Former Wales women players say 'enough is enough' and demand action from WRU

Wales Women
Wales Women have not won a game in two years

A group of 123 former internationals have said "enough is enough" after launching a petition to improve the state of women's rugby in Wales.

The petition aims to bring back performance pathways for females to play at elite level, in line with their male counterparts.

"We cannot stand by and watch the women's game deteriorate any further," it says.

The petition is to the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

The WRU has reaffirmed its commitment to developing women's rugby from "top to bottom" across Wales.

The WRU said its new performance director Nigel Walker will take up his role at the end of this month, and he "has made it clear that women's performance rugby will be amongst his priorities".

Before Walker's appointment, the WRU commissioned a mid-term review of the women's "performance strategy" after a second successive winless Six Nations campaign.

The recommendations, which will will be made to the WRU board, are due to be published.

One of the main priorities will be appointing a new national coach following the departure of Warren Abrahams, with the Rugby World Cup just over a year away.

'Crisis point'

The former Wales representatives behind the petition include the likes of Alecs Donovan, Amy Evans, Caryl James, Elen Evans, Dyddgu Hywel, Gemma Hallett, Non Evans and Philippa Tuttiett.

In April this year they wrote a joint letter to the WRU's chief executive Steve Phillips saying they could no longer "turn a blind eye to the inequality of provision" and that the union's "inaction" went against its own strategy to support players at all levels.

"Our top players are encouraged to play outside of Wales, and our only women's team on an international stage is not winning," the letter said.

"The results of the last two Six Nations are a product of the current environment which brings us to crisis point we have feared was inevitable.

"Your systematic dismantling of the age grade and development pathways contributes significantly to the failures of the women's game in Wales today."

Five months on, the ex-players want to see action.

"We insist the WRU create and implement performance pathways so that current and future players can compete proudly in our national sport, can represent their families and communities, and aspire to be the very best players they can," the petition adds.

Nine-times capped former Wales prop and current Labour Party MP for Gower Tonia Antoniazzi was also a signatory to the letter and petition.

"At the moment there's nothing to improve your game and the best example you can give is the opportunities that boys and men have currently in Wales at schoolboys where you can play a better game of rugby, improve your skills at that age grade," she told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast.

"That's not there [for girls] and there's no other opportunities for women and girls to play better rugby and it's extremely frustrating."

The WRU's community director Geraint John said: "We recognise there is still a long way to go following 18 months without competitive community rugby and will implement a number of initiatives this season to help restart the female game."

He added they were "hugely buoyed" by the enthusiasm in the female game as they work through their Pathway to Participation.

"For example, during the autumn, there will be female skills centres around Wales for under-12s to under-18s along with senior talent ID opportunities, and we have increased staffing to boost the female community game," John said.

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