Wales Women head coach Rowland Phillips is looking forward to seeing the continued development of Welsh women’s talent at the Women’s Regional Super 12s on Saturday (Llandovery RFC).
Six teams – two teams from the Cardiff Blues region – Blues A and B – along with teams from the Dragons, Ospreys, RGC and Scarlets, will all play each other in a day-long series of 12-a-side matches at Church Bank following a five week conditioning and skills block and ahead of three rounds of full matches.
Phillips said, “The regional programme was hugely beneficial to us as a national programme last season, both in terms of unearthing and developing younger players and in getting seasoned internationals in the best possible shape ahead of the international season. Our performances in the autumn series certainly reflected that and players like Lauren Smyth and Manon Johnes are perfect examples of the programme. Having come through the U18 regional programme, they were involved with Wales Women Emerging and then last season’s senior women’s programme, which propelled them into international rugby where they excelled for Wales throughout the season.
“We will again select our autumn squad from the regional programme and I expect other players to put their hands up for international selection throughout August.
“This season, in conjunction with the regional teams, we put in place a shorter, more intense pre-season programme in order to respect the club season which starts in September. There has been a focus on fitness and skills so there is nothing better than reduced numbers to display the benefits of that. The increased space from playing shorter, 12-a-side games on Saturday will produce longer periods of high intensity rugby which is what we are looking for in the senior women’s game.
“Registration for the regional programme was through the roof this year and all the regional squads have worked hard on conditioning and skills throughout the past month or so. The development programme has worked well for the Dragons where there’s a lot of young talent coming through. They are in action this weekend and this season’s programme will help put them in a stronger position within the performance programme next season whereas in other regions, the younger players are balanced with more experienced regional and international players which will be necessary when it comes to the three rounds of regional 15-a-side matches.”
Phillips believes the success of the Female Hubs for girls aged 6 to 18 means the future is bright for women’s rugby in Wales.
“I’ve been to a number of Hub festivals this summer and been buoyed by the quality of rugby on show and the enthusiasm for the game in the Hub environment. I’ve certainly seen some future internationals in action.”