Shona Powell-Hughes has established herself as one of the star names in the Wales Women’s squad since her Women’s Six Nations debut back in 2011.
And the No.8 is now looking to inspire the next generation of female rugby stars as a full-time WRU Game Changer for Women and Girls in South West Wales.
The 27-year-old burst onto the international scene with her debut in the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup against South Africa.
Her star showings gave the Skewen RFC and Ospreys ace the Young Player of the year award during the 2011 Championship.
And since then, she has gone on to win 46 caps for her country, including their historic win over reigning world champions England back in 2015.
Born in Bridgend, the back-row forward has become a cornerstone for Wales and is hoping there is much more to come from her native south west Wales.
Established last year, the Game Changers scheme was designed to radically increase and improve rugby opportunities across the grassroots end of the game for women and girls.
As the latest recruit, Powell-Hughes will with all areas of the WRU rugby department along with clubs, schools and hub officers to increase the number of women and girls regularly involved in Welsh rugby – and improve the rugby products on offer for the Welsh female population.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” she said.
“It’s such an exciting time for women and girls in Welsh rugby and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with everyone in the game to take women’s rugby to the next level.
“Having been a player for such a long time, I can use that perspective to help grow playing numbers and opportunities but I’m also passionate about the other opportunities for women – from coaching and refereeing, to a career in rugby through WRU apprenticeships and media roles.
“Rugby is very powerful, it can really break down barriers. Like many teenagers, I thought I knew best aged 13 or 14 and as a result, I missed quite a lot of education. Rugby gave me a second chance at life and I want to use that experience to help others”
Working with another Wales legend in Ryan Jones and Charlotte Wathan, Women and Girls’ Engagement Manager, Powell-Hughes is confident she can have a real impact.
“We are all role models in different ways. Hopefully, I can help girls to turn their dreams into realistic ambitions,” she added.
“Rugby kept me on the straight and narrow and hopefully, I can help others in the same way. Rugby saved me in many ways. It gave me a sense of belonging, built my confidence, gave me something to be proud of. I found my identity through rugby and hopefully I can share and impart some of what rugby can do for people on and off the field.
“I’m really excited about working with an amazing team under Ryan Jones and Charlotte Wathan. While I know I’m going to learn so much in this new role, I’m also confident we are going to put women and girls’ rugby in Wales in a better place.”
Wathan added: “The women and girls’ Game Changers have made a significant impact on the awareness of female participation in Welsh rugby since their appointment 18 months ago. They have energised and focused the rugby family to shine a light on the value of providing new, fit-for-purpose opportunities for women and girls, not only in playing rugby but in other roles too.