Ireland will be looking for their second win of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations as they take on Scotland at home this Saturday.
The match, which will take place in Kingspan Stadium in Belfast at 8 o’clock, will mark the final game of the championship, following on from the Grand Slam decider between England and France that afternoon.
Scotland are currently last on the table having lost all of their matches so far whereas Greg McWilliams side sit at fourth, after their home win against Italy.
There’s a lot of factors that will come into play for the match, according to former Irish international Hannah Tyrrell, “Scotland are going to be wounded animals. They don’t want to be the only team to not win a game, they’ll be looking for a huge victory here just to boost their moral before heading to the world cup” said Tyrrell on the Her Sport Six Nations Show.
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We “absolutely” have the ability to beat Scotland according to Tyrrell, especially after the impressive first half performance against top of the table England last Sunday, however “it will be difficult and it’s really going to test Ireland”.
“It’s a very tight turnaround and we seem to have lost a couple of players through injury… I think it’s going to be their biggest test to date” said Tyrrell.
Ireland’s side to face Scotland has three changes from the team that faced England with Sam Monaghan returning from injury. Uncapped Vicky Irwin will start at full back with Scuffil-McCabe moving into the number 11 jersey.
Another big change to the team is the loss of Nicole Cronin who has been ruled out through injury, leaving Nikki Caughey to start at number 10.
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“The Wales game, we had our full squad and it didn’t happen for us. The Italy game we had our full squad and it did, we put in a performance, but this will be a challenge because we will not have anything near our full strength squad” said Tyrell.
“It will really test our depth but I do think we have enough quality in that squad to beat a Scotland side who haven’t really set the world alight this campaign”.
Sene Naoupu will return to the centre after having her red card rescinded after the game against England, a decision that was “lucky” for the Irish side according to Tyrrell.
“No malice, no ill intent, no desire to go out there and hurt another player but she was high, she does make contact with Scarrett, its dangerous…we need to get that tackle technique lower and we need to start bending from the hips”.
The pack for the game on Saturday remains as it were, with Monaghan’s return a bonus. Scrum half Alisa Hughes is on the bench and expected to make her first appearance of the championship.
The game marks the final round of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, a championship which has started international dialogue about the professionalism regarding women’s rugby.
England became the first in the world to go fully professional in January 2019, a move soon followed by France, Wales and most recently Italy.
Scotland have a “player agreement” set up with players and just this week it was announced that the IRFU are set to bring in contracts, but there is no announcement as to when this might happen.
“The decision for this will be made once the Head of Women’s Performance and Pathways is appointed. This is a priority for the IRFU but no timelines are in place yet,” a spokesperson from the IRFU told Her Sport.
The move is a welcomed one for Irish women’s rugby and something that “can’t be rushed” according to rugby journalist Stella Mills, speaking on the Her Sport Six Nations Show,
“I think it’s one of the few things that the IRFU have got right”, said Mills.
“You need to consider the length of the contract, what it’s going to be for the players, whether it’s going to be semi-pro or professional, because these women’s have careers. You are asking them to give up a career and move into another career. It’s no longer going to be a hobby. It’s a big big step…some honest conversations need to happen between the IRFU and the players”.
For more on professionalism, Ireland's final game against Scotland and the Grand Slam decider this weekend, catch up on the Her Sport Six Nations Show, brought to you by OPEL, the exclusive car partner to the IRFU.
The Her Sport Six Nations Show is brought to you by Opel. Follow all the 2022 Six Nations action throughout the Championships with expert analysis, previews, interviews and a lot of laughs! Opel are the exclusive car partner of the IRFU.