head Coach for this milestone fixture.
Maeve Darcy, former UL Bohemians and Munster player, said, "It’s fantastic that the MARIs have their first women's selection so soon. The first men’s game was in 2021 so to think that within two years the women are now alongside them is amazing. 4 women's teams competed at the last Mixed Ability World Cup in 2022, and now we have 11 clubs represented on this first MARIs selection. Credit must be given to the MARIs committee for creating this opportunity for female players, as soon as the teams and clubs were there. It is growing so fast it’s just amazing to see organisations like the MARIs and IMART encouraging women's sport on an international level. This will help to grow the game at grassroots even more."
A huge thank you to Hesselse Herten for being such incredible hosts for today's game.
What a fantastic exhibition of mixed ability rugby both teams played!
MARIs 22-19 Hesselse Herten #AbleIncludedSelected pic.twitter.com/4M3U29Bbq6
— MARI's Rugby (@MARInvitational) April 1, 2023
When selected, MARI players receive a number to represent their selection. The first player selected is #001. All the female players will be included in the same numbering process as the men. This group of 50 players will all be listed as MARIs together and be in the same list as every MARIs that preceded them. The players selected are Ciara Aherne, Fin Faye and Marie Healy of the Ballincollig Trailblazers, and Noreen Cupps and Fiona Riney of the West Cork Jesters.
Healy from the Trailblazers when asked about her selection answered "For me being selected to play for the MARIs is a massive achievement, having previously had the honour of Captaining my team at the first ever IMART Women's World Cup. To play with such talented and lovely people will be amazing and I can't wait. Bring on SPAIN!"
MARIs Spain Tour 2023 Women’s Squad
Alessia Facchin - Padova (ITA)
Azahara de la Poza - URA Clan (SPA)
Cecilia Petelín Valero - URA Clan (SPA)
Cerian Thomas - Dragons All-Stars (WAL)
Ciara Ahern - Ballincollig Trailblazers (IRE)
Eline Claes - Rugbyclub Hasselt (BEL)
Ella Sky - Yeovil Rugby Club (ENG)
Emily Jenkins - Port Talbot Panthers (WAL)
Fiona Riney - West Cork Jesters (IRE)
Fionnuala Fay - Ballincollig Trailblazers (IRE)
Giulia Ponzio - Chivasso Rugby (ITA)
Hannah Stephens - Bath Ladies Trojans (ENG)
Heather Nicholls - Dragons All-Stars (WAL)
Inge Geuskens - Rugbyclub Hasselt (BEL)
Joanna Gatford - Worcester RFC (ENG)
Karen Burgess - Dragon All-Stars (WAL)
Katie Burridge - Yeovil Rugby Club (ENG)
Marie Healy - Ballincollig Trailblazers (IRE)
Nazaret López Vargas - URA Clan (SPA)
Noreen Cupps - West Cork Jesters (IRE)
Paqui Moreno Hoces - URA Clan (SPA)
Sabrina Lincetto - Padova (ITA)
Sarah Nicholls - Worcester RFC (ENG)
Stefania Bianco - Chivasso Rugby (ITA)
Tia Parker - Bath Ladies Trojans (ENG)