Wales Women have been given autumn fixtures aimed at linking with the men’s national team matches in November.
The women will play South Africa, Hong Kong and Canada on successive weekends at Cardiff Arms Park as they host three autumn Tests for the first time.
The idea is that fans can watch all the action in a day-long stretch of rugby in Cardiff, for two of those three weekends. The other women’s match is being played on the day before the men’s team face Tonga.
Wales Women v South Africa takes place on Saturday 10th November at 11:30 for the first meeting between the two sides since the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014 (an encounter Wales won 35-3). Their male counterparts will come up against another southern hemisphere team in the Under Armour Series later that day when they take on the Wallabies at 5.20pm at the Principality Stadium.
On Friday 16th November, it’s the first of two 2017 World Cup reunions for Wales Women when they meet Hong Kong at 19:00. The following day’s men’s match sees Wales take on Tonga (14:30).
Wales then face one of their greatest challenges of the season in the form of Canada, one of the leading sides in women’s international rugby, on Saturday 24th November (11:30, prior to Wales v South Africa next door at 17:20).
Coach Rowland Phillips’ team will be out to improve on their two losses to the Canucks – ranked fourth in the world – in Dublin and Belfast last summer.
“For us to have three strong competitive games during this autumn window highlights how we’re continually trying to improve the women’s programme,” said Phillips.
“Coming out of the World Cup last summer, we pinpointed the need to have a more structured autumn series that lines up well with our regional programme.
“We’ll be hosting teams from three different continents. They’ll provide strong and varied opposition for us, and they’ll all be coming to Cardiff well prepared.”
The former cross-code Wales international hopes that the Welsh public will get behind the team, particularly with the fixtures taking place alongside the Under Armour Series.
“We’re always trying to push the profile and standards of the women’s game, and the players make a lot of sacrifices to represent their country. We’ve had great support at the Arms Park before and we’re hoping for even more this time around.”
The Women’s Regional Championship was recently launched with a ‘Super 5s’ event at St Helen’s in Swansea, with all five regions playing each other in a series of fast-paced, shortened matches.
Phillips believes it will be the most competitive women’s regional championship to date and will select his players for the autumn from the regional squads in action over the next five rounds of rugby.
Geraint John, the WRU head of rugby performance, said: “It’s excellent to have a three-Test series for the women’s programme against a variety of teams from different continents, plus teams who were at the World Cup.
“We’d like to thank World Rugby for helping us with these fixtures, which represent an opportunity for Rowland to see players who have worked hard during the regional programme, and it will give them the chance to show their skills at Test level.
“Hopefully we will see people come in and support the players at the Arms Park, because these matches will help to keep the women’s and girls’ game growing in Wales.”
Tickets for each match will be £5 for adults, and £1 for U16s. More information on ticket purchasing will be available soon.
Wales Women’s Autumn Fixtures, Cardiff Arms Park:
Saturday 10th November – Wales v South Africa (11:30)
Friday 16th November – Wales v Hong Kong (19:00)
Saturday 24th November – Wales v Canada (11:30)