Clare’s Edel McMahon made the most of her opportunity to line out for the visiting Barbarians when they made their own bit of history with their first women’s game against Munster in Thomond Park.
Barbarians Women 19 Munster Women 0
Clare’s Edel McMahon celebrates with friends after appearing for Barbarians in their first women’s game
Despite horrific weather in Thomond Park, there were many happy faces among the players who were making a little bit of rugby history as The Barbarians fielded their first ever women’s side since the famous club was formed in 1890 against the best that Munster Rugby could muster.
On the night it was the Baa-Baas, coached by world cup winner Giselle Mather, who triumphed as the famous invitational club ran out easy winners on a 19-09 scoreline.
Barbarians featured players from seven different countries in their 23 women squad including seven Irish players, Fiona Coghlan who captained the side, Tania Rosser, Ailis Egan, Maz Reilly, Jackie Shiels, Nora Stapleton and Edel McMahon.
Both sides worked hard in the first half as they played against the elements of heavy, swirling rain and a strong wind making ball-handling extremely difficult.
The only score of the first half came from a penalty try for Barbarians after their scrum was brought down near the Munster line to leave the half-time score 7-0 to the visitors.
After the break, Munster brought out a complete second team and they started more energetically than their opponents.
It wasn’t until the Barbarians brought on Edel McMahon, Becky Essex Ailis Egan and Nora Stapleton that they got the breakthrough.
Egan made it across the whitewash for a second try that was converted by Christelle LeDuff to make it 14-0. Stapleton contributed to the final score with a good run down the wing before handing off to Georgina Roberts for the third try, which was also converted.
After the game, Barbarian’s try scorer Ailis Egan described the history-making game as a dream come true for women’s rugby. “Even with the conditions, it was just great fun to play.”
Team coach Giselle Mather said, “I’m absolutely buzzing that they stuck with the Barbarian way. I see this now as a springboard for the women’s Barbarians to kick on and hopefully, there will be three or four games a year for the girls in a Barbarians shirt.
“It will become a new little family for women’s rugby as they earn the right to become a Barbarian and you get invited to play.”
Clare’s Edel McMahon was honoured to be selected as the first woman to be selected for the Baa Baa’s traditional spot for an uncapped player. Edel is the goalkeeper for her native Kilmihil in Ladies Gaelic Football. She also plays as a flanker with Galwegians.
Commenting on the unique honour, Barbarians coach Giselle Mather said, “It is a big Barbarian tradition to have an uncapped player on the side and for Edel to be the first one has been amazing for her and she’s been amazing with the squad.”
As part of her initiation, Edel was made to carry around a toy sheep (Baa Baa) to events before and after the game, according to the coach she was mortified.
“It’s part of the Barbarian tradition and Edel’s the first player to do that. This is an opportunity for a talented young rugby player and who knows, it might be a springboard for Edel to become a fully capped international. That’s why we have that slot in the Barbarians to showcase young exciting talent in this arena.”
The Barbarians are planning more women’s matches against club, provincial and international teams and a full schedule of fixtures will be announced later in the year.
Barbarians: Jackie Shiels (Old Belvedere) (Georgina Roberts (Darlington MP Shark) ‘40) ‘40); Tova Derk (Wasps), Vicki Jackson (Wasps) (Amanda Thornborough (Westshore) ‘40), Megan Goddard (Gloucester-Hartpury), Elen Evans (Caernarfon) (Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere) ‘48); Christelle LeDuff (SO Villonguet), Emma Jensen (College Rifles) (Tania Rosser (Blackrock) ‘54); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians) (Tracy Balmer (Worcester) ‘54), Amy Garnett (Saracens) (Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere) ‘40), Claire Cripps (Wasps) (Garnett 67); Marie Riley (Old Belvedere) (Becky Essex (Richmond) ‘48), Lenaige Corson (Stade Rennais); Susie Brown (Richmond) (Edel McMahon (Galwegians) ‘48), Rachel Taylor (Caernarfon), Kelly Russell (Toronto Nomads).
Munster (first-half): Laura O’Mahony; Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Aine Staunton, Christine Arthurs, Symphonia Pua; Valerie Power, Nicole Cronin; Fiona Hayes, Edel Murphy, Gillian Bourke; Nuala O’Connor, Chloe Pearse; Dinah O’Mahony, Siobhan Fleming, Anna Caplice.
Munster (second-half): Linda McNamara; Laura Sheehan, Niamh Kavanagh, Rachel Allen, Tracy Collopy; Ellen Murphy, Helen McDermott; Leah Lyons, Zoe Grattage, Fiona Reidy; Eileen Foley, Roisin Ormond; Clodagh O’Halloran, Siobhan McCarthy, Ciara Griffin.
Referee: Mike Scanlon (IRFU).
The combined Barbarian and Munster women’s teams after their historic clash played in terrible conditions at Thomond Park