22 Jun 2024

France, Wales women qualify for RLWC2026

Wales women created history by qualifying for their first World Cup, while France also secured a berth at RLWC2026 after the final round of European qualifying matches in Purmerend and Belgrade on Saturday, June 22. 

Tom Brindle’s Welsh side finished first in Group A after a 48-6 win against Netherlands at the RC Waterlands in Purmerend, north Amsterdam and France triumphed 58-0 over Serbia to top Group B.

The two group winners now join Australia, England, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea - the four semi-finalists at the last World Cup in England in 2022 - at RLWC2026, which will be staged in the Southern Hemisphere.

The winner of the Asia-Pacific Championships, involving Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, will also gain entry to RLWC2026, with the final berth to be determined at the 2025 World Series.  

Ireland, the Group A runner-up, will now meet Greece, the second-placed team in Group B, in a play-off for the European berth at the 2025 World Series.

The World Series will also be contested by the Asia-Pacific runner-up, the winner of the Americas Championships in Florida in November, featuring Canada, Jamaica and the United States, and the winner of a two-match series between Kenya and Nigeria.

France played in RLWC2026 but for Wales it will be their first women's World Cup   

“It’s a momentous day,” Brindle said. “We set off with a plan three years ago to get to this point and it’s a major milestone for us. To achieve such a goal and make history is fantastic, and to do it with this special group of girls is unbelievable."

Netherlands v Wales

Wales ran in 10 tries, with Cardiff Demons centre Seren Gough-Walters claiming a hat trick.

“We put ourselves under a bit of pressure with dropped balls in the early stages but responded with energy in defence and did a good job there," Brindle said.

“Ultimately it was a good team performance, we worked hard for each other and got the result we came for.”

In scorching heat in front of a healthy crowd of more than 400, Wales made the perfect start, fullback Leanne Burrnell crossing in the opening minute but the hosts dominated the opening quarter without being able to score.

Wales v Netherlands women 24

Brittony Price then broke their resolve, finishing a passing move on the left hand side and Gough-Walters capitalised on Burnell’s offload on half hour mark for her first, adding a second from close range five minutes later, Kathryn Salter successful with one conversion to make it 18-0 at the break.

London Bronco Salter, who has played in every Wales women’s international since their formation, burrowed over for a try at the start of the second period, hooker Agnes Wood jinking her way through several defenders to score, Salter converting.

Gough-Walters completed her hat trick on the right edge shortly afterwards, youngster Sylvie Moelee dashing down the wing for a well-deserved try for the Netherlands in response which Kaylee Geerlings converted.

Burnell completed her brace, with ten minutes to go Hannah Jones finished a move on the right side and, fittingly, the final word went to Wales skipper Bethan Dainton whose long range effort just beat the final whistle, Burnell with her second conversion. 

“I could never have dreamt, when the journey started, that we would be here qualifying for a World Cup,” said Salter. “Everyone played for each other and it was a great win. The team has grown, there is competition for places, and everyone knows their role and wants to do better which has improved us as a squad.”

Netherlands are eliminated from qualifying with Ireland finishing as runners-up in the group and still in contention for qualification via the World Series repechage.

“Where we’re at now, we can’t be anything other than proud of this group," Dames co-head coach, Matt Rigby, said.

"Only coming together in November last year, we’ve gelled really well and today was one step too far for us even though we stayed competitive for long periods.

“Credit and congratulations to Wales, they really deserve qualification and all the best to them in the Southern Hemisphere come 2026. This is only the beginning for us.”

Nicole Kennedy, Monischa Hieroms, Lisa Berding, Linneke Gevers, Hannah Van Beukering, Rixt Aerts, Hiske Blom, Sele Steenkist, Vera Van Der Zwan, Lorraine Voorbach, Carola Terlouw, Sylvie Moelee, Kaylee Geerlings. Interchanges: Dominique Velema, Claire Kennedy, Kim Dekker, Iris Hansman. 

Tries: Moelee (61); Goals: Geerlings 1/1


Leanne Burnell, Megan Whittaker, Kathryn Salter, Seren Gough-Walters, Brittony Price, Rhi Parker, Shaunni Davies, Amy Price, Jasmine Gibbons, Sara Jones, Hannah Jones, Georgia Taylor, Bethan Dainton. Interchanges: Agnes Wood, Katie Carr, Gracie Hobbs, Ffion Jenkins. 

Tries: Burnell (1, 64), Price (21), Gough-Walters (30, 35, 54), Salter (43), Wood (48), Jones (70), Dainton (78); Goals: Salter 2/7, Burnell 2/3

Referee: Geoffrey Poumes (France)

Half Time: 0-18

Serbia v France

France women overcame 38 degree heat and high humidity at the FC Radnicki Stadium in Belgrade to top Group B and qualify for their fourth World Cup.

France coach, Romain Maillot, commented: “We needed to adapt to the weather conditions but showed very well that we could.

"I'm happy because we qualified for the next World Cup, but I think we can improve a lot of things and learn from this game, but this was our primary objective and we have achieved it, I could not be happier with the girls and their application.”

The visitors got off to the perfect start, prop Perrine Monsarrat crashing over in the opening exchanges and they were well ahead at half time. Catalans centre Cristina Song-Puche posted three of their 10 tries, with Lisa Diraison landing nine of 10 goal attempts.

France v Serbia 24

The speed of winger Perle Ramazeilles and power of prop Haoua Kessely, who both crossed twice, were too much for the hosts to handle.

However, Serbia were much improved from their only previous meeting with the French and were unlucky not to register a score to illustrate that.

“I am proud of our girls who gave their best,” Serbia coach Slobodan Manak said. “We had a lot of problems before the match due to injuries, but we fought whole 80 minutes against one of the best women’s teams in Europe. Congratulations to France on the victory and qualification to the World Cup.”


Tamara Bosnjak, Teodora Micic, Sanja Starcevic, Marija Stojsic, Anastasija Karanovic, Ljiljana Bajic, Katarina Veljanovski, Natalija Simic, Natasa Kovacevic, Teodora Marin, Mihaela Markicevic, Anna Liuter, Marija Maslakovic. Interchanges: Marija Simovic, Milica Cvijetanovic, Nika Bajic, Uma Cengaj


Manon Samarra, Chahrazad Himoudi, Cristina Song-Puche, Amael Vilanove, Perle Ramazeilles, Justine Roses, Lisa Diraison, Haoua Kessely, Mahault Pommier, Perrine Monsarrat, Ines Legout, Dorine Samarra, Leila Bessahli. Interchanges: Noemie Samuel, Salome Segala, Pauline Noe, Tallis Kuresa

Tries: Monsarrat (4), Song-Puche (7, 17, 54), Kessely (11, 68), Ramazeilles (23, 38), Samarra (62), Roses (75); Goals: Diraison 9/10

Referee: Jaroslav Bzoch (Czechia)

Half Time: 0-34