Wales is always a tough and challenging place to go and play, there’s always a big, passionate crowd attending when England play there, so it is intimidating. If you don’t get a result, you’ll remember that day for the rest of your life.
New head coach
Wales are currently in good form, they’re five from five under new head coach Rowland Phillips and played well against Italy on the weekend in beating them 20-8. They have momentum which makes it tough for England to come up against.
Wales also know they’re playing against the World Champions so they’ll lift their game, it’s tricky to be the away team in any match, never mind against Wales.
Wales like to play an expansive game under their new coach. They like to get the ball out to the outside channels and get their fast wingers into the game early, in particular Jasmine Joyce who starred at the Olympics for Team GB Sevens in the summer. Their full back Dyddgu Hywel also cuts a hard line and as she showed last weekend, she doesn’t need much help finding the try line.
Wales are good at mixing up their attacking play, they like to go wide but can easily switch up their point of attack and go narrow through their forwards. . They scored two well executed tries last weekend through their pack so their versatility is tough to combat.
England’s job will be to slow down good ball for Wales. The Red Roses won’t want to let them play in the outside channels, so managing that breakdown area will be crucial. In turn, if England can get quick ball they will have a solid platform to play off.
Red Roses hoping for a good start
England started slow against France, but they showed character and resilience to not panic and stick to their game plan when they were up against it.
They were so clinical in the second half last weekend, to come back from 13-0 at half time and overcome the biggest half time deficit to win in Women’s Six Nations history is a huge credit to them.
‘The memories haven’t gone away’
Whenever I played in Wales, it was always different to playing other sides. They were always massively up for it and you could feel the tension and the rivalry on the pitch.
The memories haven’t gone away from when I was in the squad and we last lost to Wales. It was in 2009 and they won 16-15 through a last-minute penalty kick from Non Evans. It was the first time we had ever lost to them so it wasn’t a good experience for anyone involved.
Tough 50th cap experience
I also won my 50th cap in Wales, which was an unforgettable experience. It was cold and the rain was coming down heavily. We played at Cross Keys near Newport and the conditions weren’t great at all because of the weather. It was a physical game and we were pushed really hard by Wales, eventually winning 19-0 through tries from Francesca Matthews, Danielle Waterman and a penalty try. And to top the day off I was presented my 50th cap not in the function suite but in the crowded changing rooms!
It just shows playing Wales in Wales is always a tough place to play. England will need to be at their very best because they are up against a team full of confidence who won’t make it easy for them.