Ospreys Women lead the way in terms of selection for the national Six Nations squad with 13 called up, including first timers Cara Hope, Siwan Lillicrap and Rhian Nokes.
Rachel Taylor of the Dragons will again lead the will again lead the 28-strong squad.
The campaign will also confirm the teams who qualify for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. England, Ireland and France have automatically qualified and the top two of the remaining teams over last season and this, will qualify for the tournament in Dublin in 2017. Wales are currently second in that qualification process, Italy leading the way with three wins and Scotland third without a win.
Wales kick off against Ireland in Dublin, meet England at the Twickenham Stoop and host Scotland, France and Italy at The Gnoll, in Neath.
“We are looking to improve on last year’s campaign and recreate the momentum we built at the start with two wins in a row. We are targeting our home games against Scotland, France and Italy and we’d love to notch our first win on English soil and make it successive victories over the world champions for the first time in our history,” said the Wales Women head coach, Rhys Edwards.
“We have a good blend of experience and some talented newcomers and all of the uncapped players have worked hard to get into the squad. Alisha Butchers has progressed from the U18 pathway and played for the Wales Sevens side in Dubai last month.
“Bethan Dainton has proved herself to be a consistent try scorer on the sevens circuit and played for Wales in all the European tournaments in 2015 and Rhian Nokes makes the national 15-a-side squad for the first time having been a mainstay of the sevens side in recent seasons.
“Cerys Hale has forced her way back into contention after missing out on a cap when she was included in the Rugby World Cup squad in 2014, Cara Hope is a product of the ever improving regional programme and Ospreys skipper Siwan Lillicrap has worked hard for her opportunity with consistently good performances.”
13 different clubs are represented in the squad with our very own Skewen providing eight players. There are three each from Llandaff North and Pontyclun, two each from Penybanc, Bristol, Caernarfon and Maesteg Celtic and one each from Pencoed Phoenix, Whitland, Richmond, Wasps, Worcester and Blaenau Gwent-Ynysddu.
Wales Women kick-off the Six Nations against reigning champions, Ireland, in Dublin. They are also playing the Irish side, who completed the Grand Slam in 2013 for the first time, in a warm-up friendly at Ystrad Mynach on Sunday 24 January.
WALES WOMEN 2016 SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP SQUAD
Keira Bevan (Ospreys/ Skewen), Ffion Bowen (Ospreys/ Maesteg Celtic), Bethan Dainton (Dragons/ Bristol), Amy Day (Dragons / Llandaff North), Elen Evans (Scarlets / Caernarfon), Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets/ Pontyclun), Hannah Jones (Scarlets / Penybanc), Kerin Lake (Ospreys / Skewen), Rhian Nokes (Ospreys / Maesteg Celtic), Gemma Rowland (Dragons/ Wasps), Elinor Snowshill (Dragons / Bristol), Adi Taviner (Ospreys / Skewen), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys / Llandaff North)
Alisha Butchers (Scarlets/ Penybanc), Melissa Clay (Ospreys / Pencoed Phoenix), Catrin Edwards (Scarlets/ Llandaff North), Amy Evans (Ospreys / Skewen), Cerys Hale (Dragons/ Pontyclun), Sioned Harries (Scarlets/ Whitland), Cara Hope (Ospreys / Pontyclun), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys/ Skewen), Carys Phillips (Ospreys/ Skewen), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys/ Skewen), Amy Price (Ospreys/ Skewen), Rebecca Rowe (Dragons / Richmond), Rachel Taylor (capt, Dragons/ Caernarfon), Sian Williams (Dragons / Worcester), Megan York (Dragons / Blaenau Gwent)
WOMEN’S 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Saturday, 6 February: Ireland v Wales (Donnybrook, Dublin – 1.00pm)
Sunday, 14 February: Wales v Scotland (The Gnoll, Neath – 2.00pm tbc)
Sunday, 28 February: Wales v France (The Gnoll, Neath – 2.00pm tbc)
Saturday, 12 March: England v Wales (Twickenham Stoop – 12.30pm)
Sunday, 20 March: Wales v Italy (The Gnoll, Neath – 2.00pm tbc)
Sunday, 24 January: Wales v Ireland (CCB Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach – Kick off 12:00)