Former Ireland international Alison Miller says the launch of the nation's first women's U-20s outfit will prevent players from slipping away from the sport as they prepare to make the jump to senior level.
While England and France, the two teams now utterly dominant in the Women's Six Nations, boast women's U-20 squads, Ireland has in the past not produced a team at this grade.
Strictly speaking, this new team will not be called 'Ireland' here as it is not affiliated to the IRFU. Rather, it is an initiative of Rugby Academy Ireland, a Kildare-based private academy of aspiring professionals.
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Club players will attend one training session per month with the aim of playing a challenge match against an overseas club at the end of the year.
Players will be asked to contribute €150 each for training costs and gear but the academy are hoping to secure a team sponsor.
The team will be coached by former Ireland prop Fiona Hayes, with Miller serving as backs coach and another ex-international Jenny Murphy as skills coach.
Speaking to Game On on 2fm, Miller says the idea is to bridge a gap in the market and help players' development at a time when they are in danger of being lost to the system.
"Our programme is not in opposition to the IRFU. We just see a gap there that needs to be filled," Miller said.
"We find in Ireland in youth sport that there's loads of support there. But the support dies off when you want to push on to senior level. So, we're trying to bridge that gap and create a seamless transition from U18 to seniors.
"More girls are playing now in Ireland. Back 10-15 years ago, those clubs aren't there. You look at it, they're playing for clubs, maybe inter-provincial level and then they get to U18 and maybe they're not good enough yet to skip onto senior level.
"We would hope that some of our girls will go on to represent Ireland at senior level. We're trying to make Irish rugby better."
Listen to the full interview below:
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