Worcester Valkyries pair Megan Varley and Eloise Hayward are set to represent their country on Wednesday evening against Emerging Wales Women at the Principality Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm).
England Women Under 18 Talent Development Group (TDG) will face Emerging Wales Women in a friendly fixture with 25 players who have been involved in the Under 18 Talent Development Group throughout the season – an important part of the England Women’s performance pathway which identifies and supports young emerging talent at Under 18 level.
Centre Varley has been one of Valkyries’ shining lights this season, starting all 18 of her side’s Tyrrells Premier 15s matches in 2017/18, while promising young scrum-half Hayward featured six times for Worcester in the recent campaign.
Lead Coach and RFU Women’s Performance Pathway Officer Alex Austerberry said: “The opportunity to play against the Emerging Wales Women side is an exciting one for this age-group. It’s imperative that we continue to create quality playing opportunities for emerging talent as they develop.
“For the TDG to play a fixture at the Principality, one of the biggest stadiums in the UK, is an invaluable learning opportunity that will bring new challenges for this group as they come together for their first fixture as a playing squad this season.”
The TDG works closely with regional constituent bodies and the Centres of Excellence from August to May each season. The RFU performance pathway team identifies emerging talent, inviting players to take part in intensive training camps where they are assessed not only by on-field performance but also on leadership, organisation and problem-solving skill and ability.
The TDG evolves throughout the year enabling new players, who may not have originally been identified at the start of the season, but have been performing consistently well to be invited into the programme. The TDG runs a series of contact days throughout the season to provide ongoing training and support for selected players. This year contact days more than doubled to 28 days across the season.
England Women U18 Talent Development Group squad to play Wales
15 Jessica Cooksey (Winscombe)
14 Jodie Ounsley (Sandal)
13 Megan Varley (Worcester Valkyries)
12 Cara Wardle (Saracens Women)
11 Merryn Doidge (Bristol Ladies)
10 Ellie Green (Harlequins Ladies)
9 Jessica Weaver (Newark)
1 Detysha Harper (Waterloo)
2 Connie Powell (Gloucester-Hartpury Womens RFC)
3 Jessica Thomas (Bristol Ladies)
4 Louisa Ward (Pulborough)
5 Iona Antwis (Winscombe)
6 Jasmine Hazell (Castleford)
7 Bronwen Jackson-Turner (Saracens Women)
8 Ebony Jefferies (Bristol Ladies)
16 Ellie Pigford (Hordon and Peterlee)
17 Bryony Field (West Park Leeds)
18 Florence Long (Winscombe)
19 Teya Ashworth (Aylsford Bulls)
20 Anya Richmond (Burnley)
21 Poppy Wheway (Basingstoke)
22 Eloise Hayward (Worcester Valkyries)
23 Lauren Fisher (Pulborough)
24 Kayleigh Waller (Loughborough)
25 Emma Sing (Crediton)