Women's Six Nations Credit: Welsh Rugby Union
Wales is set to face Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday where they hope to build on last year’s third-place finish

Wales hope for another record-breaking crowd as interest grows in Women’s Six Nations

Higher profile matches, the impact of professional contracts and growing interest in women’s sports have added to the excitement

WALES are hoping for another record-breaking crowd at Cardiff Arms Park when the TikTok Women’s Six Nations campaign kicks off on March 25 against Ireland.

The previous record crowd of 4,875 was for last year’s match against Scotland which took place at the 12,500 capacity Arms Park stadium.

In 2022, the tournament attracted its biggest crowds ever with an attendance of 6,113 for Ireland v Wales in Dublin and 3,998 for Scotland v England in Edinburgh meaning that three of the six stadiums had record-breaking crowds.

This mounting excitement has been helped by the fact all teams now have professional contracts for players, and from last year the women’s matches have been scheduled away from the men’s giving them a higher profile.

The success of the England women’s football team has helped too.

Last year’s tournament marked Wales’ best finish in 13 years when they came in third following a 8-10 defeat against Italy in the final round.

The squad will be hoping to top last year’s success; however, they’re currently predicted to come in at fourth place, a far cry from their second-place finishes in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

England are looking to achieve their fourth tournament win in a row this year at the 22nd edition of the championship, which began back in 1995.

More professional contracts

For the first time, all teams in the 2023 tournament will be offering contracts to most of their players. Wales introduced 12 full-time contracts at the start of 2022. In January this was extended by the Welsh Rugby Union to 25.

Likewise, Ireland, Scotland and Italy have only been giving contracts to players in the past year while England and France, which have well-established contracts, have won every tournament since 2016.

The hope is that these contracts will strengthen the teams as well as inspire a new generation of young girls to become professional rugby players.

“Our aim this year will be to continue to build on the improvements we made in 2022.

“We’ve made progress but we are very aware that all the other nations are also developing with contracts and full-time programmes so it’s vital to keep moving forward,” said head coach Ioan Cunningham.

The contracts also aim to increase the spotlight on the game by boosting the professionalism of the sport and meaning that players will be paid for their participation.

Cardiff Arms Park Credit: Walt Jabsco via Flickr

Growth in women’s rugby

In 2022, the tournament attracted its biggest audience ever with a 70% increase in match attendance and a 135% increase in TV ratings compared to the previous year.

Women’s sport in general attracted 15.1m viewers in the UK during first three months of 2022, according to Women’s Sport Trust.

Last year’s TikTok Six Nations attracted 5.6bn views on social media to #SixNationsRugby with 108.7m views on TikTok.

The growing popularity of the Women’s Six Nations has been attributed to several factors – mainly the fact that it’s now played in its own window, separate from the men’s.

The change was introduced last year by Six Nations chief executive, Ben Morel, and is likely to remain in place following its introduction in 2022.

It means that rugby fans no longer have to choose between matches as kick-off times would often clash.

Women’s rugby is also attracting new audiences who aren’t necessarily interested in men’s rugby.

Data from Women’s Sport Trust suggested that there were one million fans who watched at least three minutes of Women’s Six Nations live but not the men’s tournament in 2022.

The squad

While some familiar faces such as Alex Callender, Sioned Harries and Lisa Neumann will be returning this year, the squad will also welcome six uncapped players.

Head coach Ioan Cunningham announced on Thursday who will be taking on Ireland over the weekend:


15. Courtney Keight

14. Lisa Neumann

13. Hannah Jones (captain)

12. Kerin Lake

11. Carys Williams-Morris

10. Elinor Snowsill

9. Keira Bevan


1. Gwenllian Pyrs

2. Kelsey Jones

3. Sisilia Tuipulotu

4. Abbie Fleming

5. Gwen Crabb

6. Georgia Evans

7. Alex Callender

8. Bethan Lewis

The game will be one of two taking place at Cardiff Arms Park with Wales also set to face England there on April 15.

  • Wales v Ireland will be shown on BBC Wales and BBC iPlayer on March 25 with a 2:15 pm kick-off
  • See the fixtures here