Greg McWilliams to take over as Ireland women’s head coach

Move comes along with the announcement that Adam Griggs will step down

It’s a case of back to the future following the announcement that Greg McWilliams will take over as head coach of the Ireland women’s team following the November Tests against the USA and Japan. The IRFU expedited his appointment after the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) were in contact with a view to McWilliams taking over their women’s national team.

The 43-year-old Dublin native was an assistant coach to Philip Doyle when the Irish women’s team won a Grand Slam (2013) and reached the semi-final of the World Cup (2014). McWilliams will succeed Adam Griggs, the New Zealander having indicated to David Nucifora and Anthony Eddy of his wish to step down following Ireland’s failure to qualify for next season’s World Cup in New Zealand.

In last month’s pre-qualifying tournament in Parma, Ireland were beaten by Spain and Scotland, thereby ending their World Cup aspirations. Griggs took the position ahead of the 2018 Six Nations Championship at a time when the Ireland team were at a low ebb following a poor World Cup in 2017 on home soil.

Griggs will be in charge for the games against the USA and Japan – Dorothy Wall is unavailable following surgery on a hand issue – and will then move into the position of IRFU provincial talent coach for Leinster, focusing on talent ID and player development across both the men’s and women’s games.


McWilliams, who will be able to appoint his own coaching team and is likely to make changes to the previous regime which included Kieran Hallett (defence), Steve McGuinness (forwards) and Rob Sweeney (scrum), brings a wealth of experience from his time coaching in America.

Highly regarded as a person and a coach, he was the director of rugby at Yale University, taking up a coaching role with the USA Eagles in 2017 and he remained with USA through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup. McWilliams’s most recent role was head coach of Major League Rugby (MLR) outfit Rugby United New York before returning to Dublin with his family.

He said: “It’s such an exciting time for women’s sport globally. There is a terrific energy building and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that journey, continuing on from the great work paved by Adam and his staff. I’m most looking forward to meeting the staff at the IRFU High Performance Centre, the players and their families.

“In the meantime, the USA and Japan travel to Dublin in a few weeks. It’s a brilliant challenge for the squad against two quality teams. Think of how powerful two strong performances would be for our players against top opposition. It would be massive for momentum as we begin the next World Cup cycle.”