Documentary that provides an access-all-areas look at what it takes to play rugby for the Wales women's rugby squad.
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It was invented as a game for gentlemen
and grew as a man's game.
One day, my son, you will play for Wales,
except now the daughters of Wales are doing it too.
Let's get tough, let's get tough!
Women's rugby - one day, maybe, but never in our lifetime.
Not even with a man in charge.
But it has caught on,
and in our lifetime this is going to be the next big thing.
So, with access all areas, let's join the revolution.
The Welsh women in the Six Nations.
This is their renewal of old rivalries.
At the same time, this is their dawn of rugby's new age.
The launch of the Six Nations,
as played by men and as played by women.
Every women's game is to be broadcast live for the first time.
Down the years, sons have followed fathers into the game.
Now, after a father who played for Wales comes his daughter.
Following Dad onto the field is one thing,
but going into this spotlight is another.
This is exposure and scrutiny like never before.
For the captain of Wales, who is also the daughter of coach
Rowland Phillips, it is a bit daunting.
It was quite nerve-racking, to be honest, because I'm not really
used to public speaking in front of that many cameras and interviewers.
It's a chance for me to promote women's rugby and...
Yeah, it's just great for us, great for us and great for Wales.
'I'm quite a reserved person.
'I don't speak as much as maybe other captains.
'Maybe that's something I'll learn and come into
'with more experience as being a leader.
'But I just like to perform on the pitch and hopefully that will
'inspire the rest of the team as well to follow.'
Aberavon, a world away.
Time to reflect on all that is new.
'It's a bit surreal, really. Never had this much attention before.
'Twitter at the minute has just exploded.
'I see my face everywhere, which is a bit weird, really, but, yeah,'
it's just gone a bit mad.
Which would be taxing enough,
but throw in the family connection too...
'My dad is coach. I don't get any favouritism,'
but I think because of that fact I work twice as hard as normal,
because I don't want that to be an excuse for why I'm in the squad.
'In my own time I love to come down to the beach with the dogs.
'When I'm not in training or not on game day or not away,
'it's a good chance to get out of the house and get out from
'the rugby environment, just come down and switch off.
'To come away and relax is really good,
'because when you got back into camp then
'you feel refreshed and just want to get on with it then.'
From the beach to the Barn.
It will be three, two, one.
On the one, jump.
The Welsh Rugby Union's National Centre of Excellence.
The squad of 48 put through their first fitness test of 2017.
Where we sit at the moment is the attitude of wanting to win
and wanting to improve - I want to beat,
I want to get selected -
combined with the ability to play within a team.
And players who showed that level of hunger,
that level of desire, are normally the ones that will come through.
Six weeks of this.
The squad for the Six Nations will then be announced.
There will be a cut, 48 reduced to 32.
'I'm really nervous but I'm a bit excited as well.
'I'm just going to give it my all.
'To get into this squad would be amazing.
I've been trying for two years now'
and I haven't had a sniff, but this would be amazing.
'Six Nations is coming up and is just round the corner
'and I haven't had my cap for Wales yet,'
so it's a massive day for me and all the other girls as well, because
there's so much competition at the moment for everyone, every position.
Everyone is fighting for their positions.
University student Jasmine Joyce.
And sports development officer Jessica Cavanaugh-Williams.
They've never played a Six Nations game.
They know better than anyone how tough it is to make the squad.
Two years ago I was hoping to get selected and didn't know
whether I was going to or not and kind of...
It was posted online and my name wasn't on it and I was like...
I was gutted.
It was tough, not being selected last year
after putting all the hours in.
I was devastated, to be honest with you.
I had a few weeks' break, no rugby, no nothing,
and then I thought to myself, "I'm not giving up.
"I'm going to go again," and that's what I did.
I got fitter, I got stronger.
There are full-time professional players in the women's game,
but not here.
The Blaenau Ffestiniog player is not yet one of them.
This is old school devotion.
We've been living on the farm now for four years.
It's hard, you know, travelling four hours to get to training,
do a training session and then travel four hours back
and then do a shift at work the morning after.
People ask me all the time, "Oh, would you move to Cardiff?"
I'm like, "No, I always like to come home."
See, there's nothing will beat all this there.
Jasmine, from Pembrokeshire, and a student at Cardiff Met University,
had a taste of the New World at the sevens in Rio.
It's amazing to actually say that I've gone to an Olympic Games
to represent team GB.
To actually just put on the jersey and kind of...
Obviously the first time I went on I caught the ball and scored
and then, actually looking up and seeing just everyone there,
it was amazing.
Now I get the opportunity to show the coaches what I'm capable of
and hopefully show all the other players as well that
I'm not just a 7s player, I'm also a 15s player.
If I was to make the squad this year, it would mean
everything to me because, basically,
I live to do that at the moment.
It might be a long shot, it might not,
but I'm just going to give it my all and try my best, and I'd absolutely
love to represent Wales in the 15s game as well, and to kind of
put on a jersey and get my first cap would be another dream come true.
One last challenge for the squad of hopefuls, the beep test.
Go, go, go!
The idea is to go from cone to cone and beat the beep.
Turn, shoulders round!
And the beep gets faster every time.
Dig in, let's get tough! Let's get tough!
Go, go, go! Go, Adi!
Go on, Gemma! Go on, Gemma!
Go on, Mel, dig in!
Well, it's finally over!
No, it's OK. We have to do it, don't we?
Obviously the Six Nations is coming up now and it's a hard time for us.
We've all gone up in our scores, even, like, in the gym
or squats bench, everyone's improved and especially fitness.
We were all so incredible then, all gone up three, four scores.
'We have to keep progressing this team,
'we have to keep pushing the team,
'we have to keep testing the players and we have to push them'
to the limit because a lot of them probably don't know
where their limit is, anyway,
so we have to keep pushing it until we find it.
As part of the pushing process towards final selection,
Coach Rowland has arranged a pair of away international friendlies.
First destination - Spain.
A trip to Benidorm to face Las Leonas, the Lionesses,
the Spanish national team.
These warm-up games, you can never be too sure how they're going to go,
but we know that Spain are very fast, very fit.
We're not necessarily going in and paying too much attention
to what they do and how to play against them.
It's more about us.
Selected for the squad in Spain - Jasmine and Jessica.
This is about more than playing well in this warm-up.
'Reputations don't mean anything.
'The only thing that matters is how you play, how you perform,
'how you behave, how professional you are,
'your discipline - all the values are more important, really.
'It doesn't make a difference how old you are,'
how many caps you've got, if you haven't got any caps, whatever,
if you apply yourself correctly, there will always be an opportunity.
Whatever the bigger picture, playing well here won't do any harm.
A counterattack and Kerin Lake crossing for the game's first score.
And then Jess Kavanagh-Williams.
Wales 19 points clear at half-time.
Jasmine's moment, onto the field in the second half.
What she brings to the game is pace -
the first of her two tries in Wales's 39 point victory.
I haven't played 15s at this level yet
so I was just going out there just to enjoy it, no pressure.
Just go out there, enjoy every second of it
and that's what I did and came away
with an all right performance and two tries.
Fingers crossed, hopefully I've done enough.
Back home and back to business.
The second game of the Six Nations
will be played here in Cardiff against England.
England, full-time professionals, against Wales, who are not.
There is money in the women's game here, but not much.
The profile is higher than ever, the rewards more modest.
Essentially, Wales are amateur.
An accommodation between work and sport must be found.
'There's definitely a massive link between my lecturing job and rugby.
'Lecturing is definitely a professional job.
'You have to be a little bit of a role model in class.
'I like to think that my students look up to me
'and definitely on the rugby pitch,
'I feel that professionalism is so important.'
Dyddgu Hywel, full-time lecturer in education studies at Cardiff Met -
the day job.
And the night shift - training.
'Juggling lecture prep and squad sessions takes a lot of my time.
'Obviously, I have to be organised,'
when I'm going to get my gym sessions in,
make sure that I've got time for food shopping, nutrition
'and then obviously we've got training
'every night with the Welsh squad.
'Rugby is definitely a competitive sport,
'but I can bring that competitive aspect into my work.
'You know, you have to challenge yourself,
'you have to be the best that you can in work and in rugby.
'Teaching is definitely a really rewarding job
'and I really enjoy my career.
'Maybe I could develop as a player
'and be a better player if I could concentrate full-time on rugby,
'but at the moment, I enjoy having the balance
'of being in work all day
'and then enjoying my best hobby as a rugby player after work.'
Ie, cyswllt llygad...
Are we ready?
From Benidorm straight back to the Vale of Glamorgan.
More of this -
the slog before the cut to 32.
Preparation for the second friendly away in Ireland.
Who will play?
Time to shake things up a little.
WOMEN SHOUT ENCOURAGEMENT
There's some girls that went to Spain that probably
aren't in this squad and some girls are here that didn't come to Spain
so we're giving everybody the opportunity,
but it's about performing under pressure now
and delivering the job when they need to.
This preparation for the Six Nations, it's just key.
It is tense times.
You're not guaranteed to be on the sheet itself
so every single training session, it is a competition and, you know,
we are really competitive with each other as a squad, but we need that.
We thrive off that so, you know,
your position's not safe so you do have to turn up
day in, day out, not just to the matches, like Spain, like Ireland,
but every single training session and outside of that
when we're not together as a squad.
We're off to Dublin, warm-up match before...
We've got two weeks before Six Nations.
We've been a few times to Ireland now.
They've become a lot more competitive
in the last four, five years. We were quite close,
but they're probably just nudging us a little bit now recently
so it'll be a big challenge for us this weekend, but also, like,
probably the best prep we can get for the Six Nations, so...
Off on their travels again,
the process of gelling players from many places.
Rachel Taylor is from this place, Colwyn Bay.
'When I come back here, it does feel really safe.
'Even stuff like the smell of the changing room,
'it smells like Colwyn Bay Rugby Club.
'It's recognisable to me, I guess,
'and that kind of nostalgic feel about it
'cos it has been part of my life for so long.
'I got into rugby through my dad and my brother.
'My mum worked nights in casualty, which meant she slept on a Sunday.
'It meant that I came down here with my dad and my brother
'and I can remember sitting down here,
'watching them play and one of the coaches at the time said,
you know, "Rather than just sitting watching your brother,
"why don't you come and have a game?"
So many Sundays later,
a decade since her first appearance for Wales,
Rachel has won over 50 caps.
In 2007, I had my first cap against Canada. It was an amazing experience.
It was really nice just to stand up and sing the anthem,
and seeing your parents, and it does mean a lot, you know, like,
my dad drove an awful long way when I was younger just so that I could have an opportunity to play rugby,
and hopefully given them a little bit back when they see you there.
We choose this as a choice...
..but when you look back and you think about how much you have ultimately sacrificed, it's huge.
You do give up quite a lot of your life for it.
Maybe the older group remember that more than the younger ones now.
What they're sacrificing is their time with their loved ones,
which is probably the biggest thing, I think, that we all sacrifice.
I think that's probably the bigger thing as I've got older is,
just realising how important it is to be around my friends and my family,
but, yeah, I can't really imagine rugby not being in my life.
Downtime before the game at Donnybrook in Dublin.
Hi, Mum! Hi, Dad!
I've arrived safe in Ireland.
Hi, I'm Shona, I'm 24 and currently single!
Er, I'm actually 25!
Oh, did I mention tanning?!
A team meeting the day before the game.
Some of the players are late.
..People are just trawling in, disturbing the meeting.
-Girls, I don't want you to be shocked, I don't want you to be
you have to switch on. I'm asking for about half an hour of your time.
Focus on this. We should have started by now. OK?
-And then you can
-to bed and do what you want. Do you understand?
We've really got to pull this together.
It's not good enough, yeah? Yeah?
We're playing against one of the best teams in the world tomorrow.
-If we want to get up with the best, we've got to
-prepare for it.
And on that note...
Donnybrook the next day.
On the terraces,
Rachel Taylor's mum and dad.
Watching with perhaps a more critical eye, Coach Rowland.
And his mood? Not about to brighten.
Ireland go into a quick lead through Nora Stapleton.
And there's more to come. Claire Molloy, clean through.
Hm. But hang on! What's this?
Shona Powell Hughes finishing this off.
And then an Irish sin-binning.
Wales within two points.
The conversion to level the scores.
Not Elinor Snowsill's finest.
14-12 to Ireland at half-time.
Pause for thought at the interval.
I've grown to be able to cope with pressure. You know, 34 caps down,
you do start to get used to the environment and used to the pressure
but it can still get to you know, you know, if you make a mistake on the pitch or something,
there's a natural inclination to start worrying about that mistake and thinking about it,
but you've just got to have that mental strength to think,
"Right, now, I'm going to box that, move on and make sure the next thing I do is positive."
The search for players who thrive on pressure.
It's, you know, the position that controls the game.
You've got to read the game halfway through
and you're really the one that implements the tactics that the coaches want you to play with.
Added on top of that is the pressure of being a kicker.
It's a skill to be able to take a step back from the aggression and the speed of the game,
and calm yourself down and go through your processes
and execute that kind of skill,
but, you know, I love a bit of pressure, so...
My PE teacher at school, Catrin Edwards, she played rugby for Wales,
and thankfully started a rugby team,
so I played a little bit of that, but that was only touch rugby.
The thought of contact absolutely terrified me.
It's a strange progression from novice, unsure about rugby's more physical charms,
to being in control.
I was so terrifed of getting tackled, I was very fast and I went through a whole session
without being tackled, which wasn't so good when it came to the match on Sunday!
I got on the pitch, walked round for a bit, got tackled
and I was just like, "Oh, my God! That hurts so much!"
Threw the ball - don't know where that went - I just lay on the floor waiting for the physio to come over,
and someone ran past and was like, "El, come on, get up. It was just a tackle!
"There's nothing wrong with you!" So I think it was a very quick lesson.
And now, eight years in the international game, wearer of the number 10 shirt of Wales.
For me, playing rugby, it adds to my life, because it gives me such strong friendships,
cos the bonds you create with your team-mates are like nothing else.
When you go out there and put your body on the line and go to that dark place with them,
it just bonds you like nothing else can,
and for me, that's something that you just...
you can't really get many other places.
The second half at Donnybrook.
A little reshuffle.
And a different Wales.
A stronger Wales.
CHEERING AND SHOUTING
Into the last quarter, penalty to Wales.
Don't think of that dodgy conversion.
What dodgy conversion?!
Pressure. Love pressure!
Your abilities come through.
There was only one team in that second half, OK?
You were in a good place. You were in a really good place.
The way you were playing was excellent, right?
-Come on, girls!
Not everyone can stay in this good place.
The time has come.
Coach Rowland makes the cut,
and announces the Six Nations squad of 32.
We are confident and clear in our selection.
It's always pretty special to be named in the squad.
You can't take your position for granted, especially this year, we've had new coaches in,
so it's all been a little bit uncertain,
but to be named in the squad was a huge honour.
With so much competition coming through,
you can never bank your space in the squad,
so it was a nice little cheeky surprise for a Monday.
And what about Jasmine and Jess? Have they made it?
Feeling brilliant. Opened the e-mail.
Butterflies and then saw my name there
and just still buzzing today.
I was delighted. I was absolutely amazed I was in the squad.
Now I've finally got my chance to prove to people
I can play 15s as well
as 7s and hopefully I manage to get my first cap now.
'There had been a really hard game at the weekend and
'a lot of us were sore because we had put our bodies on the line
'and that was our last chance to go,
'"Right, we've got to hold our hands up for a shirt."
'So I was aching,'
but when that e-mail came through, it made all those
aches and pains worth it.
Gemma's combination of job and rugby is like no other.
'Being in the army and playing rugby, I think, go hand in hand.
'The skill sets in both, whether it be working as part of a team,
'leadership, communication, putting faith in your training whether
'it be on the field of play or a battlefield,
'the two have definitely benefitted me.
'I feel a lot of similarities when I put on my army uniform
'and when I put on a Welsh jersey or a Welsh strip.
'Because you know that you are doing something that is
'bigger than just you.
'It is an overwhelming sense of pride, but also honour.
'And I don't think there's any feeling like it.'
But no question of which came first
for Captain Rowland of the Royal Artillery.
'For the first two years, I wasn't able to play rugby because'
for my year at Sandhurst, it's very intensive and any injury will
set you back in terms of training.
'I came straight out of Sandhurst and went straight into
'pre-deployment training and then deployed to Afghanistan.
'And then was out there for seven months so, again,
'couldn't play rugby.
'But came back and got into the army rugby team, got picked up by
'Dragons, my regional team and from there got selected for Wales.
'To make the Six Nations squad is always a huge,
'overwhelming achievement because it'
makes all of that hard work
and all of those sacrifices that we make worth it.
'And then on the grander scale, there's always the pride and
'honour that's associated with being part of something where you
'are representing your nation.'
The first game of the Six Nations,
Wales away in Jesi near San Marino to face Italy.
Italy have beaten Wales in their last three encounters.
The night before the game, nobody's late for the team meeting.
This is it now, this is sort of crunch time.
'Bit of nerves in there, but mainly excitement.'
'It's come around pretty quick, but couldn't have asked for
'a better preparation so hopefully it will be'
a good start to the campaign for us.
Jess is selected on the bench.
The shirt first, one step closer to a first cap.
Look at the camera there.
'Finally got the shirt in my hand'
and just don't know what to say, really.
Emotions flying everywhere and just so happy.
The Stadio Comunale in Jesi.
Eight minutes into the game, that trusty left boot.
Snowsill puts it away.
Those trusty forwards.
This time, it's Caryl Thomas and that is the first try.
The referee's arm is in the air.
Italy looking for a try here.
Italy are right back in it.
Wales taking a narrow 10-8 lead into the second half.
Out to Dyddgu Hywel. Steps off the left foot and over she goes.
The power of the captain.
Carys Phillips, the captain, breaks loose. Again the try.
Wales want to make a substitution here.
And the first cap for Jess.
A first win of the campaign.
Finally got my first cap.
'Just so happy and what can I say?
'Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now.'
It's just out of this world.
# And if it's quite all right I need you baby
# I love you, baby
# Trust in me when I say. #
Game two, home at the Arms Park in Cardiff.
The big one.
'England, all they play is professional now
'so we know they're going to be tough and big and strong
'and we want to play against the best to be the best.
'Walking down that tunnel leading the girls out is going to be
'a big moment for me.
'I'm really looking forward to it. There's nerves, there's excitement.
'I'm just ready for it now and the girls are looking forward.'
Carys Phillips in the here and now.
This is charged with what has gone before.
'Every time you pull on the red jersey, you feel like you have
'the history of a nation on your shoulders.'
'To come here and play in Cardiff Arms Park, it will be an
'absolutely buzzing weekend in Cardiff and we're going to
'want to capitalise on that feeling in the city centre.'
'To beat England would be the pinnacle of the tournament.
'We just want to go out there and prove we can compete with one
'of the best teams in the world.'
'It's going to be a massive game and I cannot wait.'
These are pioneer days too.
This is for the future.
Wales Women: Inside the Scrum is an access all areas look at what it takes to play rugby for the Wales women rugby squad. February 11th 2017 is a big day in the Welsh women's rugby calendar. For the first time in the game's history, Wales' women will be televised live on the BBC as they play their first home game of the 2017 Six Nations Championship at their new home ground - Cardiff Arms Park.
But this isn't just any old game. To add to the pressure, the Welsh women's squad are playing against their bitter rivals - England, in what is set to become their biggest grudge match of the season. Women's rugby is on the cusp of change.
To celebrate this turning point in the game, Wales Women: Inside the Scrum goes behind the scenes of the Wales women squad to shine a light on them as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations championship. Getting up close and personal, we follow the women as they battle for a coveted place on the Wales Six Nations' team. Using key characters, we reflect on the challenges faced by the women, both past and present, as they play rugby for their country.