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John heaps praise on U20s and Women

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 09.44.34WRU HEAD of Performance Geraint John has congratulated the Wales Under 20 and Wales Women coaches and players on their wins to date and believes there’s a lot more to come from both sides.

Jason Strange’s Wales Under 20 side are sitting on top of the Under 20 Six Nations table after beating Ireland, Scotland and now France after their 16-10 win in Colwyn Bay on Saturday evening, while Rhys Edwards’ Wales Women qualified for next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup by beating France on Sunday, for the first time in eight years.

John believes the Wales Under 20 success so far is down to hard work, preparation and good performances from the whole squad and coaches, along with excellent team spirit and togetherness, while Wales Women have worked hard to put right their opening round defeat to Ireland with wins over Scotland and now France who are in the top three in the world.

John said: “The Wales Under 20 performances so far have been outstanding and demonstrate the depth of the squad. There are some really young players including the likes of Keelan (Giles), George Gasson and Rhun Williams, and Billy (McBryde) took his opportunity on Saturday too.

“There are three Regional players who could come back in for the England or Italy game too with Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Jarrod Evans (Blues) and Dan Jones (Scarlets) all having missed the France game, while Adam Beard (Ospreys) missed the Scotland game so the situation is looking good for the World Rugby U20 Championship in June.

“Jason Strange brought performance coach Rich Neil into the management team at the start of the campaign, specifically to work on team ethos and creating a positive environment and that has certainly shown in the last three games, particularly in coming back from behind against Ireland and Scotland but also in having the self-belief to beat France.

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“After the Six Nations, it would be good to see some of these players given more opportunity in Premiership and Regional sides. Certainly at Premiership level, I think the boys have shown in this campaign what they are capable of. They are our future and hopefully some will get Regional contracts and push for places in the 2019 or certainly the 2023 Rugby World Cup squads. There is no relegation from the Premiership this season and hopefully the teams and coaches can support the players and programme and give some of the players additional game time between the Six Nations and June which can only be beneficial for the game, and the players themselves.”

John called on Welsh fans to show their support at Ashton Gate a week on Friday

“England will be smarting after losing to Ireland, and Scotland on the opening weekend, but with the match in Bristol, it’s a fantastic opportunity for South Wales supporters, and those based in the south west of England.”

“Wales Women have put in a huge amount of hard work to make improvements in key areas since the start of the Championship under their new coaching team led by Head Coach Rhys Edwards,” added John.

“They prepared well in training camps and played well against Ireland in the warm-up game but Ireland dominated in Dublin. Since then, the players and coaches have put in a huge amount of time and effort to improve their core skills and decisionmaking and Sunday’s win and with it, qualification for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup is just reward. Personally I am very grateful for their time and commitment, many if not all are making huge sacrifices to juggle their life and work to train and play.

“There are two remaining games in the tournament to look forward to and, like the 20s, the women have developed a wider group of players within the squad which bodes well for next year’s global tournament in Ireland. They will be looking to keep making further progress in order to be as competitive as possible when that comes around.”

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