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Cunningham excited for crowd return as Wales confirm USA warm-up

Ioan Cunningham

Ioan Cunningham believes the return of crowds to Cardiff Arms Park will provide a massive boost to Wales in their upcoming TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign.

Wales finished sixth in the 2021 Championship after losing to Scotland in the fifth/sixth-place play-off, having come third in Pool B in the one-off round-robin format.

But Wales have three home games to look forward to in this year’s edition, hosting Scotland on Saturday, April 2, France on Friday, April 22 and then Italy on Saturday, April 30.

WRU to offer first contracts to female players

And Cunningham is confident the return of fans will make all the difference to his team.

He said: “The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is going to be huge this year. It will be the first Six Nations Championship with crowds in two years.

“That will make a huge difference to all the teams and we can’t wait to welcome a crowd to Cardiff Arms Park for our three home games.

Ioan Cunningham

“As a group, we are building each week, now that we are spending more time together on and off the pitch. We can’t wait to show what we are capable of on the back of the historic announcement.”

Much has changed for Wales since their last Championship campaign, with 12 Wales Women players taking up full-time contracts in early January.

They now train at the National Centre of Excellence between two and four days a week, where they are joined weekly by 11 players on retainer contracts.

Wales will ramp up their preparations for the 2022 Championship with a warm-up game against a USA Select XV on March 12 at Parc y Scarlets – and Cunningham said the contest will provide a perfect litmus test for his side.

“USA are sixth in the world and have been consistently one of the biggest threats in world rugby in recent times,” Cunningham added.

“They will be putting a side together largely from players involved in the Allianz Premier 15s, they play a high standard of rugby and will test us with their athletic ability and power game which is exactly what we need ahead of the Six Nations.

“We are looking forward to playing that game at Parc y Scarlets. It’s a great facility and hopefully will allow new supporters to watch us grow. Playing Ireland away is a tough challenge to kick-off the Six Nations so this match against the USA Select squad will be vital for us.”