By Brendan Cole
The Ireland women’s rugby team will face Wales, England and Scotland on the first three weekends of this year’s Womens’ 6 Nations, it has been announced.
The team will then have a weekend off before facing France and then Italy in the final two matches.
Ireland’s opening match against the Welsh will be played at Talbot Athletic Ground in Aberavon in South Wales.
The visit of England, who completed a 3-0 series victory over New Zealand this winter and have won the Grand Slam in six of the last seven years, follows.
That clash will take place at Ashbourne RFC on Saturday, 9 February with a 1pm kick-off.
Ireland will then play Scotland in Lasswade before a gap weekend.
The visit of France to Ashbourne will take place on Friday, 8 March, with a 7.30pm kick-off and the campaign will finish with a trip to Milan to take on Italy on St Patrick’s Day (Sunday, 17 March).
An Ireland Women's XV will also play Spain in the run-up to Championship.
That match will take place at Ashbourne on Sunday, 20 January.
Ireland were narrowly beaten by France in Paris and also lost 23-6 to England in last year's Championship, but the team completed comprehensive wins over the other three nations and finished third on the table.