By Kasey Rees
Warren Abrahams has backed his Wales Women’s side to bounce back quickly when they face Ireland on Saturday in their next Six Nations assignment.
A new era began for Wales as their first tournament campaign under new head coach Abrahams got underway last weekend.
But Wales suffered a heavy 53-0 defeat against a strong French side in Vannes and while it may be exciting to see a new coaching set up, it may take a while to develop a winning mentality.
Despite the setback, though, Abrahams is convinced his players have the ability to recover quickly.
“We can only focus on the stuff we can do,” said Abrahams. “If we keep believing in our process, ourselves, and the people around us then the rest will look after itself.
“We’ve got a game under our belt and we’ve learnt some really good lessons. It’s going to come down to the team that’s most adaptable and wants it the most.
“The team that plays is tactically smart enough will come out on top.”
This weekend will be Ireland’s first Test match in this season’s Women’s Six Nations.
Abrahams admits his side have a lot to work on,but has seen enough in training to suggest they can respond.
“The pressure is only the pressure we put on ourselves,” he said.
“The result will look after itself. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board.
“If we want to compete at this level, we’ve got to dominate the collisions.
“You’ve got to give yourself go forward and you’ve got to give yourself a platform to play from. We’ve got another opportunity again this weekend and hopefully we can step things up.
“The girls are all raring to go again. When you go through these tough situations, and we all agree it was a pretty painful experience, it’s going to make us better.
“When you put on this Wales badge, the players don’t need any extra motivation.
“They all pick themselves individually up and take responsibility for their actions.”
The loss against France pinpoints where Wales are amongst professional sides such as France and England. Despite the rise in popularity of the women’s game there needs to be more financial support from the Welsh Rugby Union.
Former Wales second row Gemma Hallett voiced her concerns about the lack of support after last year’s Six Nations.
She said: “Credit to the Welsh Rugby Union they have put a lot of effort into school and community clusters and the under 13s and 15s have had a massive turnout for those age groups.
“But the women’s game should have more respect from the union. We had a conversation around 2013 where the operational side of the Welsh Rugby Union told us they were not interested in investing finance into the women’s game.
“There should be more support, as the girls can’t have more success until the environment changes. But you can’t fault their passion as they always give 100%.”
It remains to be seen where Wales will finish in this year’s revamped competition, but the wider growth in popularity of the game should only rise with the right exposure.
All matches are broadcast on BBC iPlayer, but while this is progress there are still big challenges ahead.
Former Wales international Philippa Tuttiett believes rugby union was hit hard by Covid-19, but the 35-year-old hopes there will be an opportunity to move the women’s game forward after the pandemic.
She said: “Before the pandemic hit, there was talk of professionalism, with the WRU’s ambition to make the girls professional within two years.
“Looking ahead to the future, I hope that things will get better for women’s rugby as it will be interesting to see what lays ahead for the game.”
Wales: Robyn Wilkins (Gloucester-Hartpury); Lisa Neumann (Sale Sharks), Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Kerin Lake (Gloucester-Hartpury), Courtney Keight (Bristol Bears); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Jess Roberts (Sale Sharks); Cara Hope (Gloucester-Hartpury), Kelsey Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Cerys Hale (Gloucester-Hartpury), Natalia John (Bristol Bears), Gwen Crabb (Gloucester-Hartpury), Georgia Evans (Saracens), Manon Johnes (Bristol Bears), Siwan Lillicrap (capt, Bristol Bears)
Replacements: Molly Kelly (Sale Sharks), Caryl Thomas (Worcester Warriors), Donna Rose (Saracens), Teleri Wyn Davies (Sale Sharks), Bethan Dainton (Harlequins), Megan Davies (Exeter Chiefs), Niamh Terry (Exeter Chiefs), Caitlin Lewis (Cardiff Met)
Ireland: Eimear Considine (Munster); Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks), Eve Higgins (Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Connacht); Hannah Tyrrell (Leinster), Kathryn Dane (Ulster); Lindsay Peat (Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps), Linda Djougang (Leinster), Aoife McDermott (Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Connacht), Dorothy Wall (Munster), Claire Molloy (Wasps), Ciara Griffin (Munster).
Replacements: Neve Jones (Ulster), Katie O’Dwyer (Leinster), Laura Feely (Connacht), Brittany Hogan (Ulster), Hannah O’Connor (Leinster), Emily Lane (Munster), Stacey Flood (Leinster), Enya Breen (Munster).