THE EXPERIMENT of introducing summer rugby for girls has been a resounding success, with female playing numbers in Wales more than doubling after just one season.
More than 2,000 girls regularly trained and played at the 27 new cluster centres for girls set up all over Wales for spring and summer 2016 and, in conjunction with additional playing opportunities at the 80 school club hubs around Wales, the number of women and girls playing the national sport has gone from a total of around 2,000, to more than 4,000 regular participants.
The cluster centres were so successful in creating a vibrant, sustainable environment for girls’ rugby that 15 new teams have already been established to allow girls to continue to play rugby in the traditional rugby season. These will fall into the Under 15, Under 18 and senior structures already in place, while the girls-only clusters will be back next spring for minis and juniors.
WRU National’s Women’s and Girls Manager, Caroline Spanton, said: “The clusters were set up to overcome some of the barriers girls felt were preventing them from enjoying rugby. Playing girls-only rugby in the summer months were key factors, combined with volunteers, parents, hub officers and WRU staff all pulling in the same direction to create a fun environment for girls from under nines to under 15s.
“The clusters were particularly popular for under nines to under 11s, and the figures for teenage girls has bucked the trend of girls dropping out of sport at that age. The clusters adopted a philosophy of stage not age, so if girls want to carry on playing touch or non-contact rugby, they can do so. We have catered for the demand from some new clusters to keep playing in the traditional season by setting up new under 15 and under 18 teams and ensuring they have everything in place to be sustainable.
“Girls clearly want to play rugby and we will keep working hard to ensure opportunities continue to increase for women and girls at all levels around Wales.”
The Arrows Under 18s in Pontypool is one of the new teams recently set up due to a strong desire from the players to carry on playing once the summer, cluster season ended.
Wales international prop Meg York coaches the side. “The vast majority of these players didn’t play rugby before the Arrows cluster centre was set up but enjoyed it so much that the girls begged us to set up an Under 15 and Under 18 side so that they could keep playing. The players are so enthusiastic, they just want to play rugby and since school has started back, they’ve brought their friends with them too, so numbers are increasing every week.
“They are so keen to learn and I certainly have my eyes on a number of players who could go on and play at a higher level. Coming from Pontypool myself, my idols were the Pontypool front row and if these girls see that I’ve achieved my dream of playing for Wales, hopefully they will see that it’s possible for them too; there is certainly no shortage of talent.”
Arrows player Nicole Smith said: “When I saw on Facebook that the Arrows cluster was setting up, I just had to get involved as I played rugby in primary school and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having Meg as a coach makes a huge difference as she gives us confidence and passes on her skills to us. I would love to play for the Dragons and Wales one day.”
Developing women’s and girls’ rugby at all levels is a key priority for the Welsh Rugby Union.
High profile appointments in the 15 and seven-a-side women’s game recently have been an indication of that at an elite level – along with WRU support for Jasmine Joyce and Laurie Harries to train with GB, Jaz Joyce going on to represent Team GB at the Olympics and a commitment to invest in Wales – places in the Women Sevens, with qualification for the Commonwealth Games and the World Sevens Series, are up for grabs.
At grassroots level, the 80 school club hub officers around Wales have hugely increased opportunities for girls to play rugby in school and helped to transfer girls to the clusters.
To find out about opportunities for women and girls to play rugby, email email@example.com.
Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’
EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.
Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.
49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.
In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.
“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.
“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.
“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”
Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.
Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.
Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.
He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.
Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.
The trial is expected to last five days.
Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,
“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”
Wales to take on the best in Nation League test
POLAND manager Czesław Michniewicz has confirmed that all-time record appearance holder and leading goalscorer Robert Lewandowski will start against Cymru in the UEFA Nations League A4 opener later today (5pm).
“We will field our best line-up,” said Michniewicz. “We will try and give everyone who is in good shape a game. We will play four at the back, but we will change the line-up. I can confirm that Robert Lewandowski will start. Kamil Jóźwiak needs to be thoroughly tested and Matty Cash should be ready for the Belgium game.”
The Bayern Munich striker has scored 75 goals in his 129 international appearances, and the 33-year-old team captain will be keen to use this Nations League campaign to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals later this year after his country qualified through the play-offs.
Cymru will be hoping to join Poland in Qatar following Sunday’s play-off final against either Ukraine or Scotland. Meanwhile, Chris Gunter is expected to be tasked with preventing Lewandowski from adding to his goal tally in Wrocław, and the Cymru centurion looked ahead to the challenge when he spoke to the media on Tuesday.
“As a player you turn up and do your job,” said Gunter. “If and when you’re selected to play for your country you feel a real honour to do so. I know we’re not going to have the same team for the next five games but when the whistle blows the preparation and focus will be the same.”
Cymru manager Rob Page spoke to the media yesterday ahead of the opening UEFA Nations League match against Poland in Wrocław this evening (5pm).
Here’s a summary of what Page had to say on a number of different topics –
“It’s risk and reward. The biggest game we’ve got is on Sunday, and that’s no disrespect to Poland. We will show them complete respect, but we would be mad to risk our top, top players. I’ve done a lot of analysis on Poland, they work hard for each other and they do the not so pretty side of the game really well. They’ve got talented individuals that can win a game of football, and we’ve got the same. We respect Poland for what they are, and we will have to be at our best to get a result.”
On Gareth Bale
“He’s in good spirits, as he always is. He was adamant that he was meeting the players in Portugal to fly into Poland with them, so that again speaks volumes about him to be with the group as soon as possible. Credit to him, he’s as humble as ever. He’s met up with the group and he’s first class straight away. As we always do with all the senior players, we have individual plans for them. We will sit down, have a conversation with him, and it’s about getting him in the best physical and mental condition for Wednesday and for Sunday.”
On Aaron Ramsey
“Aaron probably hasn’t played as many games or minutes as he would have liked but he’s trained everyday so he’s in a good place physically. He hasn’t had the match time that he wanted to, but we’ve had a practice game. He’s proved in the past that he can turn up for the big games having not played as many club games and give a performance, so we’re not worried about that.”
On his team selection
“I don’t think there will be many surprises. I think most of the supporters will anticipate what we’re going to do. It will be a common sense approach to a big game on Sunday. There’s no hiding behind that and I’m not going to make any apologies for that whatsoever. We’ve not been in this position since 1958. We know we’re up against strong opposition tomorrow evening, but we will use it as an exercise to give players who need them minutes. But we will play a team that can more than compete.”
Success for Ceredigion school rugby teams at Principality Stadium
RECENTLY some Ceredigion school rugby teams have been competing at a national level at the Road to Principality event held at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff.
There was a great celebration at Ysgol Bro Teifi on Monday, 25 April following the success of their under-14 girls’ rugby team at a. Following victories in a series of games at regional and national level in recent months, the team had the opportunity to play in the national final at the Principality Stadium against Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Denbighshire.
In front of a crowd of some 150 fans who had travelled to Cardiff to see the game, Bro Teifi managed to win 34 points to 19 in a competitive and fast game.
Acting Headteacher, Mr Gareth Evans, “At the start of a new term, it was great to be able to celebrate the success of the girls on the rugby field following a run of games where the team was seen subduing Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Plas Mawr, Bishopston and the Rhymney Valley among others. I would like to congratulate the girls on their huge success and thank the training team of Llyr James, Gemma Potter and Stephanie Gough for their work.”
Popular This Week
crime2 days ago
Man who filmed rape on victim’s phone jailed for 10 years
News4 days ago
Residential care home project approved to increase dementia support
News4 days ago
New Quay RNLI crew member passes out as coxswain
News2 weeks ago
Police and Crime Commissioners meet with Independent Custody Visitors at Aberystwyth
News5 days ago
Public advised to avoid rail travel as biggest strike in 30 years about to start
News2 weeks ago
Local MP Ben Lake shows his support to end violence against women and girls for all women
Farming2 weeks ago
Welsh Cobs return to the farmyard at Llanerchaeron
Education1 week ago
Tropical disease research boosted with ”future leader” joining Aberystwyth University