Jasmine Joyce of Wales is tackled during the Pool A Rugby World Cup 2021 match against New Zealand. Pic: Getty Images.

Nigel Walker Backs New Tournament To Lead Into Women’s Six Nations

By Hannah Blackwell

Wales will be part of a new tournament aimed at bridging the gap between club and international rugby ahead of next year’s Women’s Six Nations.

The Welsh Rugby Union have joined the Irish and Scottish unions in creating the Celtic Challenge, which will start next month.

One team from each of the three countries will compete in the tournament in the first year, while the aim is to launch a six-team tournament with two from each union in 2024.

The 2023 Celtic Challenge will see each team play two home games and two away games, with the last round of fixtures set to take place four weeks before the 2023 Women’s Six Nations kicks off.

Wales will be represent by a WRU Development XV, Ireland will enter a Combined Provinces XV, while and Scotland will be represented by The Thistles.


At present, none of the current Wales squad play their club rugby in Wales. No details have been given about player release from current contracts with clubs outside Wales.

Wales will be coached by Wales forwards coach Mike Hill with Liza Burgess and Rhys Pritchard as assistants.

The WRU says the squad will feature a mix of young, emerging players and club players.

“We are very excited by this new opportunity to develop players on the female performance pathway,” said WRU performance director Nigel Walker.


“This is very much a starting point with one team per country in this pilot year, but the training programme and matches will provide an invaluable experience for Welsh players with ambitions to play international rugby to improve and test themselves in a performance environment.”


Celtic Challenge fixtures

The Thistles v WRU Development XV – Saturday, 21/Sunday, 22 January, 2023 – location TBC


WRU Development XV v Combined Provinces XV – Sunday, 29 January, 2023 – Cardiff Arms Park


Combined Provinces XV v The Thistles – Saturday, 4 February, 2023 – Kingspan Stadium


WRU Development XV v The Thistles – Saturday, 11 February, 2023 – Cardiff Arms Park


Combined Provinces XV v WRU Development XV – Saturday, 18 February, 2023 – Kingspan Stadium


The Thistles v Combined Provinces XV – Saturday, 25 February, 2023 – location TBC


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