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Elinor Snowsill believes Wales women will benefit from Bristol link-up

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Wales scrum-half Keira Bevan hopes for club success at Bristol alongside club and country half-back partner Elinor Snowsill

There’s been a long history of Welsh players in Bristol – Non Evans, Mel Berry, Clare Flowers all plied their trade at Clifton. These are faces Wales fly-half Elinor Snowsill remembers well when she was embarking on her career.

After eight seasons in the West Country, Snowsill now finds herself a senior squad member at Bristol Bears surrounded by younger players such Manon Johnes, Lauren Smyth and Alisha Butchers, who form part of a contingent of eight Wales internationals at the club.

According to Snowsill, having a group of compatriots in one Premiership side will only improve the cohesion of the national team.

“On a personal level, having Keira Bevan there as a nine and Siwan Lillicrap at eight is crucial really. The more we get to play together the better it’ll be for Wales,” she said.

But it’s not just the proximity that makes Bristol appealing, it’s the close links it has to the men’s side. The women have access to watch them train, participate in meetings and observe analysis.

“A lot of what [Bristol boss] Pat Lam does filters down to us. I’ve learnt so much about culture and off pitch stuff from him.

“Some of the international girls scrummage against the academy boys and on the flip side they come into our training and do individual position specific workshops with us. I know it’s not the case in every club.

“Last year I had the opportunity to work with Ian Madigan. The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) did something similar with Sam Warburton and it’s beneficial from from both sides.”

Cross-border competition?

The number of girls playing rugby in Wales has increased significantly since a WRU initiative was launched in 2015 and captain Siwan Lillicrap believes the long term goal is to introduce a Welsh team into the Premier 15s, a league which is currently ring-fenced for three years.

“If we have a cross-border competition, it’ll boost the profile across the world,” she said.

Back-rower Butchers, who says the fierce competition at Bristol was one of the reasons behind her move, also supports the notion.

“It’s one of the best, most competitive leagues in the world. The more people we can get over there from Wales is only going to improve our international game,” said Butchers.

“I would love to have played for Scarlets in this league as it’s my home team.”

WRU chairman Gareth Davies says work is being done to improve standards, but admits the introduction of a Welsh side into the English top flight would be premature.

“I’m not sure we’re at that stage yet. But there are plans underway under (WRU performance director) Ryan Jones to increase the quality.

“Irrespective of what happens with the pandemic, we will continue the investment we’ve planned. It’s at a pivotal point, this is an opportunity to close the gap. There won’t be any danger of the women’s game being disregarded,” said Davies.

If a Welsh side in the league is not yet a realistic aim, Great Britain Olympic Sevens star Jasmine Joyce believes it’s about getting as many players into the English Premiership as early as possible.

She said: “It’s really important to get them in there from the off. Throw them in the deep end.

“We want to be pushing teams like England and France in the Six Nations and to do that we need to be playing there.”

Future of the Premier 15s

There is no restart date scheduled for the tournament which lost its sponsorship when Tyrrells chose not to renew its deal in August. But Snowsill is optimistic.

“I’m pretty confident the RFU will have something lined up. It’s a great package for people. There is room to make more of it than Tyrrells did.

“You got some brilliant stories of the players in the clubs, ie Irish international Claire Molloy is working as an A&E doctor in the Heath [University of Hospital of Wales, Cardiff] and travelling down to London to play for Wasps,” said Snowsill.

Lillicrap believes despite the pandemic, the game is going in the right direction, saying: “You see Barclay’s have invested in women’s football and I think the Premier 15s in a very attractive model for a company. I’m sure someone does come on board.”

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Six Nations Rugby | Le Garrec: Runners-up spot marks fitting send-off for departing players

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2019 champions Ireland had started the day as the only side who could mathematically topple eventual winners England at the top of the ranks, and Jamie Osborne’s try put France on the back foot early on.

Alex Kendellen also went over for the men in green in a try-filled first half, but scores from Thibault Debaes, Pierre Bochaton and Paul Mallez earned Les Bleuets a slender lead at the break.

Though Kendellen notched a second at the death Louis Bielle-Biarrey’s cleverly-worked try proved enough for France, helping them leapfrog their opponents in the standings.

Scrum-half Le Garrec said: “We’re really proud of our performance against Ireland – it’s great to finish on a high and give a good impression of ourselves.

“There are a lot of important players who will be leaving us after a number of years – the likes of Matthias [Haddad] and Paul [Mallez] – and we wanted to give back to them on the pitch.

“We have lots of good players. In some matches we struggled with our structure and getting out of our half, but with the ball we are capable of creating things. I love our style of play.”

Thibault Debaes

After an opening round defeat to England three-time winners France swept aside Italy, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in successive matches, and Le Garrec’s half-back partner Debaes agreed there were plenty of positives to take from the campaign.

Debaes, 19, picked up the Player of the Match plaudits against Ireland, having controlled the second half with a scintillating kicking display while also contributing a try.

He added: “Unfortunately the second half against England lost us the Championship, but we learnt a lot throughout the series. We were put under pressure by every team, but we learned to manage games and the end of matches.

“The level was high in every match and we are very happy to finish the Championship in second place.”

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Jonah Lomu’s son reveals he ‘dreams’ of playing in the Six Nations

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The son of All Black superstar Jonah Lomu has revealed he’d prefer to play in the Six Nations should he follow in his legendary late father’s footsteps.

Dhyreille Lomu, who currently plays on the wing, was born in France during his Dad’s brief stint playing for Marseille, hence any eligibility discussions for Les Bleus wouldn’t be an issue.

Known as Frenchie at school in New Zealand, the aspiring youngster has already began to impress at a number of age-grade tournaments in New Zealand.

Despite being 12, he’s already played in older teams as his obvious talent is beginning to shine through.

Lomu’s stime in France came towards the end of the his career, which also included a stint with the Cardiff Blues in Europe.

EDITORS PICKS:

Tragically, Lomu died in November 2015.

Playing on the wing Lomu finished his international career with 63 caps and 37 tries. He is regarded as the first true global superstar of rugby and consequently had a huge impact on the game

Below, we look at five other rugby legends sons who are making waves, but currently represent different countries to their legendary Dads.

Here’s a list of rugby legends sons who are set to play in the Six Nations.

1. Lucas Brooke (England)

  • Age: 19
  • Club: London Irish
  • Position: back-row
  • Dad: Zinzan Brooke (New Zealand)

Brooke, who can play across the back-row or at hooker, grew up in England so is fully qualified to wear the red rose. The powerhouse has represented Berkshire at county level and regularly played for his school, Wellington College.

CONTINUES ON PAGE 2




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Six Nations Rugby | Preview: France aim to make history in third Test against Australia

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Les Bleus bounced back from their heart-breaking loss in the opening match of the series with a first win over the Wallabies on Australian soil in 31 years on Tuesday.

And now they will look to clinch the series back in Brisbane to record a first-ever series win on Australian soil.

It would be a remarkable achievement for Les Bleus, particularly when you consider that they travelled Down Under without the majority of their first-choice players because of a combination of injuries, rest and the absence of the Top 14 finalists.

In their absence, a number of players have staked a claim for bigger roles within Fabien Galthié’s side, and victory in the third Test would only strengthen those claims.

Team news

With three Tests in 11 days, and more importantly, a five-day turnaround, there were always going to be changes for both sides.

Yet Galthié and counterpart Dave Rennie have both shown faith in some of their key men, with France starting six players for the third Test in a row, while Australia have gone for even more continuity with eight players starting each Test of the series.

Fly-half Antoine Hastoy is the one uncapped player in the French starting XV, while centre Pierre-Louis Barassi and winger Teddy Thomas make their first appearances of the tour.

Anthony Jelonch will lead the side once again, joining Baptiste Couilloud, Arthur Vincent, Damian Penaud, Melvyn Jaminet and Gaëtan Barlot in starting every Test. After a standout display in the second Test, Cameron Woki starts once again in the back row.

There are two uncapped players on the bench, back-rower Alexandre Bécognée and centre Julien Hériteau.

For Australia, exciting scrum-half Tate McDermott gets his opportunity to start after coming off the bench in the first two matches, while Isi Naisarani is rewarded for some strong replacement showings after being named at No.8.

Ones to watch

In Gaël Fickou and Virimi Vakatawa, France already boast one of the top centre combinations in the world, but this tour has seen Arthur Vincent show just why he was thrust onto the highest scene as a 20-year-old.

The Montpellier centre shifts to inside centre for this one, but will again line up against Hunter Paisami, having largely nullified the threat of one of Australia’s main strike runners in the second Test where Vincent made 25 tackles.

He links up with Pierre-Louis Barassi, the Lyon centre who ended the season in flying form and will be looking to get the better of Wallaby newcomer Len Ikitau, who is making his first Test start.

What they said

France captain Anthony Jelonch said: “This squad is hungry for wins. So after the win in the second Test, everyone turned their attention to Saturday’s game and had the feeling that we could do something truly historic. Winning this series, that’s not happened for a long time in the southern hemisphere.

“The squad has one aim, to win this match. We will all be ready to produce a big performance this weekend, especially after what we’ve seen on social media: the support of the public, all the families following us, it warms your heart.”

Teams

Australia: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Filipo Daugunu, 13. Len Ikitau, 12. Hunter Paisami, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. Noah Lolesio, 9. Tate McDermott, 1. James Slipper 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper (c), 8. Isi Naisarani

Replacements: 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Matt Philip, 20. Rob Valetini, 21. Jake Gordon, 22. Matt To’omua, 23. Reece Hodge

France: 15. Melvyn Jaminet, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Pierre-Louis Barassi, 12. Arthur Vincent, 11. Teddy Thomas, 10. Antoine Hastoy, 9. Baptiste Couilloud, 1. Enzo Forletta, 2. Gaëtan Barlot, 3. Sipili Falatea, 4. Pierre-Henri Azagoh, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 6. Dylan Cretin, 7. Cameron Woki, 8. Anthony Jelonch (c)

Replacements: 16. Anthony Etrillard, 17. Quentin Walcker, 18. Demba Bamba, 19. Baptiste Pesenti, 20. Alexandre Bécognée, 21. Teddy Iribaren, 22. Anthony Bouthier, 23. Julien Hériteau



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