Army Rugby and Royal Artillery duo Bdr Bethan Dainton and Capt Gemma Rowland will be on international duty this weekend having been named among the replacements for Wales’s Six Nations opener against France in Vannes.

For both players this will be their first Six Nations outings for a number of years, Capt Rowland’s last coming in March 2017 and Bdr Dainton’s a year earlier.

Wales may have finished bottom of the table in 2020 and face the daunting trip to last season’s runners-up, but new head coach Warren Abrahams is looking forward to the challenge.

“We’re excited to get on the pitch and show what we can do,” he said. “The team is selected on form following some impressive performances in the Allianz Premier 15s.

“The team comes first. Whether you are starting, on the bench, or in the wider squad, every player knows what they need to do to ensure the team is in the best possible place for those 80 minutes.”

France versus Wales kicks off at 20:00 on Saturday, April 3rd, with live coverage on the BBC iPlayer.

Also in cross-border competition this weekend is LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni (Scots DG), who starts for Bath in their Challenge Cup trip to Italian outfit Zebre.

This is the first meeting between the two clubs, who go head-to-head in the knockout stages of the European competition. Bath travel to Parma with an outstanding record against Italian opposition, winning all 10 of their previous matches by an average of 44 points.

Bath also have a strong record in the Challenge Cup, winning it in 2008 and reaching three more finals. Their last time in the competition was in 2016/17, when they reached the semi-finals.

This game kicks off at 15:00 on Friday, April 2nd, with live coverage on BT Sport 3.

As Bedford Blues and the RFU Championship competition take a break this weekend, dual registered Cpl Lewis Bean (Rifles) is named on the bench for Northampton Saints for their away trip v Dragons in the last 16 of the European Challenge Cup.

The match kicks off at 1730hrs at Rodney Parade on Saturday, April 3rd.

With Pte Ratu ‘Siva’ Naulago (Yorks) unavailable for Bristol and and the bulk of the Premier 15s clubs having a weekend off, the final match of the weekend to include an Army player is Wasps’ trip to DMP Durham Sharks, who are making up their game in hand on the rest of the Premier 15s.

Usually selected in the back row for Wasps, SSgt Sarah Mitchelson (RLC) makes a temporary return to inside centre, the position she more frequently played for the Army.  In their trip north, Wasps are seeking to entrench their third place in the table against the league’s bottom side. But if there’s anyone we know who has the experience and skills to be able to adapt it is SSgt Mitchelson!

Kick off on Saturday is at 14:00.

Words © Chris Wearmouth, Header and Featured Image © Alligin Photography, Neil Kennedy

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