The Ospreys Women trio of Keira Bevan, Gwen Crabb and Lauren Smyth have been selected in the national squad for the next two rounds of the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series.
Co-captains Hannah Jones and Jasmine Joyce will lead the Welsh party across the Marcoussis 7s Grand Prix this weekend (June 29, 30) followed by Kharkiv 7s Grand Prix on July 20, 21.
Both players were part of Wales’ Commonwealth Games squad last year and were key figures in this season’s Women’s Six Nations. Olympian Joyce has also starred for the Barbarians in their recent fixtures against USA and England.
Bethan Lewis is the other member of the Rugby Europe squad to have competed at the Commonwealth Games while Dyddgu Hywel, Alisha Butchers and Keira Bevan are also very experienced sevens players. Alex Callender played in Rugby Europe last season while this will be the first senior international tournament for the other six players.
WRU Community Director Geraint John, who has executive board level responsibility for women’s rugby said, "The women and girls’ strategy is very clear. We want to grow the women’s game in Wales and we believe sevens will help us to do that.
"Getting onto the World Series is a clear target for us as a Union and qualification for the World Series qualifier next April is by finishing in the top eight at the end of these two Rugby Europe tournaments, first in Paris this weekend and then in Ukraine next month. We expect the standard of rugby this weekend from all nations to be very high but the coaches and players have worked very hard and we know that we have the talent to do well if we play to the best of our ability. Jasmine and Hannah have really led by example throughout the programme on and off the field, driving standards and supporting other players."
Wales’ opponents on Saturday are Belgium, France and Netherlands but coach Jonathan Hooper believes the squad needs to concentrate on their own performances. "Each of our opponents on Day One will provide different challenges and opportunities. We are taking a game-by-game approach but if we express ourselves and play to our potential, we are certainly capable of producing postiive results."
Fellow coach Gareth Wyatt said, "We are looking forward to seeing the girls put into practice what they’ve learned throughout this programme. The attitude of the whole training squad has been spot-on and those not in the 13-strong squad this weekend have also had a big impact on the development of the group. As with the 15-a-side squad, we are developing a young but experienced group of players which bodes well for the future."
Wales Women Sevens squad for Marcoussis 7s (June 29, 30):
Keira Bevan, Alisha Butchers, Alex Callender, Gwen Crabb, Bethan Davies, Courtney Edwards, Lleucu George, Dyddgu Hywel, Hannah Jones (co-capt), Jasmine Joyce (co-capt), Bethan Lewis, Rebekah O’Loughlin, Lauren Smyth