From talented teen to full-time pro

Who is Hannah Jones: Ten things you should know about the Wales centre

Hannah Jones’s talent was obvious from an early age when she was called into the Wales set-up – and made her Test debut – as a teenager.

She is one of the most experienced players in the squad and captained Wales in their opening 2022 Rugby World Cup match against Scotland.

Ten things you should know about Hannah Jones

1. Hannah Jones was born on 14 November 1996 in Swansea.

2. She says her three sporting heroes are Jessica Ennis (“She has achieved amazing things in her sport, like all three of these brilliant athletes”), Shane Williams (“I bump into him quite often in Ammanford”) and Cristiano Ronaldo (“I liked football quite a lot when I was younger”).

3. She started playing aged six at primary school in Brynamman and went on to join a mixed team at Crynant, a local club in West Wales.

As she got older, the journeys to find regular girls’ rugby got longer. “It wasn’t easy, it was challenging, but rugby was my favourite sport and I wanted to play for Wales,” Jones told Rugby World in 2022. “There are lots of opportunities for girls now so there is a better pathway.”

4. She was 13 when she first went to a women’s International – Wales v England, of course.

5. A couple of years later she was called into the national set-up, which meant hour-plus drives to Cardiff (and back) for training. Her mum would read magazines in the car or go into the city centre while Jones was put through her paces alongside players who on the whole were significantly older than her.

“It was difficult at the start but players put their arms around me, Dyddgu Hywel helped me through, and it was great to learn off the amazing players I’d been watching.

“There was a year between when I was first called in and when I got my first cap, so that helped my transition.”

6. She was part of the Team GB sevens squad in 2021 but didn’t get selected for the Olympics in Tokyo.

She also travelled to Australia with Alisha Butchers and Jasmine Joyce in 2019 to play in the AON Uni 7s Series for Adelaide.

“The Olympics was coming up, so we thought, ‘How can we play more sevens without it being for a social side?’. We looked at different countries and Australia had the best league. We went out there for a couple of months and played against the best players in Australia week in, week out. It was challenging moving away but I’m glad I did.”

7. She was one of the first dozen Wales women’s players to be awarded full-time contracts by the WRU in January 2022.

Of the biggest difference since going professional, she said: “I’ve definitely got more confidence. There’s more time to prepare. Each week I write down what I want to get out of the week in terms of skills, performance, nutrition, S&C, then I aim to transfer that into the game.

“So if I work on my tackle technique in training, it’s then taking it into the game. I’ve especially seen the difference in the gym; I’m going into the gym fresher and can lift heavier, then in games I can carry harder, tackle harder. There’s more time to work on my catch-pass, then I can transfer that into a game under pressure.

“Having that time throughout the week, to prep your week, rugby is the focus and it’s a privilege to be in this position.”

8. She got engaged on the pitch after Wales’ match against Canada in the autumn of 2021 when Dino Dallavalle, who plays for Llandovery and has an ice-cream parlour in Ammanford, proposed.

9. Before going pro, she was studying for a PGCE at Cardiff Met and plans to complete that to qualify as a PE teacher.

10. Red is her favourite colour – just as well she plays for Gloucester-Hartpury and Wales!. “I quite like to be matching – red boots, red scrunchie, red top!”

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