WRU chief Martyn Phillips eyes Wales A return in 2017-18

Gareth Thomas (L) scored a try in a team led by Mefin Davies (R) when Wales A last played in 2002
Gareth Thomas (L) scored the winning try in a team led by Mefin Davies (R) when Wales A last played in 2002

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips expects Wales A to return during the 2017-18 season.

Former Wales head coach Mike Ruddock took charge of the Wales A team the last time they played, a 30-23 win over Scotland in 2002.

The WRU failed in a bid to resurrect the second string in 2016-17, but Phillips is confident for next term.

"That will happen next year and we're just trying to finalise a fixture now," he said.

Phillips made his comment as an experimental Wales team warmed up for their forthcoming tour Tests against Tonga and Samoa with an 88-19 win over Welsh Premiership team RGC 1404. on Friday, 2 June.

He added: "It's probably only one [game] a year but exactly for the sort of players we're seeing tonight.

"This is probably the World Cup squad for 2023 so it's all about depth and building for the future."

Wales Under-20s have been the nations' second string, with certain games designated as "capture" matches for players' international eligibility.

But World Rugby has declared that after 1 January, 2018, nations can no longer use U20 age grade teams to claim rights over players' future loyalties.

In May, the global governing body's Test eligibility revamp stated: "Unions may no longer nominate their U20s team as their next senior national representative team (effective 1 January, 2018)."

The return of a Wales second string has been possible since August, 2014 when the WRU and the nation's four professional regions signed a six-year, £60m deal to end a bitter, long-running dispute.

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