Griggs: Italy clash will be ‘perfect dress rehearsal’ for World Cup qualifying tournament
While third place in a revamped Six Nations Championship will be up for grabs, the Ireland women’s rugby side have an added incentive to get one over on Italy at Energia Park in Dublin on Saturday (12.0).
In addition to seeking a positive end to the Championship, both teams will be aiming to lay down a marker ahead of their planned reunion in a World Cup qualifying tournament later in the year.
With his native New Zealand set to host the 2022 finals, Ireland head coach Adam Griggs admits this subplot will add considerable spice to the weekend’s game.
“We know they’re going to be part of the opposition that will try to stop us making a World Cup. Probably over the last year we’ve spoken about the bigger picture and the destination we’re trying to get to,” Griggs remarked.
“We looked at their side over the last two weeks, they’ve got a lot of core combinations that have been there for a long time. This will be a perfect dress rehearsal, I suppose, come the autumn.”
Originally set to take place at Parma’s Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Saturday’s game will now be held in Donnybrook. Given Ireland’s amateur stars, some of whom work on the frontline, would have to enter into quarantine on their return from Italy, an agreement was reached between the IRFU and the Italian federation to switch the venue.
When the sides last met in the Irish capital, the hosts came away with a 21-7 victory. That was the first competitive fixture in eight months for both teams and although Italy began this Championship with a 67-3 reversal to England, Griggs anticipates a tougher encounter on this occasion.
“I watched them play England and then I’ve seen them play Scotland on the weekend, they’re a much-improved side from October,” Griggs said.