Eight members of the Scarlets Ladies squad have been named in a 21-strong Wales Women’s sevens training squad ahead of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix series which starts next month.
Alex Callender, Alisha Butchers, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Lleucu George, Celyn Lazenby, Ellie Morgan and Caitlin Lewis have been included ahead of the opening tournament in Paris at the end of June.
Wales need to finish in the top eight at the conclusion of the two Rugby Europe tournaments to qualify for the World Series qualifying tournament next April.
The training squad is a true blend of seasoned sevens players and upcoming talent. It includes 13 full internationals including four players – Butchers, Gemma Rowland, Joyce and Hannah Jones – who represented Wales Sevens at last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Gemma Rowland and Dyddgu Hywel return to the international programme after returning to full fitness after injury. Five players – Celyn Lazenby, Ellie Morgan, Megan Webb, Caitlin Lewis and Hannah Powell – impressed during the recent Wales Women Emerging programme and former youth tennis international Rekekah O’Loughlin came through the Cardiff Blues’ regional programme this season.
Wing / centre Courtney Keight was invited to join the squad after a great season with Swansea University and standing out for her club Swansea in the recent Super Cup final against Pontyclun Falcons at Principality Stadium.
The squad will take part in a training camp in Scotland this weekend, which will include conditioned matches against Scotland, and a Wales Select side will participate in the Amsterdam 7s and Madrid 7s early next month ahead of the first Rugby Europe tournament in Paris on June 29-30. The second Rugby Europe tournament is in Ukraine on July 19-20.
WRU community director Geraint John said, “We have a fantastic opportunity here to not only qualify for the World Series qualifier, but develop a group of players for the sevens and 15-a-side game and upskill a number of coaches and support staff.
“We have had a good few weeks of training already and we are buoyed by the players’ commitment and attitude. We are working around players’ work and key educational commitments, supporting their strength and conditioning work away from the National Centre of Excellence.
“Two years ago we ended the Rugby Europe series in the top eight, last year we finished ninth. Five of the Rugby Europe countries – England, France, Russia, Ireland and Spain – are already on the World Series and teams like Belgium, Holland, Poland and Kazakhstan have vibrant sevens programmes so it certainly won’t be an easy task. However, we all believe we have the talent within the squad to help us achieve our aim of getting into the top eight.”
Wales Sevens training squad
Alex Callender*, Alisha Butchers*, Bethan Lewis*, Bethan Davies, Courtney Keight, Dyddgu Hywel*, Gemma Rowland*, Gwen Crabb*, Hannah Jones*, Jasmine Joyce*, Jess Kavanagh*, Keira Bevan*, Lauren Smyth*, Lisa Neumann*, Lleucu George*, Rebekah O’Loughlin, Celyn Lazenby, Ellie Morgan, Megan Webb, Caitlin Lewis, Hannah Powell
*Full Wales Women international
Preparation Camps / Invitational Tournaments –
18th / 19th May – Training Camp in Scotland (with Scotland)
1st / 2nd June – Amsterdam 7s Wales Select
7th – 9th June – training sessions with Spain and Wales Select playing in one-day Madrid 7s
Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series
29th / 30th June – Leg 1, Marcoussis, France
20th / 21st July – Leg 2, Kharkiv, Ukraine