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Play for Her

Play for Her

The Wales Women players are looking to themselves for inspiration ahead of their final Women’s Six Nations game against Scotland on Saturday (Scotstoun, 5pm, BBC Scotland, BBC iPlayer).

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Warren Abrahams’ side will take on the Scots at Scotstoun Stadium knowing victory will see them finish in fifth spot in the shortened 2021 tournament.

The squad recently held a team workshop in which each player remembered the reasons why they took up the game and the first feelings they had playing rugby. They plan to ‘Play For Her’ – that younger version of themselves, the girl who played for enjoyment with her friends and who aspired to one day wear the red jersey of Wales. Many of the players have been inspired along the way by their own experiences, some of them very difficult and those of others close to them. All those memories have formed the players they are today and they need look no further when it comes to motivation for their Six Nations finale. They have also made it clear they want to inspire young girls who are in that same position now.

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Wales Women’s captain Siwan Lillicrap said: “We did a bit of a culture workshop and one of the things we talked about was the first rugby experience we had as kids, how it made us feel, and how it made us fall in love with the sport and want to pursue our dreams.

“Those feelings we all had as a kid playing at our rugby clubs and the sense of family, belonging and honour are want we want to play for now.

“We want to play for her – the girls we were when we started off in the game and the reasons we play the game. We want to remember what those moments felt like because smiles on faces are really important. Rugby gave us so much joy as kids and allowed us to live our dream so for us, it’s about tapping into that joy and love.

“It will help keep us motivated and doing what we love.”

Lillicrap continued: “Growing up from a young age I went to Waunarlwydd Rugby Club with my father from the age of three or four. I was water girl, tee girl, and there every weekend.

“Even though I couldn’t play till I was 17, I fell in love with the sport way before that because of its community feel and the rugby family.

“I had a sense of belonging to the sport and as soon as I could play, I loved every minute of it. It shows the strength of the community game in Wales and what the clubs can do. I want to help give girls in Wales the opportunities I didn’t have growing up, but also the joy the sport gave to me.

“If I didn’t have Waunarlwydd Rugby Club and my father and brother involved there, maybe I wouldn’t be in this position. Girls have got good opportunities in Wales now with the hubs are back up and running which is fantastic after the tough year we’ve had with the pandemic.”

Wales Women’s vice-captain Hannah Jones said: “I played in a mixed team at Crynant RFC.

“I started playing in primary school and we do have that mindset of playing for the little girl who fell in love with the game. We all love the game of rugby.

“We put in so much hard work to try and get a performance. This year we’ve been televised a lot more so young girls can see us play which is great.

“Getting little ones involved and interested in rugby is a massive part of the game.

“I’ve teamed up with Generation Se7ens and we’re doing things like summer camps to try and get girls involved, having fun in rugby, and getting a taste of the sport.”

Along with players themselves and family members, Elli Norkett, the Wales international who passed away in 2017 is a source of inspiration to many, while Robyn Lock has spoken about getting back to rugby was a huge motivating factor for her during her cancer treatment six years ago.

The squad hopes to finish the Women’s Six Nations on a high against Scotland after opening defeats to France and Ireland.

“We want to leave no stone unturned and give everything to have an all-round performance. Hopefully that will result in a win,” said Lillicrap.

“It’s important we take these chances when they come around because we don’t know when the next time we’re going to play will be. We need to learn our lessons and we’ve reflected honestly and positively. Now it’s about how we take that into Scotland this weekend.

“We’ve spoken openly about how we want to be better attackers and play an exciting brand of rugby. We’ve worked hard on that.

“In the first two games we’ve gone out in the first 20 minutes and not had too much possession, conceded too many points, and maybe that has made us resort back to old ways.

“We need to be brave, but sensible and do the basics well. We need to front up in the contact area and hopefully that will allow us to move the ball a bit better.”

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