2023 TikTok Women's Six Nations: Wales v Ireland preview

·7-min read
Wales and Ireland renew their rivalry at Cardiff Arms Park in Round 1 of the TikTok Women's Six Nations (Inpho)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations kicks off in Cardiff with a resurgent Wales hosting two-time champions Ireland.

Having not qualified for last year’s Rugby World Cup, this will be Ireland’s first international fixture since a two-test series against Japan in August.

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Wales, by contrast, did head down under and exited the tournament at the quarter-final stage after losing to eventual winners New Zealand.

The hosts are a little further along the professionalism path, having introduced full-time contracts on the eve of last year’s Championship, with Ireland following suit in October.

Wales edged this encounter 27-19 in Dublin last year courtesy of late scores from Donna Rose and captain Hannah Jones.


Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham has named a vastly experienced side for Round 1, with centre Hannah Jones continuing as captain.

Among the other familiar names in the side are fly-half Elinor Snowsill, scrum-half Keira Bevan and flankers Alex Callender and Georgia Evans.

There is one potential debutant among the replacements, with Swansea-born and Auckland-raised back rower Kate Williams set to feature for the first time.

A star-studded bench includes hooker Kat Evans, back row Sioned Harries and scrum-half Ffion Lewis.

Ireland, meanwhile, have a much fresher feel to their side with Greg McWilliams fielding a host of stars making their Championship debuts.

Méabh Deely, Aoife Dalton and Natasja Behan all made their first starts during the summer tour to Japan and have been rewarded with a first run at the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

There are two uncapped looseheads in the squad, with 18-year-old prop Sadhbh McGrath selected to start and Niamh O’Dowd primed for her first appearance from the replacements bench.

Nichola Fryday will captain the side from the second row and will be joined by Sam Monaghan, who was included in last year’s Team of the Championship, alongside front rowers Linda Djougang and Neve Jones.


Wales head coach Ioan Cunningham said: “There were some tough calls around this selection and the competition for places is what every coach wants. We are excited to get started and cannot wait to kick off the tournament.

“We know Ireland will pose a formidable challenge but we finished third in last season’s TikTok Six Nations and want to improve on that. As a team, we know we can create opportunities and we just need to finish them off and score more tries.

“We want to back up what we achieved last year but we also feel we should have won three games last season. So we want to build on last year and starting at home is real positive for us.

“We want to start well and to give our supporters something to cheer, inspire the next generation of players and build some real momentum for the rest of the campaign.”

Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams: “The start of a Championship campaign is always an exciting time and we come into this weekend ready to get to task against a strong Welsh side.

“We have had a good block of preparation and this is the start of the next chapter on our journey, which we started as a group in Japan last summer.”

KEY BATTLE – Elinor Snowsill v Nicole Cronin

The fly-half battle will see two of each side’s most experienced stars will go head-to-head.

Robyn Wilkins pushed Snowsill hard for the Wales No.10 jersey last year but the latter emerged as the undisputed first-choice ahead of the World Cup.

The 33-year-old expects her side to be much fitter and stronger this time round and has promised Welsh fans an enjoyable brand of rugby.

In the green corner, Munster’s Nicole Cronin will line up at fly-half for a second year running following a switch from scrum-half.

Cronin led Munster to the Interpros title earlier this year and her goal kicking could prove vital if this one plays out to be as close as many predict.


  • Ireland have won nine of their last 11 TikTok Women’s Six Nations matches against Wales (L2), however Wales won the most recent meeting between the sides in the Championship in 2022 (27-19).

  • Ireland have won four of their last five away games against Wales in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations, including a 45-0 victory in their most recent such match, Ireland’s third biggest win in the Championship and their biggest against Wales.

  • Ireland have lost five of their last six away games in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations (W1), however their solitary victory on the road during that run came against Wales in 2021.

  • Wales have won their opening game of the TikTok Women’s Six Nations in just one of their last four campaigns, however that solitary victory came in their most recent Round 1 fixture, against Ireland last year (27-19).

  • Wales scored 69 points in their TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign in 2022, one more than Ireland and their most in an edition of the Championship since scoring 94 – their most ever – in 2009.


Scrum-half Keira Bevan (11.0 stars) scored Wales’ final try of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations and will want to make her mark having been restored to the starting line up.

Her battle with Ffion Lewis (10.0 stars) for the starting No.9 shirt looks set to rage on for the duration of the spring, so Bevan will want to seize her opportunity with both hands.

With points on offer for defensive excellence, Wales back row Georgia Evans is worth considering at just 10.0 stars.

From an Ireland perspective, hooker Neve Jones (14.0 stars) will be looking to carry her fine form for club side Gloucester-Hartpury into the Championship.

Jones has crossed on five occasions this term for the Allianz Premier 15s side, who sit just a point behind league leaders Exeter Chiefs with a game in hand.

Alongside her in the front row is debutant Sadhbh McGrath, who at just 8.0 stars could be a shrewd investment for the duration of the Championship.


Wales: 15 Courtney Keight, 14 Lisa Neumann, 13 Hannah Jones (c), 12 Kerin Lake, 11 Carys Williams-Morris, 10 Elinor Snowsill, 9 Keira Bevan; 1 Gwenllian Pyrs, 2 Kelsey Jones, 3 Sisilia Tuipulotu, 4 Abbie Fleming, 5 Gwen Crabb, 6 Georgia Evans, 7 Alex Callender, 8 Bethan Lewis

Replacements: 16 Kat Evans, 17 Caryl Thomas, 18 Cerys Hale, 19 Kate Williams, 20 Sioned Harries, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Lleucu George, 23 Hannah Bluck

Ireland: 15. Meabh Deely, 14. Aoife Doyle, 13. Aoife Dalton, 12. Enya Breen, 11. Natasja Behan, 10. Nicole Cronin, 9. Molly Scuffil-McCabe; 1. Sadhbh McGrath, 2. Neve Jones, 3. Linda Djougang, 4. Nichola Fryday (c), 5. Sam Monaghan, 6. Dorothy Wall, 7. Maeve Og O’Leary, 8. Brittany Hogan

Replacements: 16 Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, 17. Niamh O’Dowd, 18. Christy Haney, 19. Jo Brown, 20. Grace Moore, 21. Hannah O’Connor, 22. Dannah O’Brien, 23. Vicky Irwin.