SIONED HARRIES was grateful if anyone other than friends and family showed up when she started playing for Wales.
So now that nearly 5,000 people are turning up at the Cardiff Arms Park, she admits it is quite overwhelming how far women’s rugby has come.
At 33, Harries is one of the most experienced players in the Wales team, having made her debut all the way back in 2010.
She came off the bench early in a dominating 31-5 win over Ireland last weekend and has been promoted to the starting line-up for today’s game against Scotland, who were beaten 58-7 by England in their opening fixture.
And with interest in the sport as great as it has ever been, Harries knows the team cannot disappoint.
She said: “It’s often said that you are inspiring the next generation but you don’t believe it until you actually see it.
“I think with the support we are having and the investment, the record crowd at the Arms Park and the way the kids and the parents ran on to the pitch afterwards, it’s starting to become a reality for us where we can actually see it.
“To see the outcome is actually quite special, it’s quite overwhelming for a lot of us. When I started, there was barely any advertisement, there was not much media interest.
“There wasn’t that platform with regards to promoting the game.
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“The people on the side were family and friends. To see the way it has grown is quite special.”
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Wales women’s rugby has been transformed over the last 18 months, with professional contracts introduced in 2022, starting with 12 and increasing to 25 before this year’s TikTok Women’s Six Nations.
Back-row forward Harries was among those offered a contract but wanted to continue her teaching career.
An agreement with her school, Ysgol Gymraeg Ystalyfera Bro Dur, meant that she was able to compete at the World Cup in New Zealand last year, including a dramatic 18-15 win over Scotland.
Scrum-half Keira Bevan kicked an 86th-minute penalty to win that game and Harries knows the result still rankles as it allowed Wales to reach the quarter-finals at the Scots’ expense.
She added: “They are disappointed and felt deserving of winning that game in the World Cup, they will want revenge and are no doubt still bitter about that.”
- For all the latest TikTok Women’s Six Nations news, information, and details on how to watch the Championship, visit womens.sixnationsrugby.com