Trinity’s Linda Djougang and Kathryn Dane have been selected for the Ireland squad set to play rescheduled Six Nations matches against Italy and France this autumn.
Both Djougang and Dane had started in the first three games of the 2020 Six Nations Championship before the tournament was paused due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Djougang, a general nursing student, made her debut for Ireland in the team’s 22-5 victory over Scotland in last year’s 2019 Six Nations Championship.
The tighthead prop will hope to continue her rapid ascent in a sport she only started playing at the age of 17. She scored her first try for Ireland last February, helping to propel her team towards victory over Wales.
Scrum-half Dane also secured her first cap for Ireland in last year’s Six Nations Championship when the former Trinity physiotherapy student was completing her dissertation.
Ireland started well in this year’s tournament, winning their first two games against Scotland and Wales before losing out to favourites England by 27 points in their most recent fixture before the tournament was halted.
In a press statement, Ireland’s Head Coach Adam Griggs said: “We are picking up where we left off over five months ago. At the outset of this year’s tournament we had clear priorities set. Our aim was to win our three home games and play competitively in our two away games and we felt like we were in a good place before the postponement of the tournament.”
Ireland currently lie third in the table, five points ahead of their next opponents Italy in fourth and two points below free-scoring France in second. Italy have a game in hand, however, and the French have hitherto scored twice as many points as Ireland – a sure sign of the scale of the challenges awaiting the Irish players as they look to build on their fifth place finish last year.
Both games will be a good litmus test for the World Cup qualifiers in December, as Djougang, Dane and Ireland look to book a spot in the finals tournament next year.