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'Women's RWC 2025 is our dream': Spain's Laura Delgado ready for Wales play-off

By Martyn Thomas
GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Gloucester-Hartpury's Laura Delgado during the Allianz Premier 15s Final match between Gloucester-Hartpury and Exeter Chiefs Women at Kingsholm Stadium on June 24, 2023 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

As Gloucester-Hartpury completed their stunning comeback victory in Saturday’s Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) final, the Cherry and Whites were cheered on every step of the way by Laura Delgado.


Watching on from a training camp in Madrid, the prop – affectionately known as ‘Bimba’ – would have been particularly happy to see her housemate, Sisilia Tuipulotu get her hands on the trophy for a second successive year.

“She’s like my sister, to be honest,” Delgado tells RugbyPass from Spain. “I love her, and I want the best for her.”

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But there will be no room for sentiment at Cardiff Arms Park this Saturday, when Delgado leads Las Leonas into battle against a Wales team featuring up to nine of her Gloucester-Hartpury team-mates.

Delgado, who started the 2023 final victory against Exeter Chiefs, made 13 appearances in Gloucester-Hartpury’s championship-retaining season but took the decision to return to Spain to concentrate on Saturday’s crucial WXV play-off last month.

On the line in the Welsh capital is not only a place in WXV 2 in South Africa this September and October but effectively Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 qualification as well. The stakes could not be higher for either team.

“I will try to stop her,” Delgado adds about a potential front-row battle with fellow tight-head Tuipulotu. “I don’t want her to be at her best against us.”

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Tuipulotu is far from the only member of Gloucester-Hartpury’s Circus troupe who the Spanish prop is determined to nullify ahead of the play-off, though.

Delgado confides that she offered to cover the cost of a well-earned post-season break for Lleucu George, as long as the Wales and Gloucester-Hartpury fly-half agreed to take it this weekend.

“I’m always joking and in one of my final training sessions before I came to Spain, I went to her and said, ‘Mate, I can pay. I think you need a holiday… on the weekend of June 29th,” she admits.

“’You decide if you want to go or not’.”

George, unsurprisingly, laughed off the proposal but she will know Delgado and her Spanish team-mates, who include another Cherry and White PWR winner in the shape of Carmen Castellucci, will be deadly serious on Saturday.


Not only would victory secure tickets to the second level of WXV, and England 2025, but it would be a considerable achievement for a team that continues to be locked out of the Women’s Six Nations party.

“For us being in the World Cup 2025 in England is our dream, is our goal,” Delgado adds. “This is the first step to achieve that for us.


“So, this is everything right now. We are not thinking about the future, the other options; we are focused on the 29th.”

Spain, who last appeared in the top tier of European women’s Test rugby in 2006, claimed their seventh successive Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title in April at a canter.

Matches against the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden do not hold much jeopardy for the team or their fans, which is why this play-off and WXV are so important to Delgado and her countrywomen.

It is also the reason Delgado recused herself from the PWR run-in to make sure she would arrive in Cardiff in the best possible shape.

“The nations that are in the Six Nations are in another situation, they have more opportunity to grow,” she explained.

“We don’t have many games like that. But that’s the reason that, for example, we wanted to do something like we did [a fortnight ago], a training camp against Canada.

“That situation made us grow. I feel that we are ready, and we can’t wait for the game, to do everything.

“To be honest, we want to achieve our goal but the important thing for us is to do everything, and we’ll see the result.”

So, would Delgado welcome a pathway back to the top table? “Definitely,” the prop says without hesitation.

“We always want to have the opportunity to be in the Six Nations because we think we’ve shown that we can do that, be a part of the Six Nations.”

Laura Delgado Women's RWC 2025 retirement quote

Regardless of the result on Saturday, it is sure to be a memorable occasion for the tight-head prop as she celebrates winning her 40th cap.

“It will be a very special moment for me… hopefully,” the 34-year-old adds. “Forty caps for Spain is a lot because, you know, we don’t have many options.

“I’ve been playing for 10 years already with Spain, so it’s a very special moment for me. I would love to do the World Cup and then retire there.

“To do this in England [would be amazing]. England is like my second home, already I have lived in England for six years.

“I played for Newcastle then Exeter and now Gloucester, so I know a lot of friends around and I feel it’s my second home.”

Victory in Cardiff on Saturday could push Delgado onto an even bigger milestone. “If everything goes well and we go to England for the World Cup,” she says, “maybe I can do the 50. That would be the best!”

The prop adds: “I can’t believe I’m doing 40 to be honest, so it means a lot to me. It’s a big recognition.

“Every time I put on the shirt is very important for me. It’s like I’m doing my work well.

“To share my passion with my friends, for my country, is why I wake up every day and I think about going to the gym, I think about eating properly and [getting] rest, to be my best.

“It’s everything in my life. Rugby is my life and the life of all my team-mates.”

Running out to win her 40th cap in one of the most famous rugby grounds in the world is a far cry from her first experience of playing the game.

Back then she was unsure of what she needed to do having been introduced to the game by some friends. By the full-time whistle, though, she had both a new passion and her ‘Bimba’ nickname.

“I didn’t know anything, to be honest, in my first game,” Delgado admits.

“I was panicking, and I asked the coach what I needed to do. He just told me, ‘Take the ball like you do in training and go forward’.

“Obviously, my natural thing was to punch everyone in front of me. I played and I had a collision with the person in front of me and the crowd started to shout, ‘Bimba! Bimba! Bimba!’

“So, from that it became my nickname.”

Delgado’s mum might not be a fan, but it is a moniker that has stuck and become something of a brand for the energetic prop.

She will hope the Arms Park crowd will be forced into similar sharp intakes of breath whenever she receives the ball this Saturday.

“We are very excited to play against them,” Delgado says. “Personally, it means a lot.

“[Nine] of the Welsh girls are in my team and I cannot wait because I love to play against my friends.

“It’s our passion. There is nothing better than playing for your country, so it’s pretty exciting.”

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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