Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips has named a 35-strong squad for his side’s five matches in November – their biggest autumn series to date. Hooker Carys Phillips will continue to captain the squad which includes 14 uncapped players.
Wales begin the series with three away matches - against Spain, Ireland and Scotland before returning to Wales for the first match against a women’s Crawshay’s team coached by new WRU Council Member Liza Burgess and the first professional female coach in Wales – Rachel Taylor.
That game will take place at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale on Saturday 23 November and Taylor will also be part of the opposition coaching team a week later for Wales Women’s first match against the Barbarians in the Principality Stadium double header.
Phillips said, “Our focus hasn’t changed. We are already qualified for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup and our key aim is to build a squad of young players with significant experience under their belts. This autumn series is a huge opportunity to do that. All players will gain from the experience of travelling away for three testing encounters against Spain, Ireland and Scotland – all of whom still need to qualify for the World Cup. And to be part of two historic encounters in Wales at the end of November against the Crawhshay’s and Barbarians is something we will all look forward to and enjoy.
“We finished the Six Nations on a high with a dramatic win over Scotland and then a pleasing win and performance against Ireland and we want to build on that momentum this season.
“There is excellent quality coming through - that was evident in the regional programme again this summer and some of those players are rewarded with squad places today. We have a responsibility to continue to develop those players, maximise their potential and also manage them well. We will expose them to an international environment and give them game time when ready. The likes of Lauren Smyth, Manon Johnes, Alex Callender and Gwen Crabb all earned their first caps last autumn and have gone on to become key players in the squad. The opportunity is there for others to do the same if they apply themselves.
“We are clear on where we need to develop to become consistently competitive. There’s a better understanding now from players of what is required of an international player in terms of fitness, skill levels, attitude and everything else that goes with being an international rugby player.
“We aren’t looking beyond the first game. Spain are making significant progress and will provide a tough challenge especially on their home turf. We are looking forward to locking horns with our Six Nations adversaries Ireland and Scotland who both have a point to prove and we want to engage as many home fans as possible in our journey and be part of our home matches at Ebbw Vale and Principality Stadium.”
WRU international skills coaches Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman have joined Rowland Phillips and Gareth Wyatt in the Wales Women coaching set-up and will provide specialised input throughout the autumn campaign.
Phillips welcomed the addition of the former Wales international forwards. “Geraint and Chris are excellent coaches. With their wealth of experience working with young international players, they understand the need to adapt styles and management skills accordingly. It’s hugely encouraging for the women’s programme to become a more integrated part of the WRU performance structure. I know I’ve learned a lot from coaching female athletes and Chris and Geraint have already shown they will add value to the programme.”
Wales Women autumn series squad:
Forwards: (5 uncapped*)
Alex Callender, Gwen Crabb, Amy Evans, Georgia Evans*, Abbie Fleming*, Cerys Hale
Sioned Harries, Cara Hope, Jordan Hopkins*, Gwenllian Jenkins*, Natalia John, Manon Johnes, Kelsey Jones, Bethan Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Robyn Lock*, Carys Phillips, Gwenllian Pyrs
Backs: (9 uncapped*)
Keira Bevan, Angharad Desmet* , Alecs Donovan, Lleucu George, Courtney Keight*, Kerin Lake, Caitlin Lewis*, Ffion Lewis, Rebekah O’Loughlin*, Kayleigh Powell*, Paige Randall*, Catherine Richards*, Lauren Smyth, Elinor Snowsill, Niamh Terry* , Megan Webb*, Robyn Wilkins
Wales Women fixtures November 2019:
Spain v Wales Women, Estadio Nacional Computense, Madrid, Sunday 3 November 12.45pm local time
Ireland v Wales Women, The Bowl, UCD, Dublin, Sunday 10 November 1pm
Scotland v Wales Women, Glasgow, Sunday 17 November 3pm
Crawshay’s v Wales Women, Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale Saturday 23 November 2.30pm
Wales Women v Barbarians Saturday 30 November, Principality Stadium 11.45am
Tickets for the Barbarians double-header on sale via wru.wales/tickets