New Crawshays women's team a 'stepping stone' for Wales - Carys Phillips

Wales captain Carys Phillips celebrates scoring during the 2018 autumn series win over South Africa
Wales captain Carys Phillips celebrates scoring during the 2018 autumn series win over South Africa

Wales captain Carys Phillips says the launch of a Crawshays women's team can provide a "stepping stone" to prepare rising talent to play for Wales.

Crawshays were formed in 1922 and have been dubbed 'the Welsh Barbarians'.

The Barbarians launched their women's team in 2017-18 and played their first international sides this year against USA and England, and Phillips is excited Crawshays is following suit.

"It's definitely going to be a great tool in Welsh rugby," Phillips said.

"It's important to have that stepping stone in preparing players [to become] internationals.

"I'm excited it's the first women's fixture as well that's going to be played against us."

Wales will play Spain away on 2 November and Crawshays on 23 November before facing Barbarians in Cardiff on 30 November, with two more fixtures to be confirmed.

The game against Barbarians will form a double-header with the men's team, which will see Warren Gatland coach the invitational side in Wayne Pivac's first Wales match in charge after the World Cup in Japan.

"To have two home games against Crawshays and the Baa-Baas just adds to the excitement to what is already a great autumn," hooker Phillip told BBC Sport Wales.

"With the history of playing those two clubs we're really looking forward to that now."

The Crawshays side will be coached jointly by Wales greats Liza Burgess and Rachel Taylor, with Taylor also set to coach the Barbarians forwards the following week.

The pair aim to draw their squad from the international game, as the Barbarians do, but hope to attract players with Welsh connections, as well as giving a platform to rising Welsh talent.

"That game is going to be phenomenal as well, with up-and-coming [Welsh players] or ex-internationals. It's great to have a Welsh Baa-Baas playing against us," Phillips said.

"I think that's another stepping stone within Welsh rugby, for everyone to see there's a lot of Welsh talent and to have that fixture is going to be pivotal now going forward within the Welsh game.

"That's phenomenal - we're just as excited to play against Crawshays as we are the Baa-Baas."

Phillips believes the increase in autumn games not only mirrors the growing strength of women's rugby, but also gives them better preparation for the following Six Nations campaign in February.

"Two years ago we had Scotland and the Armed Forces. Last year we had the full hit of South Africa, Canada and Hong Kong," said the 26-year-old.

"So we're definitely going in the right direction and I know last season's autumn paved the way for a decent Six Nations, and this year having those fixtures and these tough, tough games is definitely another step in the right direction in where we want to go as a Welsh women's team."

Jasmine Joyce, Elinor Snowsill and Alisha Butchers all played for the Barbarians against England at Twickenham last weekend, and Phillips says their time among the Baa-Baas will feed back into Wales.

"For them to have that experience is fantastic and also they can bring back those experiences when they come in for Wales," Phillips added.

"For us to hear those stories and how other people - other nations - lead up to games, how they train or how they do this or that is fantastic for us."

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