Ireland Women v Wales Women
Saturday 2nd Feb (kick off 7pm)Thomond Park, Limerick
Wales will be keen to build on their impressive autumn performances against both Canada and the USA in Limerick where only a victory will be good enough for coaches John Williams and Tony Robbins.
Having lost Captain Rhian Williams for both the Six Nations and World Cup with a broken fibia, flanker Melissa Berry wears the armband for the first time. Berry, only 20 years of age, hails from Swansea and is currently a student at St. Marys College in Twickenham.
Not only does Berry have the captaincy to contend with, she also finds herself reverting back to her old position of inside centre as the coaches attempt to fill the hole left by injured captain Williams. Kylie Wilson from Bangor is promoted from the replacement bench to take Berry's position on the flank.
Sue Grainger keeps her position in the second row despite the return to fitness of Clare Donovan and Ronnie Owens wins the battle for the No 9 shirt with Kerry Jenkins on the bench and last season's first choice, Cath Walkley, finds herself relegated to the 'A' team.
Louise Rickard and Sue Jones swap places with Rickard, winning her 50th cap, back in her preferred position of outside centre. Naomi Thomas makes her Six Nations debut as a full back having previously starred on the wing, a change which does not worry Director of Rugby Richard Hodges:
" Naomi has impressed in training and deserves her opportunity in the 15 shirt. She represents the future of this team along with the likes of Melissa Berry and Awen Thomas and they must be thrown in now if they are to gain the experience necessary to succeed in the World Cup."
Coach Williams is aware of how important victory is: " We must win on Saturday. Ireland have improved but we target this as a must win game so we are ready for the French in Bridgend on February 15th. We beat the Irish 15-10 last season and they will fancy their chances but if we build on our performances in the autumn we should return victorious."
15 NAOMI THOMAS14 CLAIRE FLOWERS 13 LOUISE RICKARD12 MELISSA BERRY (CAPT) 11 SUE JONES 10 AWEN THOMAS 9 RONNIE OWENS
1 DAWN MASON 2 JAMIE KIFT 3 KATH LENAGHAN 4 SUE GRAINGER 5 LIZA BURGESS 6 KYLIE WILSON 7 PIP MINTO 8 APRIL DENT
Wales 7s Manager Steff Thomas believes Luke Treharne has all the attriubutes to be a top class captain. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie hears his reasons why as the squad prepare for the opening two legs of the new World Series in Dubai and South Africa.
The British & Irish Cup kicks off this weekend with the four Regional Premiership Select XVs flying the flag for Wales. Welsh
Sat 14 Nov: Blues Premiership Select v Nottingham (2.30) & Connacht Eagles v Dragons (2.30)
Sun 15 Nov: Yorkshire Carnegie v Ospreys Premiership Select (1.30) & Scarlets v Bedford Blues (3.00)
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.