Sunday, 3 May 2015

Rugby Development at Bedwas RFC

For 125 years rugby football has been played at the former mining village of Bedwas. Currently the club is unique in the Welsh Premiership Division. It is playing to a highly competitive standard in Wales’ top league while remaining true to its roots as a “community club”, owned and run by its members and serving the whole rugby community from Under 7s upwards and can even boast a newly formed girls Under 15 side. 

According to Club Chairman, Mark Lewis, the club is now embarking on an exciting new phase in its rugby development. “For many years” he explains, “there was a natural rugby progression in our villages. Basic skills were learned pre school on streets and in welfare grounds. Secondary schools often had a rugby, “ethos,” and an enthusiastic, “rugby master,” who provided a natural pathway, developing players so the school had a 1st XV playing locally and up to County competition standard”. 

“These were the players,” says Mark, “who came to clubs such as Bedwas to form a strong Youth XV and moved seamlessly through their rugby career to First team rugby and beyond” 

The changes brought about from educational reform through to the advent of professional and semi professional rugby has, unfortunately, undermined this successful natural transition. The ambition in Bedwas RFC is not to recreate the conditions of a now by- gone age but to respond to the challenges the game currently faces in today’s social and economic climate. 

“If a Club like Bedwas is to succeed” says Mark “it isn’t good enough just to play competitive Premiership rugby – even though that is important both for players and spectators and to provide role models for aspiring youngsters”. 

“We have to be more hands on” he says “in promoting the game at all levels and encouraging the local talent through our own Club’s pathway so that local players can compete to play at their own local Clubs highest levels” 

The strategy developed by Bedwas relies heavily on forging strong partnerships with the games’ natural allies. The WRU’s new emphasis on structured pathways for new players and the re establishment of a vigorous rugby tradition at school level, through the programme of schools rugby officers, provided an excellent opportunity. The Club itself has strong “community” credentials, an excellent and highly motivated coaching team at all levels and an open and progressive management culture, willing and able to respond to the new challenge. Finally, at Bedwas High School, there was a further willing ally in the shape of Head teacher, Peter Ward, himself a former Premiership standard player who was anxious to re build Bedwas as “rugby school” 

“This summer” says Mark,” we will be celebrating our 125 year anniversary, but perhaps more importantly helping to put in place 3 key building blocks which will help us to meet our ambition of securing our future by nurturing our local talent”. 

“With the help of WRU and school funding, a new School Rugby Officer will be appointed at Bedwas High charged with promoting rugby in school and strengthening the flow to Bedwas RFC, of players of all ages up to and including Under 18s” 

“Secondly the very well respected and knowledgeable former Head of PE at Bedwas High, Mr Jimmy Stokes, will be joining the team at Bedwas with a mandate to support the development of coaching and playing at all Under 18 levels.” 

“Thirdly, the Club with the generous support of a regeneration grant from Caerphilly County will be investing in a state of the art fitness suite at Bedwas High for the benefit of players, school and community.” Mark concludes, “ the physical demands of the modern game require higher standards of fitness and strength than ever before” 

“If we are to compete with the best, we must be as prepared as the best and these new developments will help to bring that about,”

Friday, 1 May 2015

Glamorgan Wanderers 2nds 43 St Joseph's (Cardiff) 2nds 20

Glamorgan Wanderers captured the Worthington East District Seconds Cup by defeating St Joseph's 43-20 in a spirited match at Taffs Well RFC.


The Wanderers took full advantage of a strong wind and slight slope in the first half to build up a 29-3 lead scoring five tries in the process.

It was one-way traffic as their powerful pack denied their opponents any good ball and No 8 Owain Thomas, lock Aaron Canter, prop Joe Russell, scrum half Rhys Griffiths and flanker Evan Phillips scored tries and centre Mike Hurley converted two against a Scott Taylor penalty. 


St Joseph's flanker Jason Cox then scored a solo try but the Wanderers added further tries by Lewis Wilkie and Rhys Force with Hurley converting both, though brave St Joseph's rallied and wing Will Rowlands and centre Aiden O'Dare touched down plus a conversion by Taylor.


Wanderers skipper Liam Mackay received the cup from former Cardiff centre Steve Crandon, now an accounts manager with Molson Coors.

Merthyr face Bargoed in the Worthington Mid District Cup Final


The WORTHINGTON Mid District Cup Final will be played between Merthyr and Bargoed at Sardis Road, Pontypridd on Wednesday, May 20 and promises to be one of the best-ever matches in this fine competition's history.

In the semi-finals Merthyr defeated Nelson by 49-21 at Abercynon, while Bargoed beat Division One East champions Penallta by 31-0 at Caerphilly.

The final will be more exciting following Merthyr's shock win at Bargoed in the Championship that was the only league loss of the season thus far by Bargoed, who have already won that title.

Pembrokeshire goes “Off the Beaten Track” with new cycling CX Sportive


Cyclists from throughout the UK will descend on Pembrokeshire this autumn for one of Wales’ most exciting cycling CX Sportive events.

Off The Beaten Track Pembrokeshire will provide top flight and cycling enthusiasts with an unrivalled route, scenery and challenges on its 40 miles in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on the 4th October 2015.
Organisers expect over 500 entries for the event which will be based at Bluestone National Park Resort, a luxury short break destination near Narberth, and will include a time trial a day earlier on 3rd October.

The route will take riders on and off road through the surrounding countryside already favoured by both enthusiast and pro-cyclists for its range of terrain and home to the Tour of Pembrokeshire which was staged in the county last month.

"Off The Beaten Track Pembrokeshire is a true crossover sportive in every way," said event organiser, Peter Walker.

"Riders will be heading down hard-packed surfaces one minute, hitting asphalt sections, some of which will be closed, the next and then diving off road to tackle hard climbs. It's a perfect CX Sportive event that will test all abilities."

The 45 mile circular route will start and finish at Bluestone National Park Resort and circumnavigate Llys y Fran Reservoir.

A time trial will be held the day before to categorise riders for the main event. The TT will take place around Bluestone which is acting as the event HQ as well as offering accommodation to competitors, family and supporters over the weekend.

Bluestone is no stranger to cycling events, having hosted several training camps for Olympic gold medal cyclist, Geraint Thomas.

County Council has already backed the event which has attracted sponsors including Brooks England, Sabbath Bicycles, Cyclist Magazine and Bluestone National Park Resort.

"Pembrokeshire has already proved itself as a cycling destination for sporting events and for leisure, so it's great to be involved in Off The Beaten Track," said James McNamara, Leisure Services Manager at Bluestone. 

"We're anticipating a lot of interest locally and from throughout the UK as events such as CX Sportives continue to grow in popularity. It'll attract a large number of visitors to the area, helping boost the local economy, while promoting the area as a superb destination for cycling and the great outdoors."

He added: "We're perfectly positioned to host such an event in Pembrokeshire and particularly here at Bluestone with the facilities and accommodation we can offer competitors and their supporters.


"These include the Well Spa Retreat which is perfect for the pre and post event treatments, sauna and steam rooms and hydrotherapy pool, in addition to the restaurants, Blue Lagoon water park and Adventure Centre."

Details and applications for the Off The Beaten Track CX Sportive can be found at www.offthebeatentrackpembrokeshire.co.uk. Information for competitors, family and friends about accommodation and facilities at Bluestone can be found at www.bluestonewales.com.

Only those booked into Bluestone will have access to its all-weather facilities, including the Blue Lagoon water park, Adventure Centre, Well Spa Retreat, restaurants, pub and activities.






Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tregaron Three West C Champions


Tregaron skipper Gethin Jones receives the SSE SWALEC Division 3 West C championship trophy from WRU Director Anthony John.
"We are all absolutely delighted by the team's success and everyone is looking forward to playing in Division 2 West next season," said Tregaron secretary, Delyth Morgan.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

WELSHMAN MORRIS IMPRESSES DURING CRUCIAL GP3 TEST IN BARCELONA

Status Grand Prix driver Seb Morris sees himself as a “dark horse” ahead of the opening round of the GP3 Series season in Barcelona next month, following a consistently competitive maiden outing at the Spanish track this week – where the Welshman notably topped the times on the first afternoon.
 
Getting the latest chapter in his rapidly accelerating racing career off to an impressive start, the Tag Heuer, Serge DeNimes and Oxford Vaughan brand ambassador has enjoyed a series of strong tests during the last month or so and continued in that vein during the final two day pre-season outing.
 
Arriving at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday, 22nd April, the 19-year-old from Marford initially familiarised himself with the track before working on a good balance with his car throughout the first morning. Seb then laid down a strong marker in the afternoon by topping the timesheets.
 
Focusing on qualifying performance in today’s first session, Seb ended the run little more than 0.3 seconds shy of the top three as he continued to rack-up important mileage ahead of his competitive debut on the FIA Formula One World Championship support package just over a fortnight from now.
 
Turning attention to race set-up on the final afternoon, the MSA Team UK and FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy member delivered consistent pace during two full distance race simulations to conclude a very productive pre-season in a positive frame of mind.
 
“It’s been a good couple of days and it was obviously nice to be quickest yesterday afternoon”, he reflected, “This morning we were only 0.3 seconds outside the top three in the qualifying simulations, so that’s all positive, and then we didn’t go for times this afternoon as we focused on two full race runs.
 
“I’m fairly confident for the first race weekend, there’s no pressure on me – I’m a bit of a dark horse really. I’ve still got a lot to learn with the Pirelli tyres and the set-ups, but I’d like to try and break into the top 10 in qualifying and then build from there. The atmosphere in the team is good, everyone is working well together, so I can’t wait to be back in Barcelona for the first race.”
 
Rounds one and two of the GP3 Series season will take place over the weekend 9th/10th May at the Circuit de Catalunya. Following free practice on Friday, 8th May, qualifying will take place at 08.45 (UK time) on Saturday, 9th May, with round one of the season getting underway at 16.20 (UK time).
 
On Sunday, 10th May, round two will begin at 08.25 (UK time) – both races will be screened live on Sky Sports F1 with live timing at http://marc-orme.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=39d82f3c8fc78c72f4fbaf5ac&id=914040b7c3&e=ed4afa51ce

Friday, 24 April 2015

WORTHINGTON RUGBY UNION MID DISTRICT CUP

The Worthington Mid District rugby final will be played at Sardis Road, Pontypridd on Wednesday, May 20.
 
Merthyr have qualified after a 49-21 they dispatched Nelson at Y Parc, Abercynon and await the winners of the Bargoed v Penallta semi-final, which will be played on Wednesday, April 29 at Virginia Park, Caerphilly.
 
Meanwhile, Caerphilly themselves have qualified for the Worthington Mid District Bowl final at Abercwmboi on Friday, May 15, after defeating Tylorstown in a thrilling encounter by 35-22.
 
In the Bowl final, the Cheesemen do not yet know their opponents as the game between Brecon and Porth Harlequins will be played at Abercwmboi on Thursday, April 30.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

WEEKEND OF CHAMPIONS – FIVE TEAMS CROWNED WINNERS OF SWALEC LEAGUES

Five teams were celebrating being crowned champions in the SSE SWALEC Rugby Leagues and were all presented with their trophies on Saturday 18 April. 

Despite losing at home to Penarth, Brecon RFC were presented with their SSE SWALEC Division 2 East Central trophy following the match. They clinched the title last weekend when then beat Pontyclun 22-18 away from home.


Undefeated Llanidloes RFC have sealed promotion after winning the Division 3 North title. The club took the spoils in a one-sided 97-8 victory against Holyhead RFC to expand their lead at the top of the league to 12 points over their nearest rivals Llangollen.


Former Pontypool player Chris Macey led his hometown club Caerleon RFC to the SSE SWALEC Division 3 East A league in his first season back at the club as captain. The Gwent team picked up another crowd-pleasing 72-6 victory, this time against Rhymney RFC, in front of their home supporters.


Meanwhile, Pontyberem RFC became champions of the SSE SWALEC Division 3 West A trophy after a 65-3 victory against rock-bottom Cefneithin RFC. Pontyberem won all but one of their 18 league games played this season and secured an impressive 82 points.



Finally, Fishguard & Goodwick RFC passed the 100 point mark against bottom club Pembroke Dock Harlequins on the day they also lifted the SSE SWALEC Division 3 West B trophy. Their league win was sealed in a rampant 108-16 victory.


WRU Chairman Gareth Davies said: “Congratulations to the five teams on a fantastic achievement. They have all consistently played good quality rugby throughout the season, losing very few games and definitely deserved to win. I wish them well in their new division next season.”

SSE SWALEC is the national community partner of the Welsh Rugby Union and sponsors both the SSE SWALEC Leagues and SSE SWALEC Cup, Plate and Bowl competitions.

Colin Banks, Acting Head of Sponsorship at SSE SWALEC, added: “Our strong partnership with the WRU and its clubs goes back a number of years and we’re very pleased to be doing more for grassroots rugby in Wales through our sponsorship of the SSE SWALEC Leagues. It has been another strong season for Welsh rugby as a whole and we have seen some impressive performances at club level. Many congratulations to the new champions on claiming their respective titles.”

Ystrad clinch Silver Ball final spot


Maesteg 13 Ystrad Rhondda 25
(at the Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon)

In an oustanding match that saw 80 minutes of first-class action. Ystrad Rhondda survived second-half pressure by Maesteg to go into the Silver Ball final against Penallta that will be played at Aberavon on Saturday, May 23 (2.30pm).
Both clubs must be applauded for the way they played and though Ystrad Rhondda scored 4-1 on tries, the gulf was certainly not that wide.
Powerful right wing Gerwyn Davies was the Ystrad danger-man, but the experience of David Gratton at full back made him clearly the man of the match.
Maesteg also had their runners with Lawrence Howley spraying out the passes and Sam Griffiths running splendidly, first at centre, then at wing, while both scrum halves - Jay Harris and Kieron John - were lively.
Up front Maesteg's young Cameron O'Sullivan is certainly a find, while Scott Hicks started at No 8 and then switched to centre effectively and veteran replacements Rob Hill and Karl Hocking stood out.
Ystrad also had a good, mobile pack with Nathan Hughes and Matthew Llewellyn excelling.
A wonderful try in the seventh minute saw Davies score and though Rhys Truelove missed the conversion and a penalty he did convert Matthew Llewellyn's try for a 12-0 lead.
The wily Gratton scored the third try after only 27 minutes but Maesteg clawed their way back and full back Ed Howley struck two fine penalties before the interval when Ystrad Rhondda led 17-6.
A Truelove penalty opened the second half and amazingly it was an hour before Maesteg scored a try after several near misses.
The experienced Hocking made a run and his wonderful pass opened the way for lock Mark Hillier-Rees to streak away and Ed Howley converted.
It looked as if Maesteg must pull level but win Davies collected on halfway and raced away to just make the corner for the try that settled the Ystrad Rhondda victory.
Scorers.
Ystrad Rhondda - Tries: G Davies 2, M Llewellyn, D Gratton. Con: R Truelove. Pen: R Truelove.
Maesteg - Try: M Hillier-Rees. Con: E Howley. Pens: E Howley 2.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Rhiwbina's John Humphreys receives AWS Award

Photo courtesy of Fido Pics

I  recently had the pleasure of presenting Rhiwbina's John Humphreys with the All Wales Sport Special Recognition Award, congratulations John! Next stop on the awards tour is Ystradgynlais this Saturday April 25.

Football brings Cardiff communities together

Forget the Six Nations and the FA Cup final, the sporting event of the season is the Cardiff Cohesion Community Cup (CCCC’15), to be held at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on April 30 2015.  
Yemeni players celebrate their victory 
The community initiative, created by local community organisation, the Horn Development Association (HDA) and supported by South Wales Police, has brought together six Cardiff-based black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to battle it out in a series of football matches for the opportunity to play against a team of local community police officers and ex professional footballers. 
The objective of the CCCC’15 tournament is to encourage stronger relationships and build closer communities amongst key ethnic minority groups across the city. 
Gareth Evans, Deputy to the Local Policing Inspector, South Wales Police said: “A sporting occasion such as this provides a great opportunity for us to interact with local BME communities and forge good relations with them. Furthermore it also serves to enhance the wider community cohesion by bringing together a number of differing nationalities who will compete on friendly terms on the field of play.”

A number of local businesses and charities, including Brace’s Bread and Sported are working with the HDA and South Wales Police in supporting CCCC’15, with the goal of showing cultural clashes the red card. 
Scott Richardson, Brace’s Bread, said; “Brace’s Bread prides itself on working in the heart of the community, therefore this project is a match made in heaven. The Semi Finals were very exciting and we are anticipating that the final match on the 30th of April will be even more so. Each team has put their all into the tournament and we want the people of Cardiff to come along on the day and show their support.”
Richard Thomas, Wales Manager at Sport for Development charity, Sported, said: “What’s so fantastic about the Cardiff Community Cohesion Cup is that it celebrates the city’s diversity. Few things can break down social and cultural barriers as well as sport, so the fact that this competition will bring together young people of different nationalities is going to be brilliant to see. It’s a great initiative and one that Sported is proud to support.”
Teams from the Yemeni and Kurdish community competed in the Cohesion Cup finals on April 14 with Yemeni taking the title with a 6-1 win. They will now play in the super cup at the Millennium Stadium against a team of ex-professional footballers which include Lee Trundle, Derek Brazil, Lee Jarman, Damon Searle and Roger Gibbins and key members of the South Wales Police.
Mohamed Molibany of HDA, said: “As part of HDA’s everyday role, we offer support and create opportunities for people from BME groups across Cardiff to better their lives - this event is just one of these ways and the sense of community spirit amongst the players has been tremendous.”
To find out more about CCCC’15 and how to get free tickets to the final at the Millennium Stadium, like Cardiff Community Cohesion Cup on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cardiffcommunitycohesioncup.
And if you are a local business interested in helping fund the event, visit www.spacehive.com/cardiffcommunitycohesioncup

Glynneath capture Worthington Neath and District (H G Lewis) Cup

WORTHINGTON NEATH AND DISTRICT CUP FINAL
 
GLYNNEATH 53 BRITON FERRY 16
Report by Howard Evans
 
An outstanding game of rugby saw Glynneath pull clear in the final quarter to capture the Worthington Neath and District (H G Lewis) Cup for the fourth year in succession.

Glynneath celebrate Cup success 

It not only produced thrilling running and tackling by both Glynneath and their game opponents Briton Ferry, but saw two Glynneath players stand out as future stars.

Scrum half Shaun Tennant  scored 28 points and 20-years-old centre Lewis Cox ran in two outstanding tries, while Ferry’s Jonathan Davies, playing on his home pitch, scored all his side’s 16 points.

Cox, a flanker, but playing in the centre, looks to have the makings of a splendid player and was given the Man of the Match award. 

He said: “I have only just returned to rugby after having being in the Ospreys under-16s but then giving the game up. I really am a forward but I enjoyed myself in the backs today.”

Man of the Match Lewis Cox in action

The game was full of strong running, rucking and tackling with referee Harvey Smith (Neath) splendid in the way he held control, while Briton Ferry never gave in, despite suffering several injuries, though the power of the Glynneath pack finally told.

Tennant showed his fine kicking prowess as early as the second  minute with a huge penalty, but  Davies levelled before a mighty Glynneath drive saw fly half Matthew Llewellyn score and Tennant convert.

Back came Ferry as Davies intercepted and ran in for a try that he goaled and then added a penalty as the home side led 13-10.

Before the interval, Tennant kicked a penalty and converted an outstanding solo try by Cox for a 20-13 lead.

Despite Glynneath winning the second half by 33-3, it was not totally one-sided with lock Bobby Jones and No 8 Matthew C.Davies in fine form for the winners and No 8 Chris Burgess and prop Adam Robinson standing out for Ferry.

Tries followed by Davies, Tennant , lively centre Dylan Parks, Tennant again and Cox, with the latter having another disallowed. Tennant  converted four  with Jonathan Davies placing a penalty for Briton Ferry.

Tina Tew, escorted by Wales District officials,  presented the cup to the hard-working Glynneath captain, flanker Matthew Davies (not the try-scorer), who had just failed to get on the scoreboard himself.

This is the first of several competitions sponsored by Worthington in South Wales and the West of England.

Scorers.
Glynneath – Tries: S Tennant 2, L Cox 2, M C Davies, D Parks, M Llewellyn. Cons: S Tennant 6. Pens: S Tennant 2. 
Briton Ferry – Try: J Davies. Con: J Davies. Pens: J Davies 3.