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Abrahams puts faith in Siwan as captain

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WALES Women head coach Warren Abrahams has confirmed Siwan Lillicrap as his captain to lead the side into the rescheduled Women’s Six Nations in April.

Abrahams, who was appointed as head coach in November said, “I’m delighted to name Siwan as captain.

It’s been amazing to see her leadership both on and off the field in recent months, together with some other good leaders around her, through what has been a tough time for everyone.

Siwan is a fantastic role model, not only for our current group of players but also in terms of the legacy this group of players will leave for the next generation of Wales Women internationals and the community game.

“Siwan has had her fair share of injury setbacks recently but always supported the group whole-heartedly. It took her a number years to break into the side – that hunger to represent her country is as evident now as ever.”

Lillicrap, who has held the captain’s arm band since November 2019 said, “It’s a huge honour as always to put on the Wales jersey and to lead the team is incredibly special to me, especially at this time. The girls have put in so much work on and off the field over the past year without any international fixtures and to have some Six Nations matches to look forward to and aim for now means so much to us all.

“We are grateful to have this opportunity and the privilege of representing and leading your country never diminishes. It’s something you can never assume or take for granted. We’ve all been challenged in new ways in recent months and I know I’ve worked hard to prove myself to Warren as a player and captain which makes it even more meaningful.”

Wales will travel to France on the weekend of April 3, host Ireland the following weekend and contest a third, ‘play-off’ match on the weekend of April 24 in a format similar to the Autumn Nations Cup.

Abrahams believes the side is in as good as place as possible five weeks out from their opening game.

“We all feel incredibly lucky to be working towards some competitive, Six Nations matches. We are pushing ourselves as a management team and we are squeezing every drop out of our weekly coaching sessions and other ways we can grow as a squad. Every team has had to re-evaluate following the effects of the pandemic on sport and I believe the teams that come out best after all this will be the ones who are best equipped to adapt to the different pressures and challenges.

“It is fantastic to watch the contribution our players are making to their Allianz Premier 15s clubs. They are benefitting from top quality coaching and game-time there and we are grateful for that too.”

Former USA women’s sevens coach Abrahams insists he isn’t looking any further than the trip to France on the weekend of April 3.

“Everything is tailored towards that first game in France now. It’s very exciting to be training as a group but there’s no better feeling than representing your country and to be able to look forward to being part of a competitive Six Nations match is what we are all passionate about. But first we have to get the work done and believe in ourselves. We are encouraged by the physical progress and performance improvements the players are making both within our environment and for their clubs and they are taking ownership of aspects of the analysis work on our opposition. Whether or not we will have any crowds on the day, France will be a formidable opponent that we need to respect but at the same time it’s anyone’s game on the day. The match will give is a fantastic idea of where we are and after that we will concentrate on welcoming Ireland to Wales.”

Abrahams has extended his training squad with a view to developing depth in readiness for Rugby World Cup in September. Along with the return from injury of internationals Lleucu George, Kerin Lake and Ffion Lewis, he has added five uncapped players in 17 year old Gloucester-Hartpury forward Sisilia Tuipulotu, props Laura Bleehen, Gwenllian Jenkins and Madi Johns and Exeter scrum-half Megan Davies and welcomed back Mel Howley (née Clay) after a year out due to the birth of her son along with international forwards Carys Phillips and Bethan Dainton thanks to their good form for Worcester Warriors and Harlequins respectively in the Allianz Premier 15s.

Abrahams added, “It’s vital we continue to develop the squad with the Rugby World Cup just around the corner. We are pleased with the attitude the players have shown throughout this period and we are excited for the next phase.”

Wales Women training squad:

Forwards: Laura Bleehen, Abbie Fleming, Alisha Butchers, Gwen Crabb, Bethan Dainton, Georgia Evans, Cerys Hale, Cara Hope, Mel Howley, Molly Kelly, Gwenllian Jenkins, Natalia John, Manon Johnes, Madi Johns, Kelsey Jones, Beth Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Robyn Lock, Carys Phillips, Shona Powell-Hughes, Donna Rose, Caryl Thomas, Sisilia Tuipulotu, Teleri Wyn Davies

Backs : Keira Bevan, Megan Davies, Alecs Donovan, Lleucu George, Beth Huntley, Bryonie King, Courtney Keight, Jade Knight, Kerin Lake, Caitlin Lewis, Ffion Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Kayleigh Powell, Paige Randall, Jess Roberts, Gemma Rowland, Lauren Smyth, Elinor Snowsill, Niamh Terry, Meg Webb, Robyn Wilkins, Flo Williams

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Scarlets support new Wish Fund campaign for children and young people

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THE Scarlets are working in partnership with their local NHS Charity to support the Wish Fund, a new campaign which will create magical memories for children and young people living with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families.

The Wish Fund will raise funds for NHS Paediatric Palliative Care services in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area. The funding will enable the services to provide activities which are beyond NHS expenditure.

These include fantastic group activities and family day trips, therapeutic play toys to help young patients process what they are experiencing, and wellbeing resources for families and young siblings.

Angharad Davies, Children’s Community Lead Nurse, said: “The Wish Fund will provide us with opportunities to give that little extra to our patients and families.

“It means we can create lasting memories together which will be cherished forever. I can’t tell you how much this means to the children and young people we work with, their families and carers, and the Paediatric Palliative Care team.”

Jonathan Davies, Scarlets Rugby, said: “We are thrilled to be able to support the Wish Fund and look forward to working with Hywel Dda Health Charities to make a real difference to families across mid and west Wales.

“We hope to inspire people across the region to join with us and bring a bit of joy to their lives. We want to help them create some brilliant memories which will last forever.”

The campaign officially launched on May 20 and the charity publicised the partnership at the Scarlets Vs Stormers match on May 21 at Parc y Scarlets.

The Wish Fund campaign will see the NHS charity and the Scarlets working together on an ongoing basis to raise funds for the campaign and raise awareness about the work of the Paediatric Palliative Care team.

Pictured L-R: Jayne Thomas (Clinical Nurse Specialist, Paediatric Palliative Care), Tiara Davies (patient), Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Delton Williams (patient), Anne-Marie Llewellyn (Children’s Community Nurse)

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Rob Evans and Steff Hughes leaving Scarlets

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SCARLETS has confirmed that Rob Evans and Steff Hughes are amongst the nine players who will be leaving the club at the end of the 2021-22 season.

It has already been announced that Liam Williams has signed for Cardiff Rugby and Angus O’Brien is rejoining the Dragons for next season, while James Davies revealed in April that he is retiring from the game on medical grounds.

As well as Rob and Steff, the Llanelli-based side will also be saying its farewells and thanks to Tyler Morgan, Marc Jones, Tom Phillips and Tomi Lewis after Saturday’s final URC match of the season against DHL Stormers.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “I’d like to thank all these players for everything they have given to the Scarlets jersey.

“Boys like Rob, Steff, Cubby and Liam have played more than a century of games for the club and they will be fondly remembered by everyone here, staff, team-mates and supporters.

“They can be extremely proud of what they have achieved and I am sure they will have great memories of representing the Scarlets over the years.

“Every season players move on and we always respect the decisions that are made. With a reduced playing budget, we have had to cut our squad for next season and that has meant we have had some difficult decisions to make.

“The players have continued to give their full commitment, as they have always done, and I’m sure our supporters will give them the reception they all deserve at our final game against the Stormers on Saturday. I wish them all well for what comes next.”

SCARLETS LEAVERS 2021-22

ROB EVANS
The Pembrokeshire loose-head came through the Scarlets Academy and after playing for Carmarthen Quins in the Welsh Premiership made his senior debut against Sale Sharks in January 2013. Rob has made 156 Scarlets appearances and scored 13 tries, including one in Glasgow that secured a memorable away semi-final victory in the PRO14. Was a member of the side that lifted the Guinness PRO12 title in 2017 and will be remembered as a larger than life character around the squad during his 10 seasons at Parc y Scarlets. Capped 39 times for Wales,

LIAM WILLIAMS

Liam Williams is bringing to an end his second spell with the Scarlets. The 31-year-old Wales international full-back and British & Irish Lion has played 119 games for the club and has scored 34 tries, one of which set the Scarlets on their way to PRO12 glory in the final in 2017. Liam is joining Cardiff Rugby for next season.

STEFF HUGHES

Steff Hughes has made 104 appearances and scored seven tries for the Scarlets since making his debut at centre in an LV=Cup game against Saracens nine years ago. A former Wales U20s captain, the Llanelli product has skippered the Scarlets on numerous occasions, including the memorable European pool win in Bath in 2020. His two tries in a thrilling home clash against Connacht in the same season helped secure Champions Cup qualification once again.

JAMES DAVIES

James Davies has retired from rugby on medical grounds after battling concussion issues. ‘Cubby Boi’ made his Scarlets debut in 2013 and went on to make 101 appearances in a Scarlets jersey. Delivered a superb try-scoring display in the PRO12 title-winning triumph over Munster and went on to win 11 caps for Wales. Cubby also represented Wales 7s at the Commonwealth Games and Team GB at the 2016 Olympics.

MARC JONES

The experienced hooker joined the Scarlets from Sale in the summer of 2018 after making more than 150 appearances for the Sharks. The 35-year-old played 46 times for the Scarlets over four seasons, scoring four tries.

ANGUS O’BRIEN

Angus O’Brien made his Scarlets debut in 2018 and has made 45 appearances, scoring 112 points, including seven tries. The fly-half is returning to play for his home region, the Dragons, ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

TOM PHILLIPS

A former Wales U20s Grand Slam-winning captain, Tom has played 30 matches for the Scarlets since making his senior debut in 2015. Suffered a serious knee ligament injury in the opening URC match of the season in Edinburgh.

TYLER MORGAN

The Wales international centre has been at the Scarlets for two seasons, making his debut in the Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat in Toulon in 2020. The 26-year-old has made 22 appearances, scoring one try.

TOMI LEWIS

A Wales sevens international,Tomi has made two senior appearances for the Scarlets. Returned to action this season after a lengthy absence recovering from knee surgery and has been playing in the Indigo Premiership for Llandovery RFC.

Physiotherapist Carys Moggridge is also leaving the Scarlets to take up a role with the Welsh Rugby Union.

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Matchroom Whites win Worthington Cup

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MATCHROOM Whites have won the Llanelli Snooker League’s Worthington Cup team final, after a 4-1 victory in the final against Morfa Social

A highlight of the match was another fine Tyler Rees break of 89, although the maximum was on at one point.

Tyler Rees’ winning streak wasn’t over though, as he teamed up with his Matchroom teammate Chris Davies to win the final of the Doubles tournament, defeating Dean Bowen and Mark Sargent; more nice breaks in this one, Rees firing another 68, while Chris Davies added a fine 71.

Meanwhile, more success for the Matchroom came with Matchroom Blacks’ 4-1 Division 2 Olympic Cup final victory at the expense of Reading Room Reds, with Ryan Maides, Adrian Davies, Rhys Morgan and Thomas Williams winning; just Phil Payne offered any winning resistance for the Burry Port side.

Meanwhile, Ammanord Snooker World’s leftie Anthony Krysa is through to the final of this year’s Singles, after a 3-0 victory against Kev Gronow of the Gremlin Club; Krysa made some nice breaks, including a fine 75 knock.

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