Can Wales conclude a groundbreaking year off the field with success in New Zealand?

Wales Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022

Regardless of what happens at the Rugby World Cup, 2022 has been a landmark year for Wales.

It began with the first 12 full-time women’s contracts being handed out by the WRU in January, alongside a batch of semi-professional deals.

The contracts had an instant impact in the 2022 Six Nations, as Wales won their first two matches with late surges that suggested professionalism had already improved the team’s fitness levels.

However, comprehensive defeats by England and France quickly reminded Ioan Cunningham’s side that challenging the top countries will not happen instantly, while the final-round home loss to Italy was the first major disappointment of the campaign. Still, their third-place finish was their highest since 2009.

The positive developments have continued into the summer, as the number of full-time contracts was increased to 29 last July. Kelsey Jones, Kayleigh Powell and Gwen Crabb – all of whom shined in the Six Nations – were among those to receive professional deals. Other players have received three-month contracts that cover the World Cup.

With plenty going right off the field, Wales should expect a positive showing in the global showpiece event. Their pool includes Scotland, who they have already beaten this year, and Australia, who have won just one match this year. Reaching the quarter-finals is a realistic aim, despite their other group opponent being host nation New Zealand.

Wales reached the semi-finals at the second women’s World Cup in 1994, but that remains their best finish. Making the last four in 2022 may be beyond them but, with the reintroduction of quarter-finals to the tournament, they have a superb opportunity to reach the knockout stages.

Wales Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022

Ioan Cunningham’s 32-strong squad features 18 forwards and 14 backs, with Siwan Lillicrap named as captain and Hannah Jones vice-captain.

Sioned Harries, Elinor Snowsill and Caryl Thomas are heading to their fourth World Cup while, in contrast, 19 players are poised to play in the tournament for the first time.

Lowri Norkett, whose sister Elli played at RWC 2014 but tragically died in a car crash aged 20 in 2017, is amongst those selected and in line to make her World Cup debut.

Cunningham said, “We are delighted with the group we’ve settled on, we are really looking forward to seeing what we can do when we touch down in New Zealand next week.

“Siwan is a brilliant captain on and off field. She has a great tactical mind and an understanding of what calls to make at what moment. Her communication with referees and her game management skills are second to none. She certainly benefits the team in many ways.”

Backs

(DoB/Club/Position/Caps)

Keira Bevan (28 Apr 1997/Bristol Bears/Scrum-half/44)

Lleucu George (12 Jan 2000/Gloucester-Hartpury/Centre/10)

Hannah Jones (14 Nov 1996/Gloucester-Hartpury/Centre/39)

Jasmine Joyce (9 Oct 1995/Bristol Bears/Wing/27)

Kerin Lake (24 May 1990/Gloucester-Hartpury/Centre/38)

Ffion Lewis (29 Jun 1996/Worcester Warriors/Scrum-half/24)

Lisa Neumann (23 Dec 1993/Gloucester-Hartpury/Wing/27)

Lowri Norkett (Worcester Warriors/Centre/2)

Kayleigh Powell (18 Feb 1999/Bristol Bears/Full-back/11)

Elinor Snowsill (7 Feb 1989/Bristol Bears/Centre/67)

Niamh Terry (27 Jun 1989/Worcester Warriors/Fly-half/7)

Meg Webb (9 Jan 2001/Bristol Bears/Centre/9)

Robyn Wilkins (1 Apr 1995/Exeter Chiefs/Fly-half/59)

Carys Williams-Morris (Loughborough Lightning/2)

Forwards

Alisha Butchers (14 Jun 1997/Bristol Bears/Back-row/38)

Alex Callender (29 Jul 2000/Worcester Warriors/Back-row/19)

Gwen Crabb (28 Jun 1999/Gloucester-Hartpury/Lock/25)

Georgia Evans (29 Sep 1997/Saracens/Lock/12)

Kat Evans (9 Jan 1986/Saracens/Hooker or Flanker/3)

Abbie Fleming (31 Mar 1996/Exeter Chiefs/Back-row/4)

Cerys Hale (4 Apr 1993/Gloucester-Hartpury/Prop/41)

Sioned Harries (22 Nov 1989/Worcester Warriors /Back-row/65)

Cara Hope (24 Nov 1993/Gloucester-Hartpury/Prop/21)

Natalia John (15 Feb 1996/Worcester Warriors/Lock/29)

Kelsey Jones (1 Sep 1997/Gloucester-Hartpury/Hooker/29)

Bethan Lewis (19 Feb 1999/Gloucester-Hartpury/Back-row/29)

Siwan Lillicrap (21 Sep 1987/Gloucester-Hartpury/Back-row/47)

Carys Phillips (12 Nov 1992/Worcester Warriors/Hooker/60)

Gwenllian Pyrs (28 Nov 1997/Bristol Bears/Prop/21)

Donna Rose (5 Jun 1991/Saracens/Prop/12)

Caryl Thomas (19 Feb 1986/Worcester Warriors/Prop/60)

Sisilia Tuipulotu (14 Aug 2003/Gloucester-Hartpury/Lock/4)

Wales Women’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2022

(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)

Pool A

Sun 9 Oct, Wales v Scotland (5.45am, Northland Events Centre, Whangarei)

Sun 16 Oct, Wales v New Zealand (3.15am, Waitakere Stadium, Auckland)

Sat 22 Oct, Australia v Wales (2.15am, Northland Events Centre, Whangarei)

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