Wales women qualify for first Rugby League World Cup

Wales women created history by qualifying for their first World Cup, winning European qualifying group B after a 48-6 win against Netherlands at the RC Waterlands in Purmerend, north Amsterdam.

 

Tom Brindle’s side ran in ten tries, Cardiff Demons centre Seren Gough-Walters claiming a hat trick. “It’s a momentous day,” Brindle said. “We set off with a plan three years ago to get to this point and it’s a major milestone for us. To achieve such a goal and make history is fantastic, and to do it with this special group of girls is unbelievable.

 

“We put ourselves under a bit of pressure with dropped balls in the early stages but responded with energy in defence and did a good job there,” Brindle added. “Ultimately it was a good team performance, we worked hard for each other and got the result we came for.”

 

In scorching heat in front of a healthy crowd of over 400, Wales made the perfect start, fullback Leanne Burrnell crossing in the opening minute but the hosts dominated the opening quarter without being able to score.

 

Brittony Price then broke their resolve, finishing a passing move on the left hand side and Gough-Walters capitalised on Burnell’s offload on half hour mark for her first, adding a second from close range five minutes later, Kathryn Salter successful with one conversion to make it 18-0 at the break.

 

London Bronco Salter, who has played in every Wales women’s international since their formation, burrowed over for a try at the start of the second period, hooker Agnes Wood jinking her way through several defenders to score, Salter converting.

 

Gough-Walters completed her hat trick on the right edge shortly afterwards, youngster Sylvie Moelee dashing down the wing for a well-deserved try for the Netherlands in response which Kaylee Geerlings converted.

 

Burnell completed her brace, with ten minutes to go Hannah Jones finished a move on the right side and, fittingly, the final word went to Wales skipper Bethan Dainton whose long range effort just beat the final whistle, Burnell with her second conversion.

“I could never have dreamt, when the journey started, that we would be here qualifying for a World Cup,” said Salter. “Everyone played for each other and it was a great win. The team has grown, there is competition for places, and everyone knows their role and wants to do better which has improved us as a squad.”

 

Netherlands are eliminated from qualifying with Ireland finishing as runners-up in the group and still in contention for qualification via the World Series repechage. Dames co-head coach, Matt Rigby, noted: “Where we’re at now, we can’t be anything other than proud of this group. Only coming together in November last year, we’ve gelled really well and today was one step too far for us even though we stayed competitive for long periods.

 

“Credit and congratulations to Wales, they really deserve qualification and all the best to them in the southern hemisphere come 2026. This is only the beginning for us.”

 

NETHERLANDS 6

Nicole Kennedy, Monischa Hieroms, Lisa Berding, Linneke Gevers, Hannah Van Beukering, Rixt Aerts, Hiske Blom, Sele Steenkist, Vera Van Der Zwan, Lorraine Voorbach, Carola Terlouw, Sylvie Moelee, Kaylee Geerlings

Interchanges: Dominique Velema, Claire Kennedy, Kim Dekker, Iris Hansman.

 

Tries: Moelee (61)

Goals: Geerlings 1/1

 

WALES 48

Leanne Burnell, Megan Whittaker, Kathryn Salter, Seren Gough-Walters, Brittony Price, Rhi Parker, Shaunni Davies, Amy Price, Jasmine Gibbons, Sara Jones, Hannah Jones, Georgia Taylor, Bethan Dainton Interchanges: Agnes Wood, Katie Carr, Gracie Hobbs, Ffion Jenkins.

 

Tries: Burnell (1, 64), Price (21), Gough-Walters (30, 35, 54), Salter (43), Wood (48), Jones (70), Dainton (78)

Goals: Salter 2/7, Burnell 2/3

 

Referee: Geoffrey Poumes (France)

 

Half Time: 0-18