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Six Nations has been a hugely positive experience for Bethan Lewis

Six Nations has been a hugely positive experience for Bethan Lewis
The 2019 Six Nations has been a roller coaster ride for the Wales Women side. From having to fly into France and play the opening game on the same day as travelling, to the thrilling last gasp victory over Scotland. It’s certainly not been dull!

The performances from a young Wales side have contained plenty of character and commitment, epitomised by the young Gloucester-Hartpury forward Bethan Lewis.

Whether she’s played in her usual position of openside flanker, or packed down at number eight, her battling qualities have been to the fore and, on one occasion, she quite literally spilled blood for the cause as she refused to leave the field despite suffering a painful blow to the nose. Patched up, she was quickly back in the action.

And, as Wales prepare for their final game of the tournament, at home to Ireland, Bethan is able to reflect positively on the experience so far.

“It’s been tough at times, coming up against the likes of England and France who are professional sides and a lot of our girls hadn’t played at this level before this season. It’s taken a bit of getting used to, it’s been a steep learning curve but we feel that we’ve been improving steadily.

“Our defence in particular has been a massive part of our game, but I think we have been able to show what we can do in attack as well. We’ve been playing through our forwards, used our kicking game when we've needed to and the backs have finished off some nice moves.

“We’re definitely building week on week. We’ve quite a few youngsters in the squad, but we still have a few experienced players like Elinor Snowsill which shows the strength in depth we’re getting in the squad.”

It was certainly a tough start. The squad’s flight to Montpellier was cancelled due to adverse weather, meaning that they had to travel and play on the same day, hardly ideal preparations.

“Obviously, with travelling in the day, that was tough. No-one can plan for what happened that day when our flight was cancelled. But there’s real spirit in the camp, and having a lot of younger players in the squad has brought real energy.

“Everyone is fighting hard for their position because there’s real competition for places and, when you look back at the Scotland game when we came back to win the game, it showed real position and the fight in our game.

“When we were behind the posts after Scotland went ahead, we just talked about how it only takes a second to score a try and that there were six minutes left on the clock. We kicked to regain possession and luckily forced a knock on which allowed us to build the pressure and come away with the score.”

And, as well as the win, the match was memorable on a personal level as Bethan scored a first half try.

“It was obviously a great feeling to score a try for your country, but it was a big team effort as it has been throughout the whole campaign.

“It’s a shame that we’re not going into this weekend looking for our third win. We fought so hard against a quality side in Italy and came so close to the win. We honestly thought we’d done it when Jas (Jasmine Joyce) went over, but it wasn’t to be.

“But we’ll go out against Ireland and give it our best shot as we want to finish on a high. We’re back at home and it’s great having that home support behind you. It’s St Patrick’s weekend, so their supporters will be up for it as well. It should be a great occasion!”

A relatively unknown fact about Bethan is that she’s a multi-talented sportswoman. She’s represented Great Britain at surfing and Wales at athletics and table tennis. Fortunately, rugby won the day!

“I’ve always played rugby, alongside all the other sports that I’ve done. Whenever I wanted to try something new, my Dad was always right behind me and encouraged me to have a go.

“But rugby was always what I loved, and I think that was because of the team element. I loved being part of a team. So, that’s been the path I’ve followed.

“Family support is massive for all of us. My Dad has travelled all over the place to watch me play, from Dubai to Australia or even just playing for my local club. He was an openside so he’s taught me a few things over the years!”

[caption id="attachment_25826" align="alignnone" width="1024"]Bethan Lewis Bethan Lewis (c) Martin Bennett/ Gloucester Rugby[/caption]

Ireland is obviously the focus this week, but the Tyrrells Premier 15s returns next weekend when Gloucester-Hartpury take on Wasps Ladies at Kingsholm (Saturday 23 March, 5:20pm). It’s another big occasion and one she’s looking forward to.

“That will be a great game to come back to. It’s super exciting to be playing at Kingsholm, and we’ll hopefully get as many of the crowd as possible to stay behind after Gloucester Rugby play Wasps. It’s a big game and I’m looking forward to getting back in Cherry and White.

“Crowds are getting bigger, and it’ll be great to see that reflected at club level and see the Women’s game continue to grow.”

Wales Women v Ireland Cardiff Arms Park Sunday, 1.30pm.

Tickets available from Cardiff Blues Box Office - https://www.eticketing.co.uk/cardiffblues/Events/Index
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Kingsholm Stadium
Gloucester Rugby
Fri 2 Sep
KO 19:45
Cardiff Blues
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