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Wales name squad for Scotland clash

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WALES have named two uncapped players in their 23-man squad for their opening Under Armour Series clash against Scotland with wing Luke Morgan named in the starting XV and fly-half Jarrod Evans named on the bench.

Morgan, Wales Sevens’ all-time leading try scorer, will make his debut at Principality Stadium alongside the experienced duo of British & Irish Lions George North and Leigh Halfpenny.

Eight Lions in total are named for Wales including 2017 Player of the Series Jonathan Davies who returns from injury to feature for his country for the first time since 2017. He partners regional teammate Hadleigh Parkes in the midfield with Gareth Anscombe and Gareth Davies partnering at half-back.

Nicky Smith, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis make-up the front-three combination, with Lewis making his first start at home for Wales.

Cory Hill and captain Alun Wyn Jones continue their partnership in the second-row with Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty linking up to make an all Lions back-row.

Wales and Scotland will go head-to-head in Cardiff on Saturday for the Doddie Weir Cup and the hosts are looking forward to kicking off their 2018/19 campaign according, to Rob Howley.

“We are excited to kick off our autumn campaign on Saturday and it was great to welcome Warren back yesterday,” said Howley.

“Warren has been in constant dialogue with us over the past week and we have selected a very strong squad for this weekend.

“It is great to reward players on form and we are looking forward to seeing Luke make his debut on the wing.  He has come through the Sevens system, he will bring a point of difference to the squad and it’s a great opportunity for him.  Likewise it will be good to see Jarrod from the bench and hopefully seeing some x-factor from him.

“We have created good strength in depth, especially from the summer and have a nice balance bringing seven Lions back into the team.

“We are very respectful of this Scotland team and are looking forward to what should be a great opening match”

Elliot Dee, Rob Evans and Leon Brown provide the front-row cover on the bench with Adam Beard and Aaron Wainwright completing the forward contingent.  Tomos Williams, uncapped Evans and Scarlets wing Steff Evans complete the replacements.

WALES SQUAD TO PLAY SCOTLAND (Saturday November 3 KO 14.45)

  1. Leigh Halfpenny (78 Caps)
  2. George North (76 Caps)
  3. Jonathan Davies (65 Caps)
  4. Hadleigh Parkes (8 Caps)
  5. Luke Morgan (*UNCAPPED)
  6. Gareth Anscombe (18 Caps)
  7. Gareth Davies (33 Davies)
  8. Nicky Smith (21 Caps)
  9. Ken Owens (57 Caps)
  10. Dillon Lewis (5 Caps)
  11. Cory Hill (18 Caps)
  12. Alun Wyn Jones (117 Caps) (CAPT)
  13. Dan Lydiate (62 Caps)
  14. Just Tipuric (57 Caps)
  15. Ross Moriarty (23 Caps)

REPLACEMENTS:

  1. Elliot Dee (10 Caps)
  2. Rob Evans (27 Caps)
  3. Leon Brown (3 Caps)
  4. Adam Beard (4 Caps)
  5. Aaron Wainwright (1 Cap)
  6. Tomos Williams (2 Caps)
  7. Jarrod Evans (UNCAPPED)
  8. Steff Evans (10 Caps)

News

Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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Walking rugby is a game for all ages and abilities

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WALKING RUGBY has taken off throughout Wales in the last 12 months and is benefitting participants in more ways than one.

The participants – male and female of all ages and abilities including one man who lost his sight 13 years ago – talk of clear benefits to their physical health and crucially, their mental health through being involved in the groups.

The number of Walking Rugby groups in Wales grew organically from two in December 2018 to 16 just twelve months later and new groups are starting up all the time.

A range of organisations from rugby clubs to charities, Health Boards and third sector bodies are seeing the benefit of the inclusive rugby format and engaging more than 300 participants on a weekly basis.
The Aneurin Bevan Mental Health unit has worked with the Dragons Community team to set up a team of their own, training weekly at Rodney Parade.

Kevin Hale, Community Support Worker for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board Forensic Psychiatry Service, who set up the Dragons NHS Walking Rugby team said, “From a mental health point of view it’s been priceless, the social benefits, in particular, are tremendous. Many of the players were very shy at the start and quite withdrawn but confidence levels and communication skills have grown massively and they have told us Walking Rugby has helped them in other areas of their lives.

“It started off as a means to get some of our service users active and also to have some social time afterwards to discuss any issues they’re having. It’s gone from strength to strength and we’ve opened up the opportunity so that anyone can join us at Rodney Parade on a Tuesday afternoon.

Christian Hyde now plays for the Dragons NHS team despite having lost his sight through diabetes.
“I played rugby from the age of 8 to 26. After losing my sight, I had to stop playing – and refereeing. You really miss being part of a rugby environment so being back involved in the game is huge for me and something I never thought I’d do.

“I’m already involved with the visually impaired rugby at Cardiff Blues but being a Dragons supporter, I’m thrilled to be able to train at Rodney Parade and to be involved in matches again like the recent festival. To have ten teams turn up shows the enjoyment we’re all having.”

Anne Jackson plays for Pontyclun Walking Rugby. She said “I’m the only woman at the club at the moment and we could do with more. It really is for everyone. It’s wonderful. It keeps you active – I’ve got fitter since playing Walking Rugby. We train twice a week on a Monday evening and Wednesday morning. We laugh most of the time, we all get on very well.”

Former Wales full-back and Cross Keys coach Morgan Stoddart coaches the Cambrian Walking Rugby group in the Rhondda. He said, “We regularly get 15 or 16 players at our twice-weekly training sessions, we had 12 teams at recent Walking Rugby festivals in Treorchy and Cambrian so it’s gaining popularity all the time.

“Quite a few of the players played rugby in their youth and others haven’t played much sport at all throughout their lives. One lady, Frances Jones, is a regular player and still going strong at 84!

“They enjoy the exercise and also the friendship and camaraderie they gain from it. I enjoy it too, it’s a real change from competitive league rugby as it’s so open to male and female players of all ages and abilities.”
While the format is fully inclusive to all ages, genders and abilities, its main appeal is to Wales’ older and socially isolated population. With more than 877 000 people over 60 in Wales (just under 30% of the population), and that figure set to rise to over one million by 2030*, social isolation and mental health issues are a real issue.

The Welsh Government Strategy for Older People in Wales (2013-2023): Living Longer, Ageing Well, states that loneliness is a real health risk – ‘the same as smoking and twice that of obesity.. that staying physically active protects mental and physical health and that older people say that if they are able to participate in social and leisure activities, they are more likely to say they feel well.’

Based on this evidence, it is no surprise that some GPs are now referring patients to Walking Rugby for the physical and social benefits it brings.

Greg Woods, WRU Enterprise Manager said: “Anyone can play Walking Rugby, whether you’re a lapsed rugby player or new to the game. It’s a social, enjoyable activity with obvious physical and mental health benefits. There is clearly a growing demand for more Walking Rugby opportunities around Wales and we are working with the current groups and a wide range of other partners to not only cater for that demand but provide support to the volunteers running the clubs and work with others to set up new outlets.”

WRU Community Director Geraint John added: “It’s exciting to see the growth of Walking Rugby and to think of its future benefits to the health and well-being of the people of Wales – both the current or recent rugby-playing population and those who could join the rugby family through the Walking Rugby format”.

If you want to start a walking rugby club, get in touch for advice and support participation@wru.wales

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