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Whitland women named in Welsh squad

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Alisha Butchers: Powering through to score for the Scarlets (Pic. Riley Sports)

ALISHA BUTCHERS and Sioned Harries were celebrating on Wednesday (Jan 13) after being named in Rhys Edwards’ Wales Women’s squad for the forthcoming Six Nations Championship.

It will be Butchers first time in the set-up after previously representing her country in sevens, and she will be hoping to win her first caps during the tournament which will see Wales kick off against Ireland in Dublin, meet England at the Twickenham Stoop and host Scotland, France and Italy at The Gnoll, in Neath. Rachel Taylor will again lead the Welsh Women’s team into the Six Nations with six uncapped players included among the 28-strong squad. The campaign will also confirm the teams who qualify for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. England, Ireland and France have automatically qualified and the top two of the remaining teams over last season and this, will qualify for the tournament in Dublin in 2017. Wales are currently second in that qualification process, Italy leading the way with three wins and Scotland third without a win.

“We are looking to improve on last year’s campaign and recreate the momentum we built at the start with two wins in a row. We are targeting our home games against Scotland, France and Italy and we’d love to notch our first win on English soil and make it successive victories over the world champions for the first time in our history,” said the Wales Women head coach, Rhys Edwards. “We have a good blend of experience and some talented newcomers and all of the uncapped players have worked hard to get into the squad. Alisha Butchers has progressed from the U18 pathway and played for the Wales Sevens side in Dubai last month. “Bethan Dainton has proved herself to be a consistent try scorer on the sevens circuit and played for Wales in all the European tournaments in 2015 and Rhian Nokes makes the national 15-a-side squad for the first time having been a mainstay of the sevens side in recent seasons. “Cerys Hale has forced her way back into contention after missing out on a cap when she was included in the Rugby World Cup squad in 2014, Cara Hope is a product of the ever improving regional programme and Ospreys skipper Siwan Lillicrap has worked hard for her opportunity with consistently good performances.”

The squad has been pulled together from 13 different clubs with Skewen providing eight players. There are three each from Llandaff North and Pontyclun, two each from Penybanc, Bristol, Caernarfon and Maesteg Celtic and one each from Pencoed Phoenix, Whitland, Richmond, Wasps, Worcester and Blaenau Gwent- Ynysddu. Wales Women kick-off the Six Nations against reigning champions, Ireland, in Dublin. They are also playing the Irish side, who completed the Grand Slam in 2013 for the first time, in a warm-up friendly at Ystrad Mynach on Sunday 24 January.