It’s been a busy few months for Cardiff Blues players representing their respective national sides over the last few months. Altogether we saw 19 players head off and play in all corners of the globe, find out how they got on below.
Of the seven players selected in Warren Gatland’s initial squad for the Six Nations, only two made a consistent impact on the matchday 23.
Josh Navidi built on his form in the Autumn Internationals, becoming a key man in the highly competitive arena of the Welsh back row. Starting four out of five games at openside, the flanker came fourth in the Six Nations tackle stats as he earned plaudits from fans and pundits alike. A memorable tournament from the Dreads of Destruction.
Meanwhile Gareth Anscombe also had his share of the good reviews on the back of a game changing switch to fly-half in the second half of Wales’ defeat to England at Twickenham. On the back of that he was preferred to Rhys Patchell on the bench against Ireland, and again beat the Scarlet to the starting 10 jersey in the win over Italy.
That victory over Italy also saw two other Cardiff Blues players given Six Nations game time, as Seb Davies and Ellis Jenkins came off the bench at the Millennium Stadium. Although their outings were only fleeting this season, their time will come as starters for Wales in the coming years.
Unfortunately there was no game time for Alex Cuthbert, who picked up an injury in Team Wales camp right at the start of the tournament, or for Dillon Lewis or Tomos Williams, who were not selected for the matchday 23.
Cardiff Blues also had Welsh representation in the Women’s Six Nations this season, with Rhiannon Parker and Hannah Bluck winning caps in the first two rounds of the competition.
Katie Jenkins was a non-playing member of the squad who was named as a ‘development player’ getting experience in and around the national setup, and with Cardiff Blues Women securing second place in the Women’s regional competition, hopefully there will be more representation from the club next season.
Captain America himself, Blaine Scully, was able to lead the USA Eagles on two occasions during the Americas Rugby Championship this season.
Playing on the wing both times, he captained the USA to wins over Chile and an Argentinian XV, as his national side went on to win the tournament with a 100% record.
Tighthead prop Anton Peikrishvili added two caps to his Georgia tally during the 2018 Rugby Europe Championship, as he came off the bench against Germany, before starting against Russia, grabbing a try in each game.
Perhaps the best experience for the Georgian though was packing down against England in a live training exercise. That will no doubt be a good learning curve for the prop.
As ever in an U20 Six Nations campaign, head coach Jason Strange took the opportunity to have a look at a number of players in preparation for this summer’s Junior World Championship. As such, plenty of Cardiff Blues players got game time at national age grade level.
Rhys Carre was a standout player once again, bringing size and power to the loosehead jersey, often packing down with hooker Iestyn Harris, who played in all five games in his first year at U20 level.
Owen Lloyd, Alun Lawrence and James Botham were all regular names on the teamsheet either in the second or back row, with all making regular Premiership appearances this season as well.
Unfortunately Dane Blacker found himself ruled out of the U20 Six Nations by injury, but Ben Thomas and Ben Jones each featured at fly-half throughout the tournament, while Max Llewelyn and Daf Smith each made their Wales U20 debuts in the outside backs.
There have been three stops on the HSBC World Sevens Series over the last few months, with Harri Millard involved in all as Wales played in Sydney, Hamilton and Las Vegas.
Cameron Lewis joined him in the first two of those, while Daf Smith will fly out with him to Hong Kong this weekend as the majority of the regular Wales 7s squad are in Australia for the Commonwealth Games.
Congratulations to all Cardiff Blues players representing the club in national setups across the World, here’s to an ever increasing number of representatives over the next few years!