Swiss Senior Women’s XVs line-up to face Czech Republic
In 2 days, the Swiss Senior Women’s XVs will start its 2019-2020 Rugby Europe Trophy competition, away, against Czech Republic.
Many thanks to the Ovalie Chablaisienne Monthey Rugby, the Rugby Football Club Basel and the Rugby Club Avusy, and their respective women’s teams (the Mermigans, the Basel Birds and the Avusy Athenas), for welcoming our training camps and allowing the team to prepare well for this new European campaign.
It was tough to only select 23 players for this Saturday game, and it will surely be the same for the next ones. The level of Women’s Rugby in Switzerland has been increasing over the past few years, with a direct positive impact on the national teams.
Out of the 70+ players who attended a XVs national team training since June 2018, the coaches selected a 35-players training squad for this 2019-2020 season, with options for every positions. The healthy competition between players is contributing to the development and progression of the team.
The selected team which will face the Czechs reflects the strengths of the training squad. Czech Republic has been one of, if not the most frequent opponent of Switzerland since Swiss women’s national teams were created. A specific trophy, the Konektor Cup (“arguably rugby's biggest trophy!” according to ScrumQueens), is up for grab every time those countries play each other in a women’s fifteen-a-side game.
The most experienced players, such as the ‘half’s’ Fabienne Ullmann and Simone Haymoz and the forwards Angela Stadelmann, Rebecca Ellis and Geraldine Fontana, have play the Czechs many times over the years and this ‘knowledge’ will certainly benefit the team.
The re-development of the Swiss Women’s XVs team was actually initiated last season, when the Rugby Europe Women’s Trophy was re-created. The forwards Maria Sorli Rico, Oumou Barry, Juliette Pera, Anaïs Kistler, Julie Gaudin and Stephanie Klupp, as well as the backs Anne Thiebaud and Kim Andrey, played their first international XVs game(s) in Autumn 2018. The encounter with the Czechs ended up as last-minute try loss. As stated in their selection letter, the coaches know that the memory of the game will motivate them “to give Czech Republic a true idea of the Swiss standard of play, pride in the jersey and pleasure to perform”.
The close collaboration between the staffs of the Swiss Girls U18s, Senior 7s and Senior XVs squads can also be seen in the selection for this weekend.
Three former and current U18 players have joined the training squad during the summer, including Manon Meunier who will honour her first senior selection this weekend.
Charline Graf, Marina Leimgruber, Marion Ernest and Emily Marclay represented Switzerland for the first time in 7s tournaments a few months ago, and will get their first XVs cap on Saturday.
Alongside Heather Cegla, Sophie Morsher and Rebekka Hosch, whose performance with their club teams and during the trainings is rewarded.
Another ‘new-comer’ to the European scene is the coach Nick Blackwell, who will coach this blend of experience and youth (a third of the squad is less than 25 years old) with Emmanuel Revert.
Nicole Gerber-Imsand, who was the ‘lieutenant’ of seasoned captain Sabrina Walti last year, will lead the team on Saturday, supported by the experienced Rahel Bosshard as vice-captain.
The loyal supporters of the team might notice that the name of long-serving players do not appear on the below list. Tribute to Esther Duss and Claire Pagnot, inspiring players who recently announced their international retirement, leaving behind a great legacy. Thank you also to Sabrina Walti, kept away from the pitch because of an injury since May, for her years as leading by example captain. Wishing her, as well as Lalline Da Silva and Selina Fux, a prompt recovery.
And to you, Swiss Women’s Rugby fans: you can watch our game in Brno (12:00 local time) on . And we count on you support in Yverdon on the 23rd of November for our game against Finland!