The Ireland Women’s Rugby Six Nations Squad was announced earlier today and the good news is that it features three Ulster based players with the Cooke Women RFC trio of Jemma Jackson, Claire McLaughlin and Ilse van Staden all making the cut. 

After typically hard working performances during the Autumn Series, there is no surprise that McLaughlin has been included once again.  

Speaking of her selection, Claire told the Front Row Union:

Delighted to be involved in the Six Nations squad again, I’m hoping to stay injury free and hopefully get a bit more game time this year!! It’s great to have Jemma and Ilse down at camp too – they’re doing really well. Obviously all the hard work they’ve been putting into training is paying off! Excited to hopefully take to the field with the two of them in the green jersey!

Isle van Staden, Ulster Women's Rugby

Ilse van Staden in action against Leinster

The Front Row Union have been championing the powerful Van Staden for a couple of seasons, particularly after an impressive Interprovincial series. Thankfully, she produced the goods last weekend, putting in a strong performance in the trials match against Wales. The best is yet to come, as she refines her technique.

We caught up with Ilse earlier today:

It’s an enormous honour and privilege to be selected for Ireland. I will try and enjoy the experience and I can only give it my best and control the controllables. Our best is always to come! 

Jemma Jackson, Ulster Womens Rugby

Jemma Jackson in action against Connacht

With regards to Jackson, I’d thought she had missed her chance in recent years. However, the talented out-half made excellent use of her opportunity last week. Delightfully deft touch backed up by a solid defence, nothing fancy, just the right things done well. Simple, and it made me grin from ear to ear – could be the surprise of the Six Nations tournament.

Jemma told us earlier:

I’m really pleased with my inclusion in this years Six Nations squad. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months but I’ll definitely be taking each weekend as it comes!

Women’s Coach Tom Tierney has included five uncapped players in the Six Nations squad. As well as Jackson and Van Staden he has brought in Munster’s Eimear Considine and Leinster’s Ailsa Hughes into the backs and Connacht’s Ciara O’Connor up front.

The squad in full captained, once again, by Niamh Briggs is shown below:

Elaine Anthony (Highfield/Munster) Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Anna Caplice (UL Bohemians/Munster) Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster) *
Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster) Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht)
Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) Aine Donnelly (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster) Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht)
Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster) Ailsa Hughes (Railway Union/Leinster) *
Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht) Jemma Jackson (Cooke/Ulster) *
Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster)
Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster) Claire McLaughlin (Cooke/Ulster)
Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht) Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster) Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster) Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls)
Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht) * Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht)


 * Denotes uncapped Player

Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster)
Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster) *


Ireland Women’s Six Nations Fixtures:

Friday, February 3
Scotland Women v Ireland Women, Broadwood Stadium, Glasgow, 6.35pm (live on RTE)

Sunday, February 12
Italy Women v Ireland Women, Stadio Tommaso Fattori, L’Aquila, 2pm local time/1pm Irish time (live on RTE)

Sunday, February 26
Ireland Women v France Women, Donnybrook Stadium, 12.45pm (live on RTE)

Saturday, March 11
Wales Women v Ireland Women, BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, 11.30am (live on RTE)

Friday, March 17
Ireland Women v England Women, Donnybrook Stadium, 8pm (live on RTE/Sky Sports)