Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

“Whatever the result women’s rugby league is the winner” Head Coach Craig Taylor ahead of Wales’ first ever International

Posted on 13 November 2019 by Alex Bartlett

Head Coach Craig Taylor announced his squad of 23 for the first ever Wales Women’s Rugby League International game.

The game reignites a classic sporting rivalry as Wales go up against an England Lions team in St Helens on Saturday.

Taylor has faced even more challenges with selection than other national team coaches have due to the small sample size of game time the girls have played together.

In the build-up to the game they have played just one warm up together, falling 30-6 to Great Britain Teachers last month in Neath.

“Selection has been extremely difficult for this match. The girls have worked so hard I’m gutted that we have had to leave some out,” Taylor said.

“Having said that this is a squad of 23 players that myself along with James Allen feel that good foundations are in place, and we are developing great culture that going forward will make us a very tough team to play against.”

Taylor has given the team a few wise words of advice before the historic game on Saturday.

“At the end of the day all we have asked is play with passion and pride for your country. Be aggressive, complete and the score will take care of its self,” Taylor said.

“It’s an historic day in rugby league the first women’s international between England & Wales. This in itself-shows the rapid growth & expansion of the female game.”

Last month Taylor and Wales’ historic first women’s try scorer Emily Hughes spoke to the Sports Gazette before the game against Great Britain Teachers.

Reflecting on that game Taylor told Sports Gazette that he thought the girls were immense in their first run out as a team together.

“The group as a whole over the past four weeks have responded really well. Everything myself and staff have asked of them they have done.

“The first half we were so pumped we caught the GB team off guard. We physically bullied them in contact and to go in 6-4 in the lead was an amazing achievement in itself for the girls”

Head Coach Craig Taylor addresses the Wales squad at a training session last month (Credit Craig Taylor)

In the second half the GB teachers responded as Taylor rang the changes and his team fatigued.

“As we fatigued we made a number of errors that allowed three very quick try’s. But in the last 10 minutes we came back a little so overall a very pleasing first hit out.”

The second half flurry left Taylor disappointed at the final score but excited heading into their first capped international.

“I feel really positive about the England game the girls will have learned so much from that game, they have had homework on positional play looking at videos of top league players to review and give feedback on.”

Going into their first official international Taylor has not had much game action to learn about his players, but from what he has seen so far he is very happy.

“We are very physically big and strong as a team. We have uncovered a couple of real gems especially 17-year-old Ffion Owen she was outstanding,” Taylor added.

“I’m expecting a big game from the girls. I’m sure it will be a much more measured and controlled performance.”

It certainly seems preparation could not have gone better for the squad in their training camps ahead of what will be a huge day for the sport in the country.

“Whatever the result women’s rugby league is the winner. I hope a good day is had by all and wish both sets of players good luck.”