Ireland Women will play Japan in a two-Test series this summer.
Greg McWilliams’ side defeated Italy and Scotland to finish fourth in the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations after starting their campaign with defeats to Wales and France.
An extended Ireland squad will now come together for a series of summer camps at the IRFU High Performance Centre before travelling to Japan in August to face the Sakura Fifteen.
The two teams most recently faced each other during the 2021 November Tests at the RDS in Dublin, with Ireland earning a 15-12 win on that occasion.
Currently ranked 12th in the world, Japan are coming off the back of a historic Test win over Australia and are currently preparing for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October.
“The TikTok Women’s Six Nations was the first staging post on our journey together as a squad and a summer programme, including two Tests against Japan, is an exciting opportunity for us to build on that,” McWilliams said.
“We will come together as an extended squad in July and it will be invaluable for us as a coaching staff to have the chance to work with a number of new players, including those who have impressed in the Energia Women’s All-Ireland League and in the recent U18 Women’s Six Nations Festival.
“The Invitational Series will then give us the opportunity to spend time together as a group, build cohesion, learn and grow and test ourselves against a very strong Japan team in their home conditions. It will be a hugely beneficial development opportunity for us as we work hard to progress as a team.”
McWilliams’ side will open the two-Test series against Japan at Ecopa Stadium in Fukuroi City, Shizuoka on August 20 before facing Lesley McKenzie’s team again a week later on August 27 at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo.
Ireland captain Nichola Fryday added: “We finished the TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign on a high with that memorable win over Scotland in Belfast to secure third place, and it is now exciting for us to turn our attention to an Invitational Series against Japan this summer.
“We are in the process of building under Greg the coaching team and it is important we continue to move forward with contact time together and exposure to Test match situations, which the Invitational Series will provide.
“It will be hugely exciting to lead the group in Japan and we will work hard over the coming weeks and months to continue on an upward trajectory on this journey, heading towards 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations and beyond.”
Ireland Women v Japan, August 2022:
Japan v Ireland, Saturday 20th August, Ecopa Stadium
Japan v Ireland, Saturday 27th August, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium.