Wales Women complete five-match autumn series line-up with Test against Ireland in Dublin; historic match against first Crawshay’s Women will take place at Eugene Cross Park on Saturday 23 November; Madrid confirmed as venue for opening series match on November 3 and skill development centres launched around Wales for secondary school aged girls to raise standards and meet increased demand.
After kicking off the autumn series against Spain in Madrid on Sunday 3 November, Wales will now play Ireland at The Bowl, UCD on Sunday 10 November before travelling to Scotstoun to play Scotland on Sunday 17 November.
Ebbw Vale has been chosen as the venue to host the first Crawshay’s Women’s match – former Wales Women captains Liza Burgess and Rachel Taylor coaching the team against Wales on Saturday 23 November before Rowland Phillips’ side completes the series in a historic double-header against the men and women’s Barbarians’ sides, at Principality Stadium on Saturday 30 November.
Rowland Phillips is pleased to complete the line-up with such a familiar opponent. “Ireland are always a talented squad, and will especially want to prove point after our final Six Nations game last season.
“We seem to play Ireland more than any other team and they are certainly a side we measure ourselves against. They have been slightly ahead of us over the last few years and although our result (24-5) and performance against them in the last round of the Six Nations was very pleasing for us, scoring four tries and finishing the tournament on a high, the game wasn’t as one-sided as you would think, they put a lot of pressure on us and created a number of opportunities.”
“We are looking forward to kicking off the series against Spain, who are developing as a nation and playing Scotland who will be on a high after their tour to South Africa.
“It’s great to see the Crawshay’s game will be played in Ebbw Vale. Girls’ rugby is on the up around Wales and the Blaenau Gwent area is a particular hot bed with the Jesters Hub and girls showing huge interest in playing rugby in schools and colleges. Hopefully, by hosting the game at Eugene Cross Park we will engage even more supporters in what we are trying to do in growing the game.”
Will Thomas, Crawshay’s Rugby General Manager commented, “Crawshay’s Rugby Club are delighted to be playing their historic first ever women’s rugby match at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale. We played our first ever home men’s international match last November against Hong Kong at Neath so it’s nice to be able to hold this fixture in a different region. Ebbw Vale RFC Chariman, Jonathan Jones, has been hugely accommodating and we’ve heard a lot about the great work of the Jesters, the Blaenau Gwent Female Hub so we are planning on engaging with them and the rest of the rugby community around this historic fixture. This is a really exciting fixture for us and we hope that the wider rugby public will come out and support Wales in their November international homecoming game.”
Crawhay’s Women’s coach Liza Burgess, who hails from Newport, lives in Cwmbran and is a former pupil of St Joseph’s High School added, “As a Gwent girl, I’m thrilled that we are playing our first women’s Crawhay’s match in the Dragons region. We want as many people as possible – men and women of all ages from throughout Blaenau Gwent, the Dragons region and beyond to come along and see what women’s rugby at this level is all about. It’s set to be an exciting match – we are confident of fielding a strong side to challenge Wales as they prepare to take on the Barbarians.”
The WRU has also launched four skills development centres around Wales for year 7 to 13 aged girls of all abilities, including newcomers to the game. Coaches at each centre – USW Sports Park in Trefforest, Llandarcy Academy of Sport, Parc y Scarlets training barn and Par Eirias training barn – will deliver an eight week programme from early October based on core skills, technique and conditioning.
WRU General Manager, Women and Girls, Charlotte Wathan said, “Demand from girls to play rugby is very much on the up and the development centres will provide a new opportunity for girls wherever they live in Wales to get involved with the game or improve as players, whether or not they are already playing formats of rugby within school, club or Female Hub.”