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Wales v England: TikTok Women’s Six Nations Preview

Around tea time on Saturday, Wales will hope to thank the day Sisilia Tuipulotu gave up netball.

The Six Nations title contenders will have played England, the champions, at Cardiff Arms Park by then and Tuipulotu may just have underlined her growing reputation as the breakthrough player of the tournament.

Lil’ Sis has been in barnstorming form for Wales so far in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations – scoring three tries in the victories over Ireland and Scotland that have put Wales on the threshold of the Triple Crown.

It was only 12 months ago that 19-year-old Tuipulotu was converted from a second row to a prop, and only three years ago that she was purely a netball player.

But time moves fast in rugby these days and now the Gloucester-Hartpury forward will be the player her team look to for inspiration as they chase their first win over the Red Roses since 2015.

“I played netball from the age of eight to 16,” says Tuipulotu.

“Then, I decided to try rugby when I went to college. I tried it and loved it and have loved it ever since. It’s the sport for me, especially now I’ve made my way into the front row.

“The games have gone really well so far, we are loving playing in front of big crowds and we just want to keep it going.”

The crowds have been a feature of Wales’ upturn and captain Hannah Jones hopes the biggest crowd in the history of women’s rugby in Wales will be enough to inspire her team to victory.

The Grand Slam champions come to Cardiff Arms Park, where the game is a sell-out with just over 8,000 tickets sold.

That should ensure the volume is up to the max as Jones’ team bid to earn themselves a Triple Crown.

The 26-year-old skipper says: “Even with the crowd against Ireland it was pretty loud and encouraging, so to have double the amount now is crazy.

“Hopefully we enjoy that and we thrive off that vibe around the stadium.

“I’ve been in the squad for about eight years now and every year just gets bigger and bigger.

“You get noticed a little more when you’re just going shopping and stuff like that. Obviously, we’ve been shown on the TV a bit more, media has definitely improved, so girls can definitely look up to us and want to be rugby players for their careers now, which is brilliant.”

Wales beat Ireland 31-5, then ground out a 34-22 victory up in Scotland, but England – looking for their fifth successive title – are a different proposition.

The Red Roses crushed Scotland 58-7 and crumbled the Italians, 68-5. But their players have spent the week talking about their respect for the current Welsh revival.

Their coach Simon Middleton says: “Playing Wales in Wales is always a really passionate affair.

“The confidence they will have on their home turf will be amplified by the crowd. As a team they’ll feel very together, very connected and strong.

“I think, whereas before we’ve been able to overpower them, that won’t be there to the extent  it has been previously.”

While Wales Women undoubtedly take centre stage this weekend, the men’s regional teams still have much to resolve in the United Rugby Championship.

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