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Ireland begin their quest for a World Cup spot against Spain on Monday evening at 5 pm at the Stade Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy.
The sides will face-off against each other for the first time in 13 years when they played each other in the 2008 European Championship – Ireland beat Spain 41-7 on that occasion in Amsterdam.
The two teams will compete with hosts Italy and Scotland at the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier, with the team in the top spot after the final round earning the place in New Zealand.
Ireland are the favourites to progress from the qualifier and join England, Scotland and Wales as the fourth European side at the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Spain qualified for the qualifier after winning the 2019-20 Women’s Rugby Europe Championship.
Two strong wins over the Netherlands and Russia hint at a side capable of playing with the big teams and an upset could be on the cards this evening if Adam Griggs’ side are not careful.
Ireland have included two uncapped players in the side that will begin the quest for a World Cup spot on Monday evening, including Ireland Sevens captain Lucy Mulhall, who starts at outside centre.
Meanwhile, Spain boss José Antonio Barrio has made four changes to his team, compared to their lineup when they defeated the Netherlands 87-0 as they were crowned Rugby Europe champions back in February.
Commenting ahead of the game, the Ireland Head Coach said: “We have been building towards this tournament for a number of months now, and the players have put in a huge volume of work to get to this point. The 23 selected have the honour of representing the wider group as we set out to achieve our goal of Rugby World Cup Qualification.
“Spain first up will provide a stern test and the group are fully focused on starting our campaign on the front foot. We are confident the combinations and cohesion built up through the Women’s Six Nations will stand us in good stead for the challenges ahead, and we’re now excited to get up and running on Monday evening.”
SPAIN WOMEN: Iera Echebarria (Eibar RT); Bea Dominguez (Sanse Scrum RC), Amaia Erbina (Jugadora FER), Amalia Argudo (Stade Toulousain), Maria Garcia (CR Majadahonda); Anne Fernandez de Corres (Eibar RT), Patricia Garcia (Exeter Chiefs); Saioa Jaurena (AS Bayonnaise), Marga Rodriguez (Universitario de Sevilla CR), Laura Delgado (Exeter Chiefs) (capt); Anna Puig (UE Santboiana), Monica Castelo (CRAT A Coruna); Olivia Fresneda (CR Cisneros), Maria Calvo (CR Cisneros), Lourdes Alameda (Sanse Scrum RC).
Replacements: Isabel Rico (Olimpico de Pozuelo CR), Cristina Blanco (Olimpico de Pozuelo CR), Maika Brust (AS Bayonnaise), Carmen Castellucci (AC Bobigny 93), Carmen Rodera (CR Majadahonda), Lucia Diaz (CR Majadahonda), Lea Ducher (Universitario de Sevilla CR), Eva Aguirre (CR Majadahonda).
IRELAND WOMEN: Eimear Considine (UL Bohemians/Munster); Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Railway Union/Munster), Lucy Mulhall (Rathdrum/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Ballinasloe/Blackrock College/Connacht); Stacey Flood (Railway Union/Leinster), Kathryn Dane (Old Belvedere/Ulster); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Linda Djougang (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Aoife McDermott (Railway Union/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Blackrock College/Connacht), Dorothy Wall (Blackrock College/Munster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt), Brittany Hogan (DCU/Old Belvedere/Ulster).
Replacements: Neve Jones (Malone/Ulster), Laura Feely (Blackrock College/Connacht), Leah Lyons (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby), Sam Monaghan (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Edel McMahon (Wasps/IQ Rugby), Emily Lane (Blackrock College/Munster), Enya Breen (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks/IQ Rugby).
Referee: Nikki O’Donnell (England)
Assistant Referees: Hollie Davidson (Scotland), Clara Munarini (Italy)
TMO: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Where To Watch
You can watch Ireland’s opening game of the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier on the Rugby World Cup site, Rugby World Cup Facebook and Twitter channels and on World Rugby’s YouTube channel.
There will also be coverage throughout on the Irish Rugby social media channels.