Wales Teen Nel Metcalfe Set for Huge Black Ferns Test

While South Africa battle New Zealand for the World Cup trophy in the men’s game this weekend, Wales Women have an equally sizeable task.

In the early hours of Saturday morning on the other side of the world, Ioan Cunningham’s team also face New Zealand – the Black Ferns – in their second match of the new WXV1 tournament.

Wales lost their opener to Canada and they couldn’t have been given a tougher assignment in game two than a match against the world champions in front of New Zealand’s own fans in Dunedin.

What a match, then, to make a full debut as a teenager – which is exactly what Wales full-back Nel Metcalfe is doing.


As a result of Metcalfe’s first start for her country, Wales’ Olympic star Jasmine Joyce has been switched back to the wing.


Wales head coach Cunningham said: “Nel has impressed everyone since she has been with us and fully deserves this opportunity to show what she can do. 

“It has been a remarkable journey for her since she played for Wales U20s, three months ago, in Canada.

“We know we have to tighten up on keeping the ball after the performance against Canada and as we showed in Wellington, when we do that we can score tries and be competitive against any side.”

Closer to home, the four Welsh men’s regions are all in action this weekend – aiming to bounce back after four defeats in the opening round of the United Rugby Championship.

The big domestic clash of the weekend is at Rodney Parade, where the Dragons host Cardiff on Sunday afternoon in what is always a fiercely-contested derby.

It’s a fixture that the Dragons have forgotten how to win. You have to go back to 2014 for the last time the Dragons enjoyed success – a 23-17 victory on Boxing Day.

Since then, Cardiff have won 16 times on the bounce, but Dragons outside-half Angus O’Brien insists the one-way traffic can be redirected this weekend.

“It’s now just about having that killer instinct and capitalising on the opportunities,” said O’Brien after the Dragons lost at home to Edinburgh last week.

“We’re creating them in abundance, we just need to be smart and clinical when those opportunities do arise.”

The Scarlets have another difficult task ahead of them out in South Africa, where they lost heavily last weekend, 63-21 against the Vodacom Bulls.

On Saturday, they face the DHL Stormers in Stellenbosch, a team that has made the last two URC finals.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel says: “This South African trip was always going to be a tough one. We knew that when the fixture list came out, with these as our first two games. 

“We are here without a lot of our senior players and internationals. That’s the reality.

“There is obviously disappointment in the group and a bit of frustration as well. We have to recognise it was a poor loss for us and a heavy loss. But we have to move on and make sure we build as the season goes ahead.”

The Ospreys are at home for the first time this season, aiming to make amends for last week’s defeat at Connacht by overcoming Zebre.

The Swansea-based region will be confident as Zebre have not won a URC match since April 2022.

Jason Strange is loving life at the top of the Indigo Premiership with his Ebbw Vale side, but is still taking nothing for granted ahead of a home clash with Bridgend at Eugene Cross Park.

Last weekend’s win over Neath earned the Steelmen five more priceless points to keep them a point ahead of reigning champions Llandovery. The Drovers host bottom of the table Neath at Church Bank.

“We are going alright, but we’re taking it week by week. We were beaten by Bridgend at the Brewery Field last season and only just won at home,” said Strange.

“I know we’ve got to go to Pontypool for a televised game next week, but we won’t be taking our eye off the ball against Bridgend. We’ll be picking a strong team having made a number of changes for the trip to The Gnoll last week.”