Welsh Rugby Union: Review of women's game starts

Wales finished bottom of this year's Women's Six Nations
Wales finished bottom of this year's Women's Six Nations

The Welsh Rugby Union has commissioned a mid-term review of the women's "performance rugby strategy" in Wales.

The review is set to be completed by late June, after which recommendations will be made to the WRU board.

Wales, under new coach Warren Abrahams, finished bottom of this year's Six Nations without winning a game.

"Usually we would conduct a review such as this with any of our national teams after a Rugby World Cup cycle," said WRU chief executive Steve Phillips.

"But given the postponement of the 2021 Rugby World Cup (and) the global pandemic which has greatly impacted our ability to implement our strategic aims across all levels of the women and girls' game... we felt this was the right time to conduct a mid-term review, with the aim of having a positive impact on our programme ahead of the rearranged Rugby World Cup."

The review will be led by three independent panellists: Helen Phillips, chair of Commonwealth Games Wales; Amanda Bennett, ex-Wales Women vice-captain; and Sport Wales board member and former Wales coach Kevin Bowring.

It will include current and former players, coaches, WRU staff and board members.

"Given the strategic importance of the women and girls' game to the WRU, I want to take this opportunity to ensure we are progressing against the approved Strategic Plan for Women's Performance Rugby," Phillips added.

"We were keen to involve independent experts in our review of the performance end of the women's game and take on board their recommendations in order to ensure we have the optimum opportunities - including structures, environment and culture - needed to drive success on the world stage.

"We will not avoid difficult decisions on the back of this review in order to improve."

The WRU has faced criticism this season over the way it runs the women's game, especially during a Six Nations campaign that saw Wales concede 15 tries in their opening two games to France and Ireland and fail to score a single point.

Abrahams' young side did recover some pride in their final game, a 27-20 loss away to Scotland in the fifth-sixth place play-off.

Former WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips had said in July 2020 he would like professional contracts for leading players in place before the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand, but currently there has been no firm timescale set by the governing body for if or when these might be offered.

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