European Glory Beckons For The Four Welsh Regions This Weekend

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

But they may well have their thunder stolen by Wales in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations.

After hammering Ireland, 31-5, last week in the opening round, Wales are in Scotland on Saturday afternoon, aiming to make it two wins from two.

Not so long ago, the idea that the Wales women’s side would overshadow the four men’s regions playing in the knockout stages of the European competitions would have seemed ridiculous.

But it is a mark of changes in the sport and more evidence that if women’s teams are given enough money and resources, then progress on and off the field can be rapid.

The decision to move the women’s Six Nations to a later slot in the season – rather than play it alongside the men’s tournament – was initially done simply as a consequence of Covid restrictions.

But the move has given the women’s tournament far more room to breathe, rather than operate in the shadow of it’s bigger, and older, brother.

In Edinburgh, Wales will be without their injured second row Gwen Crabb, but they have recalled the vastly experienced Sioned Harries at No.8.

Harries, who still works as a teacher and juggles her rugby with her classroom career, began her Wales journey 12 years ago when she was first capped as a 21-year-old.

She was in the side that beat Scotland back in October at the Women’s World Cup and has warned her teammates the Scots will be desperate to make up for losing to the last kick of the game in New Zealand.

“They were very disappointed at the way they lost to us in the World Cup and they will still be very bitter about that,” says Harries.

“They are also coming off a big loss to England, so that is only going to make them tighter. We are playing away and their emotions will be running high, which is going to make them dangerous.”

At the same time as that 5.30pm game kicks-off in Edinburgh, the Dragons will be bidding to make the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup by winning just down to road at Glasgow.

The Newport club will be huge underdogs against a team who lay fourth in the URC table, compared to the Dragons’ lowly 15th.

Slightly more fancied to progress to the last eight will be Cardiff, who at least have a home tie against Sale Sharks at what is certain to be an emotional Arms Park following the death earlier this week of their former chairman, Peter Thomas.

It was Thomas who pioneered – and funded – many of Cardiff’s early expeditions into Europe almost 30 years ago.

Cardiff won three of their four pool matches, whilst Sale dropped down to the Challenge Cup after Heineken Champions Cup home-and-away defeats to both Ulster and Stade Toulouse.

But Sale are likely to be slight favourites as they are currently second in the Premiership and enjoyed a recent notable victory over leaders, Saracens.

The Ospreys carry Welsh hopes in the top tier European competition, the Heineken Champions Cup, but their mission looks extremely tough as they go to London to face mighty Saracens on Sunday.

The weekend starts on Friday night with the Scarlets at home to French club Brive in the Challenge Cup, a tie that form suggests should go in the Welsh side’s favour.