Welsh women excited by new challenge

(IRB.COM) Thursday 27 January 2011
 Welsh women excited by new challenge
Sioned Harries helped Wales to ninth place at WRWC 2010 - Photo: rugbymatters.net

Wales may have had a disappointing Women’s Six Nations and Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2010, but new captain Catrin Edwards believes they have the potential to do well in the coming months.

The 30-year-old prop takes over the captaincy from Mellissa Berry, who retired from international rugby after Wales finished ninth at the World Cup last September, in the new regime under coach Kris de Scossa.

It’s a massive shock to be asked to lead your country,” admitted Edwards. “I’m honoured just to be part of the squad but the more I think about it the more I’m getting excited about the challenge ahead.”

Wales managed only a solitary win – over Scotland – to finish with the wooden spoon in last year’s Six Nations and will be missing a number of experienced players due to retirements or sabbaticals from the national side.

However, Edwards, whose side kick off their campaign against five-time defending champions England in Cross Keys on 6 February, believes an injection of youth into the squad can only bode well for the future.

“A lot of sides have lost players after the World Cup, so we are not the only ones in that position,” continued Edwards. “We have got the likes of Lowri Harries, Adi Taviner and Sioned Harries who went to the World Cup as uncapped players. They would have learned a lot from that experience.

“We’ve also got a few players from the Wales Under 20 side which beat England last year and the young ones have impressed me in this season’s regional games, so despite being relatively light on experience, I think as long as we concentrate on our performance we can do well.”

New look for Irish women

Ireland coach Philip Doyle, meanwhile, has also named a new-look squad with 10 uncapped players among the 25 selected for the 2011 Championship, which begins with a trip to Rovigo to face Italy on 6 February.

Fiona Coghlan continues as captain with Ireland looking to build on their best ever Women’s Rugby World Cup standing of seventh and better a third place finish in the Six Nations for the last two seasons.

Two other key players for Ireland will be full back Niamh Briggs, a constant threat whenever she has the ball, and number 8 Joy Neville, one of the stars of the World Cup.

'We recognise the potential of the squad while respecting the challenges ahead, the first of which is to start the Six Nations campaign against Italy away with a good performance,” said Doyle.

“Being the first game of the Championship means we have little knowledge of the opposition so our concentration is to be accurate as possible throughout the game with and without the ball."

Wales Women’s squad: Jenny Davies, Catrin Edwards (Captain), Vicky Owens, Caryl Thomas, Rhian Bowden, Lowri Harries, Amy Lawrence, Shona Powell Hughes, Ashley Rowlands, Rachel Taylor, Sioned Harries, Jamie Kift, Lisa Newton, Alex Stokes, Sian Williams, Amy Day, Laura Prosser, Yasmin Leung, Elinor Snowsill, Awen Thomas, Elen Evans, Kay Rees, Adi Taviner, Caryl James, Charlie Murray, Mared Evans, Kerin Lake, Aimee Young.

Ireland Women's squad: Gillian Bourke, Niamh Briggs, Lynne Cantwell, Fiona Coghlan, Amy Davis, Lauren Day, Ailis Egan, Siobhan Fleming, Laura Guest, Ashling Hutchings, Niamh Kavanagh, Mairead Kelly, Stacey Kennedy, Emer McManamly, Claire Molloy, Larissa Muldoon, Joy Neville, Gill Nolan, Deirdre O'Brien, Heather O'Brien, Geraldine Rea, Marie Louise Reilly, Jackie Shiels, Nora Stapleton, Carol Staunton.