WALES Women captain Carys Phillips believes her side are in the best shape yet to face their Six Nations challenges
“This year’s build-up feels different following a new regional training and playing programme leading into a successful autumn series,” said the 42-times capped front row forward.
“Following that and a Six Nations preparation period including a useful warm-up game against Ireland, I believe we will more competitive than you’ve seen in recent years.
“We have a lot of youngsters in our side. Our backrow has an average age of 19 and they aren’t daunted by the challenges facing them, they just see them as any other game.
“We have France and Italy first up as back to back away games which is a new experience for us. It’s a cliché but we really are just focussing on France to start with ad taking each game one by one. They are an excellent outfit as current champions, and we are expecting a huge crowd in Montpellier. It was a similar scenario two years’ ago in France – it will be a tough challenge away from home but you couldn’t ask for a better experience to kick off the tournament.
“You have to concentrate on playing rugby but you also have to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy it.
“France are a physical side that also like to kick the ball and play a wide game but we’re in a confident place and it’s games like this we need to make further progress as a team.”
Wales’ home games will once again be played at Cardiff Arms Park.
“We are really looking forward to coming back to the Arms Park for Round Three and a huge clash against England.
“Cardiff Arms Park is an excellent place to play, the crowd really got behind us in the autumn which means so much to us as a team.”
Tickets for Wales Women v England (Sunday, Feb 24, 12.30pm) and Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm) are on sale now from Cardiff Blues box office online and to personal callers.
On a more disappointing note, Wales Women No 8 Sioned Harries suffered an ankle injury in the side’s Six Nations warm-up against Ireland and after further assessment will undergo an operation ruling her out of the forthcoming tournament.
Head coach Rowland Phillips is not currently planning to replace Harries in the Six Nations squad. He said: “It is obviously a disappointing blow for Sioned and for us as a squad. However, we are a tight knit group with a fair amount of strength in depth, especially in the second and back row. In particular we have a number of very young players who are set to gain a huge amount of international experience and exposure throughout this tournament.”
Bethan Davies and Gwenllian Pyrs were recently involved in a road traffic incident and are recovering from the effects of that before returning to rugby training.
Wales v Scotland postponed
WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.
The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.
A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.
“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.
“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.
“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”
Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended
THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.
The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.
The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.
Exercise Referral Scheme doing more for health intervention than ever before
A record 35,069 participants attended Exercise Referral classes during 2640 hours of health classes in 2019.
The National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) is an evidence-based health intervention scheme which incorporates physical activity and behavioural change techniques to support referred clients to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being.
NERS Ceredigion has seen a dramatic increase in demand over the past year. A coordinator and four full time exercise professionals work to deliver the scheme, delivering 73 classes per week. The age of participants range from 16 years old, with the eldest participant in Ceredigion being 95.
Exercise class options include Gym, Circuit, Postural Stability (seated), Spin Bikes, Aqua Aerobics, Tai Chi and Pilates. Venues include council and community centres in Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, Lampeter, Tregaron, Cardigan and Llandysul.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure, highlighted the benefits of the scheme, “There are many physical, psychological and social benefits to being part of the scheme, including confidence-building, better self-esteem, meeting new people and being generally fitter and healthier. Ceredigion Actif’s highly qualified Health Intervention Team provide opportunities to exercise that are fun, rewarding and that can be incorporated into everyday life.”
NERS Ceredigion targets people with a medical condition through various pathways including generic, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary, PSI falls, stroke rehabilitation, mental health, cancer and weight management. The 16 week tailored programme of exercise is delivered by a team of specialist Level 4 qualified exercise professionals who guide referred participants towards realising their individual goals.
A participant in Aberystwyth said, “This has been the best thing I have ever done. I have thrived from doing different activities and pushing myself out of my comfort zone which has not only helped my self-esteem but also my depression and everything else including my pain. I have also made new friends which I didn’t even consider would happen and we’re not only being social but we’re having fun too which is a bonus”.
There is ongoing monitoring from the instructors with follow up assessments at 16 weeks as well as on completion at 52 weeks. Long-term ‘maintenance’ options are available post 16 weeks which include the continuation of exercise classes as well as opportunities to join clubs such as walking basketball, walking football, golf sessions and walking rugby.
During 2018-2019 there were 913 referrals to the scheme. To gain access to the scheme, a person needs to be referred by a Health Professional, usually a GP, Practice Nurse or a condition specific Physiotherapist.
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