Wales host Spain in crucial WXV play-off

The Guinness Women’s Six Nations side welcome the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship winners to Cardiff for a match that will determine which of the teams plays in WXV 2 and WXV 3 this September and October.

The final pieces of the WXV 2024 jigsaw will fall into place on Saturday when Wales entertain Spain at Cardiff Arms Park.

Following regional qualifying we already know the identity of the 18 teams that will compete in the second edition of WXV this September and October.

Saturday’s WXV play-off, however, will determine whether it is the hosts or Spain who compete in the second level in South Africa. The beaten team in Cardiff will take their place in WXV 3 in Dubai.


With the top six non-qualified nations at the end of WXV 2024 booking the remaining tickets to Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025, meanwhile, qualifying for WXV 2 is crucial to the teams’ hopes of appearing at the showpiece tournament in England.

Hosts Wales, who competed in the inaugural edition of WXV 1 in 2023, find themselves in the play-off having finished bottom of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 standings.

Spain earned their shot at a place in WXV 2 by winning the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship for a seventh successive time earlier this year.

Las Leonas were pipped to the inaugural WXV 3 title by Ireland, who beat them 15-13 in the decisive match in Dubai last October.

Juan González Marruecos’ side have lost just once since then – suffering defeat to South Africa by the same scoreline in March – and spent time training with a Canada Selects squad this month in preparation for the Cardiff play-off.

Spain are ranked 13th in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings, five places and 9.13 rating points beneath their hosts.

They would move above the Springbok Women and into 12th place with victory in Cardiff, a result that would drop Wales to 10th.

Ioan Cunningham’s hosts, who have won only one of their last eight matches, cannot improve on their rating or position in the rankings due to the gap between the teams before home weighting is factored in.

Despite the distance between the teams in the rankings, Spain lead their historic head to head seven victories to five, with one draw, and won the most recent meeting 29-5 in 2019.

Laura Delgado played in that match and as she prepares to come face-to-face with a number of her Gloucester-Hartpury team-mates – including housemate Sisilia Tuipulotu – she is sure Las Leonas can repeat the trick in Cardiff.

“We are focused on working together,” she said. “To be in a good position mentally for the 80 minutes, in good moments and more difficult moments. Because… [we need to] be ready in every moment.

“I’m confident that we can make a good game and win. Definitely.”

One of Delgado’s club-mates, Kate Williams, is hopeful, though, that the Wales squad’s Gloucester-Hartpury and Bristol Bears contingent can maintain their end-of-season momentum for one last match.

"Everyone is in really good spirits at the minute because both us and Bristol finished the season on a high," Williams told BBC Sport.

"We're pumping for this weekend.

"Even though our Six Nations didn't go the way that we wanted, we got through a heck of a lot of work during that, so we're just picking up on the finer details.

"We know we're a good side and we've proved it, we just need to replicate that and we'll be fine.

"We've got some really good players and once we all do our own roles, we'll do really well."

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Last updated: Jun 28, 2024, 6:18:42 AM
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