When talking about the Six Nations Championship, most thoughts turn to the men’s tournament. Given its prominence in the media that is understandable but it may shock some people to discover that there are three iterations of the Six Nations taking place this spring, as well as the Club XV International Series between Ireland and Scotland. Across all of these many tournaments, Trinity have their strongest showing in years. 11 Trinity players have been drafted into these various sides with many due to start playing for their country this weekend.
First up is tomorrow’s under-20s clash with Scotland. Last week, six Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) players were named in the under-20s squad and many of them have played their way into the matchday squad. Thomas Clarkson is the only one to making the starting 15, retaining his place in the front row from last year, when he started every game. Now vice-captain and a staple of the under-20s squad, Clarkson is set to have an impressive campaign and bring much needed experience to the pack. He is joined by three of his DUFC teammates, Luis Faria, Joe McCarthy and Alex Soroka, who are among the replacements. They will all be hoping to get some game time this weekend and claim a starting spot for the upcoming Wales match. Max O’Reilly and Anthony Ryan will also have their sights set on a place in the matchday 23, as they train with the rest of the 37-man squad.
Turning now to the Women’s Six Nations Championship, Linda Djougang and Kathryn Dane have both made the starting 15 for this weekend’s Championship opener against Scotland. Both players featured in all of Ireland’s Six Nations matches last year, with Dane in particular starting the final three. As a squad, they will be aiming to improve on last year’s performances which saw them secure only one victory, a 22-5 win over Scotland. Djougang, in particular, has been in fine form for Leinster this season, having racked up a couple of tries already, including one memorable try during their historic visit to Twickenham to play Harlequins.
Third in this quartet of Scotland matches is the Ireland Club XV’s upcoming clash with the Scottish Club XV. Made up of the best All-Ireland League (AIL) players out there, the Club XVs play an exciting brand of rugby that tends to result in high-scoring games. The Club XV will take on their Scottish counterparts twice this year, endeavouring to follow last year’s series victory with another one in 2020. DUFC captain Colm Hogan is starting on the wing this weekend with Jack Ringrose, brother of Ireland centre Garry Ringrose, covering the other wing. Max Kearney is in the larger Club squad and will likely be hoping to make the team for the return fixture in Dublin.
Lastly, Ryan Baird was named as one of the Development players in Andy Farrell’s first squad as head coach of the Ireland Men’s team. Baird was exemplary last season for DUFC, aiding them in their journey to the AIL play-offs. This year, he has spent most of his time with Leinster playing three matches, including an Interprovincial clash with Connacht with Leinster running out 54-7 victors. Speaking to Trinity News, Baird thinks he can learn a lot over the course of the tournament. “It’s a huge honour to be selected as a development player for the camp in Portugal,” he said. “It has been a great experience so far, seeing how everything is done at the top level and being able to pick the brains of some great players and coaches is invaluable.”