Wednesday, 23 July 2014

TOP COACHES MOVE ON

Two of the top coaches at the Golf Union of Wales are to move on to new roles in the game, stepping down after helping to develop talented Welsh players and bringing considerable success.
Wales Ladies coach Jeremy Bennett is to become the national coach of England Under 18 boys, while South Wales coach John Peters is to take up the director of golf role at Southerndown Golf Club where he is currently the head professional.
Bennett helped steer Wales Ladies to three Home International triumphs in his seven years in the role, after Wales had won the title only one other time in more than 100 years. He will move job after this year's Home Internationals in September.
We still have a lot to play for and I would like to end on a high at the World Championships and Home Internationals,” said the former coach of Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer. “Seven years has been a good run and there have been a lot of successes with the group, so hopefully I will be leaving things in a better position than when I came.
I have enjoyed every minute with Wales, bringing tears of joy and creating history which is my main goal.
They have been a great group of players and it was nice to see more success with Amy Boulden finishing fourth in Germany (on the Ladies European Tour) at the weekend.
They have been unbeaten through the last two Home Internationals, winning once and unlucky the other time, so they have punched above their weight which is good for a small country.
I will always have fond memories every time I cross the bridge into Wales.
I am looking forward to the new challenge with the England Under 18's. There will be more players to work with, who will be thinking of getting onto the European Tour and winning events.
England have only produced two Major winners in the last 44 years, while Ireland have had four, and there are fewer English players on the European Tour than ten years ago.
The next top player will come through the system, particularly at Under 18's level where you can still influence their approach and work ethic.”
Peters will leave his role in appropriate fashion, as part of the coaching team for Wales at the Men's Home Internationals which are being held at Southerndown this year.
It will include the majority of the team he led to the European Division Two title in the Czech Republic, one of the many highlights of his time with Wales.
I have been involved with the coaching set up in Wales for 12 years and as a player before that, so it has been great to serve my country and golf union as a coach,” said Peters.
I first had Rhys Pugh in my Under 12's group when he was aged 10, and most recently when he was part of the Wales team in the Czech Republic. It has been great to watch his success and to have been involved with so many good players.
We had a great two days of preparation before heading to the Czech Republic, building team morale, and the way they went about things on and off the course was really impressive – winning the stroke play by 19 shots and then going on to take the title in the match play stages.
At the same time it is a bit of a dream to have this new role at Southerndown, where I came through as a player and assistant professional, before moving on to St Mary's and Machynys and then coming back.
It is a great challenge to be in charge of everything at the club and I am looking forward to it.
We have just hosted qualifying for the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl and the players have been wholly complimentary about everything here, they cannot speak highly enough about the course.
Helping with the coaching at the Home Internationals will be a fitting way to finish with the Golf Union of Wales, but of course I will carry on my own coaching.”
Golf Union of Wales Director of Performance Ben Waterhouse added, “We would like to thank both Jeremy and John for their services to Welsh golf.
They have both achieved great success and helped to bring out the talent in a lot of young players.
Jeremy's contribution to three Home International wins speaks for itself, while John played a crucial role in helping the Wales men's team back into the top flight of European golf.
While both will be missed, we have to plan ahead and we are fortunate that there are many coaches in Wales coming up through the system who are ready to step up.”

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

John Kear appointed as new Wales Rugby League head coach

Wales Rugby League have appointed the experienced former England and France coach John Kear as their new head coach.

The 59-year old will take charge of Wales for the first time this autumn when they will take on France, Scotland and Ireland in the European Championships.

He was coach of the England team in the 2000 World Cup leading them to the semi-finals and of France in 1997.

A player with his home club, Castleford Tigers for 11 years from 1978-88, Kear moved to the backroom staff at the club before being appointed head coach at lower league Bramley in 1992.

In 1996, he was appointed as a Super League head coach for the first time, taking charge of Paris St Germain, before moving back to England the year after and taking over at then Super League side Sheffield Eagles, taking them to the play-off semi-finals in that year and then a Challenge Cup Final victory over Wigan in 1998.

From there he was assistant coach at Wigan and then Hull FC, before stepping up to first team coach at Hull in 2005 coaching them to an historic 25-24 Challenge Cup Final over Leeds Rhinos at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff that same year.

He then took charge of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for six seasons leading then to fifth in 2009, their highest ever Super League finish.

Since 2012, Kear has been head coach of Championship club Batley Bulldogs, a role he will keep alongside his Wales appointment.

Kear said: “I’m really delighted to have this opportunity as the new head coach of Wales Rugby League.

“I’m a big believer in international Rugby League as my background shows. I really think that I can make a big contribution to the game in Wales that will allow us to qualify and do well in Rugby League World Cup 2017.

“A strong international game is essential for Rugby League. The more competitive teams we have at the highest level the better and it’s my challenge to turn Wales into one of those top teams.

“I’m really looking forward to a long relationship with Wales Rugby League as we build for 2017 and beyond.”

Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: “The appointment of John Kear as head coach brings a wealth of experience forged at the highest level of the game to Wales Rugby League. His knowledge and proven ability to bring the very best out of his players makes him an ideal fit for Wales Rugby League at this formative time.

“It was important to bring in someone who shares our values and is committed to our vision 'to be a top four Rugby League Nation in governance and performance'.

“John's immediate challenge is to balance a young but very capable Wales squad into a winning team at this year’s European Championship and thereafter lay the foundation for success at the Rugby League World Cup 2017. I look forward to building a strong and supportive relationship with John to underpin the undoubted potential of Wales Rugby League.”

Friday, 11 July 2014

All Wales Sport Awards 2013/14

Last season here at All Wales Sport we came up with an idea of producing awards for the community side of the game, to look back at some of the moments and people that have contributed to Welsh sport and helped to make it another record breaking season for our site.

12 months is a long time in sport and both Welsh rugby and football have gone through their fair share of ups and downs over the past year.
I did initially write well over 2000 words for this piece but realised that it had turned into a pretty negative review by the end of it on the state in which Welsh Rugby currently finds itself. I wanted to focus on the positives and the clubs, people and stories that impacted positively on Welsh Sport, but it would also be remiss to leave out the general malaise that surrounds the game of rugby in Wales so I’ve done my best to be to the point.
Well! Where to start in the case of Welsh Rugby? To say it has been a tumultuous time would be the understatement of the century. There have been press releases, counter press releases, the return of David Moffett, an EGM and yet, after all the ‘meetings’ and ‘positive discussions’, the WRU and Regional Rugby Wales are still to come to an agreement. Couple this with the growing number of grassroot clubs who are currently fighting for their very survival and it’s pretty hard to find the silver lining to the Welsh rugby cloud.
This time last year, however, Welsh rugby at International level was riding on a wave of euphoria generated by the successful Lions Tour of Australia. There were ten Welsh players in the final test match, including the player of the series in Leigh Halfpenny, while who can forget George North’s fireman’s lift of opposite number Israel Folau - a tackle that will definitely reign as one of the most iconic moments in Lions history?
But 12 months on and Wales yet again suffered heartbreak at the hands of a Southern Hemisphere side, losing out in the most dramatic of ways in the Second Test to South Africa. Yes, the players performed brilliantly for 75 minutes but any top team should not have lost the match from their position.
This on the back of a relatively disappointing Six Nations and Autumn Series, and with no regions making the knock-out stages of tournaments either domestically or on the European stage, it really does make for dismal reading.
I have read, written, watched and taken part in many debates on Welsh rugby and the only consensus is that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but I firmly believe that if the grassroots continue to be starved of resources and funding then it will ultimately be to the detriment of all involved. Lest we forget that the Leigh Halfpennys and Sam Warburtons of this world all started playing rugby at club level.
Despite this, there have been positives at semi-professional level: Pontypridd produced another outstanding season, clinching the ‘double double’, while their heroics in the British and Irish Cup was a superb statement of intent from the Club.
At the other end of the Premiership, another team with a great heritage created history for all the wrong reasons as Swansea were relegated to the Championship, while Ebbw Vale made a long overdue return to the top flight of semi-pro rugby in Wales.
In the Women’s game, Neath Athletic once again proved they are the leading club in Wales as they secured their own ‘double double’. Meanwhile, the women’s national team had a pretty tough Six Nations and will be up against it at the World Cup in France that kicks off in just a few weeks. But pathways and training are improving all the time for women and girls playing rugby in Wales. However, the WRU still has a long way to go in its equality stakes - where as all Schools, Youth and Club Cup finals were played in the home of Welsh Rugby, the women were once again shipped to Llandovery’s Church Bank for their Finals day. Such blatant disparity is something, I feel, the WRU needs to promptly redress!!
Moving on to the round ball, it wasn’t a stellar year for either Cardiff City or Swansea City in the Premier League, and many Bluebirds fans I have spoken to have been, at times, dismayed by the handling of the club both on and off the field.
Swansea City were not immune to scandal either this season with talk of unrest and players fighting that ultimately led to Michael Laudrup being sacked in an unsavoury fashion. However, interim Manager Garry Monk kept Swansea up and was rewarded with a contract for his efforts.
Newport County, meanwhile, did well in their first season back in the football league and a respectable mid-table finish in the very competitive League Two was a great step back.
 Domestically The New Saints once again reigned supreme, completing a League and Cup double. Airbus were TNS’ closest rivals but they were 14 points adrift of the Oswestry based team in the final standings, while Aberystwyth pushed TNS all the way in the Welsh Cup final.
Elsewhere, Afan Lido were relegated from Wales’ top flight, with Cymru Alliance champions Cefn Druids replacing the Aberavon outfit in the Premier Division. 
AWARDS
There is no trophy for this award but last year we gave credit to the best welcome or experience at a ground.
Being based in Swansea, I generally don’t travel further east than the Brewery Field so it would be unfair to choose from only a handful of Premiership clubs for this, but for me West is generally best. I have once again had many a warm welcome at both Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli RFC, and I would like to give a special mention to Ian ‘Sooty’ Davies, the Matchday Officer at Llanelli, who is always exceptionally helpful.
RUGBY CLUB OF THE YEAR- GLYNNEATH RFC
There have been some truly performances from teams up and down Wales this season but there is one Club who, with their conduct on and off the field, has bagged them the All Wales Sport Rugby Club of the year.
In their 125th year they went unbeaten throughout their successful One West League campaign, they clinched the prestigious Silver Ball Trophy and made it to the semi-finals of the Swalec Plate. I have seen a number of their matches this year and having met and chatted to its supporters and volunteers who help run the outfit, I believe they are a club truly deserving of the award.
FOOTBALL CLUB OF THE YEAR- BARRY TOWN UNITED FC
What can really be said about the year Barry Town have endured? This time last year it was feasible they could have been playing Parks football but the volunteers and supporters took on the FAW and won, and not only that, they then defied the odds and clinched the Welsh League Division Three crown. One of the most successful clubs in the League of Wales’ history now looks like it is in the right hands and moving back to where the club belongs.
All Wales Sport Community Awards
Here at All Wales Sport, we pride ourselves on giving grassroots sport the coverage it deserves, and collecting and correlating the weekend rugby and football scores is a mammoth task.
Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the various club officials and volunteers that help make our lives a little easier, with a couple of individuals in particular given some notable recognition that they more than deserve:
Every Saturday, accurately tracking down scores, scorers and try counts can be a rather time consuming task as you could imagine, but there are countless clubs out there that e-mail, ring, text and tweet their results through that help make the process that little bit smoother.
For the award of best club contact, we took into consideration the following criteria: most reliable (that includes sending in results even after a loss); knowledge of the game you have just seen (scorers, try count, any incidents); and last but by no means least, a bit of banter. We put our heads together in the office and came up with a shortlist of candidates: John Humphreys (Rhiwbina), Paul Lewis (Merthyr), Rich Mainwaring (Pontrhydyfen), Jeff Skidmore (Loughor), Brian Morgan (Glynneath), Martin Ham (Mountain Ash).
Best Club Contact Paul Lewis (Merthyr RFC)
 Last year we had an award for best match report but with so many clubs now producing previews, match reports and newsletters we’ve updated the award to include all those titbits with a whole new one for Club Correspondent. I spend a lot of my life scouring club websites for news not just for the blog, but for articles I write in the general press, and the dedication and commitment a number of these correspondents put in is commendable. The list of candidates are: John Humphreys (Rhiwbina), Neil Evans (Llantwit Major), Paul Lewis (Merthyr), Martin Harvey (Llandrindod Wells).
Club Correspondent 2013/14 Neil Evans (Llantwit Major RFC)
This year we would once again like to thank amateur and professional photographers who continue to send us wonderful snaps that really do add so much to our blogs. Here is a list of photographers and Clubs that have helped us out this season: Garry Smith (AlfiePics); Clubs (Merthyr), (Rhiwbina), (Cefn Fforest).

Ystradgynlais picked up Best Club Twitter account last year but they won’t be retaining their crown - that honour goes to Amman United this season. Amman have combined wit with useful club news and, for me, their most memorable tweet for myself and colleagues was this little gem.. “No Mother's Day gift inspiration? Why not treat her early to a cheeseburger and can of Bow whilst watching the Amman play Skewen on Saturday.”
BEST CLUB TWITTER- Amman United RFC 
We now come to another new award, that of Best Social Media Club, and the crown goes to Ystradgynlais. The Swansea Valley Club have really kicked on since claiming the Best Twitter account last year. Their website is up-to-date and has opinion pieces and reports, while their Twitter and Facebook pages are engaging. What I like about them is that they are always looking at ways to innovate how they interact via social media and I honestly think some of the ‘bigger’ Clubs could look at the way Ystradgynlais conduct themselves over social media.
BEST SOCIAL MEDIA CLUB -Ystradgynlais RFC
The final award is the All Wales Sports Special Recognition Award, which goes to someone who has committed time and effort to helping their club, as well as showing real passion for grassroots rugby in Wales and at the same time made our job at All Wales Sport that much easier. The award this year goes to Rhiwbina’s John Humphreys. The press officer for the Squirrels has not only supplied club news, reports, and photos to us on a weekly basis but has also kept us up-to-date with any League news.
Winner: John Humphreys (Rhiwbina RFC)
Finally, All Wales Sport would also like to thank the following football league secretaries for all their hard work and dedication over the past season. Their help and support has once again ensured that AWS had another record breaking year!
Geraint Davies (Ceredigion)
Colin Jenkins (Carmarthenshire)
Glyn Jones (Gwent)
Alan Jones (Merthyr)
Paul Worts (Mid Wales)
Bob Smith (Neath)
Brian Hawkins (Pembrokeshire)
Geoff Cadwallader (Swansea)
Des Edwards ('live updates' from all the Cup Finals Swansea)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

South Wales Scorpions to play at Cardiff Arms Park

Wales Rugby League are taking three matches to Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 27th July thanks to sponsorship from Cardiff International Pool who are operated by Parkwood Leisure.

The magnificent six hour event will showcase three different levels of competitive Rugby League and will be headlined by the Kingstone Press Championship 1 fixture between South Wales Scorpions and London Skolars which will kick-off at 3pm.

Two hours earlier there will be an under 19 match between the same two sides while a Welsh Conference South match between Penallta based Valley Cougars and Gwendraeth Valley Raiders from Kidwelly kicks the day off at 11am.

Tag matches between local schools are also planned for half-time of the Scorpions v Skolars encounter.

It won’t be the first time that the Scorpions have played at the Arms Park. They took on Warrington Wolves reserves in a friendly there on the eve of Millennium Magic, losing 10-28.

Rugby League was first played at Cardiff Arms Park on June 8th 1996. A crowd of 6,078 were present to watch the old South Wales side beat Carlisle Border Raiders 37-18 before St Helens beat Sheffield Eagles 43-32 in what was Sheffield’s home Super League game but taken on the road. South Wales played four more games there in 1996 winning them all.

Just two other Rugby League games have been played at the Arms Park. Wales took on England there later in June 1996 losing 12-26 while another Super League game, in 1998 when Castleford beat Warrington 23-16, was also taken there as part of a nation-wide “on the road” round.

Chris True, General Manager of Cardiff International Pool operated by Parkwood Leisure on behalf of Cardiff Council, said: “Parkwood Leisure is delighted to be supporting Wales Rugby League and the South Wales Scorpions at this showcase event.

“Sport is a great way to stay healthy, active and fit and we hope that by supporting this event we can inspire new generations to take part in sport while also enjoying a great day out for the people of Cardiff.”

Mike Grady, Head coach of South Wales Scorpions, said: “This is fantastic news that South Wales Scorpions will be playing a match in Cardiff. The lads can’t wait to play on the 4G surface and I hope that it will be a fantastic day out.

“You will see some of the best that Rugby League in South Wales has to offer. The South Wales under 19s contributed all bar one of the players for the Wales under 19 side who recently won Bronze in the Commonwealth Championship while Gwendraeth Valley Raiders and Valley Cougars are both producing great players in West and East Wales respectively.

District rugby - Moffett fails to appear‏

Club members and guests attending the annual Presentation Evening of the Llanelli District Rugby Union at Pontyates RFC last Friday night heard nothing from guest speaker, David Moffett, after he failed to turn up.
 Llanelli District chairman, Anthony Roberts (right) presents the All Wales Sport Div 3 league champions trophy to Kidwelly skipper, Ashley Jones.
“He accepted the invitation to attend our dinner and he subsequently confirmed with me after the EGM in Port Talbot that he would be attending,” explained District chairman, Anthony Roberts.
“We had a room full of people who would have liked to have heard what he had to say after his speeches in Port Talbot and we were delighted that Scarlets general manager, Jon Daniels, who was attending as a guest, stepped in at the very last moment as the main speaker.”
And what Jon Daniels had to say delighted his audience when he confirmed that the Scarlets would be sponsoring the three 2nd XV leagues run by the District in 2014/15.
“It was very good news for us and it is great that the Scarlets are supporting local rugby. We are also pleased that the Llanelli & District Rugby Supporters Club are continuing their sponsorship for the Cup competition next season,” added Mr Roberts.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Volunteers club together to support Senior Open

Every big event relies on the dedication and enthusiasm of volunteers, and this month’s Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club will be no different, with local people clubbing together to help make it a success.
Among the volunteers is Rob Forman, from Laleston, who will be taking on marshalling duties. Forman is a seasoned golf volunteer, having helped out at numerous events held at Royal Porthcawl and The Celtic Manor Resort, as well as Southerndown, where he is a member.

He said: “The Senior Open is going to be a great advert for a top Welsh course, and Wales itself, on the world stage. I’ll enjoy seeing such a quality field of top golfers in action as they move through whichever hole I am marshalling on, and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing and maybe meeting Tom Watson, who is a world class gentleman as well as a world class golfer.”

Forman, who has been playing golf for 25 years, is also hoping that the positive effects of Royal Porthcawl hosting the event will also rub off on his own course just along the coast at Southerndown, which is one of three local courses hosting Monday qualifying.

He said: “I will be caddying when Southerndown will be hosting one of the qualifiers a few days before the big event itself, and I hope that with the area being in the spotlight it will help all local courses attract increasing numbers of visiting golfers from overseas.”

The Welsh Government has reached an agreement for three Senior Open Championships to be played in Wales between 2014 and 2024, and Bridgend County Borough Council is contributing £50,000 towards the hosting of the first event in Porthcawl, which is predicted to attract 34,000 spectators.

Councillor David Sage, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, said: “Volunteers are the heartbeat of events, as we saw with the ‘Games Makers’ at the London 2012 Olympics, so it’s great to see passionate golfers like Rob getting behind this event and sparing their time to help out.”

Councillor Sage added: “It was recently announced that The Open will soon be played on Northern Ireland’s shores for the first time since 1951 after Royal Portrush was added to the select group of courses on the Open Championship’s rota, and a successful Senior Open would certainly boost Royal Porthcawl’s hopes of joining them. We really hope that the Senior Open will be a big success and help to put Bridgend County Borough on the map for global golf fans.”

The Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex takes place at Royal Porthcawl from July 24 – 27 and will feature legends of the game including Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

There are still some vacancies for volunteering, with roles including course marshals and scorers. All volunteers need to be aged over 18. For further details, please email golfmarshaltso@outlook.com.

Tickets for The 2014 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex at Royal Porthcawl can be bought online via www.senioropengolf.com  or by calling +44 (0)800 0232557, with details of hospitality packages also available.

Llantrisant & Pontyclun tee up shot at Gleneagles showpiece

A tilt at golfing glory awaits amateur Richard Charles and his Llantrisant & Pontyclun PGA professional MatthewDearden as they bid to reach the Lombard Trophy grand final being staged at Gleneagles – just three weeks before Europe and America meet in the Ryder Cup.
 
Charles teed up a chance to tread the fairways of the King’s Course at the famous Scottish resort between September 3-4 when he won his club qualifying competition.
 
He and Dearden now advance to the regional final at Dunham Forest Golf Club on Friday 25 July, where they will compete against up to 70 other clubs for the chance to secure one of 16 prized spots available for the 36-hole grand final.
 
Lombard, the UK’s largest asset finance provider which invests in local and regional business, has enjoyed a long association with the event, helping make it the biggest pro-am in Europe.
 
“We are delighted to be associated with the tournament, and wish all the regional finalists good luck as they try and win a place at Gleneagles,” said managing director of Lombard, Richard Hemsley.
 
“With the 2014 Ryder Cup taking place just three weeks after the Lombard Trophy, it gives the final an extra dimension with competitors able to soak up the build-up ahead of the European and American showdown.”
 
The tournament, now in its 30th year, attracts entries from upwards of 700 clubs across Great Britain and Ireland. Lombard originally sponsored the tournament from 1995 to 2006 before returning as headline sponsor in 2013.
 
The PGA National Pro-Am Championship has a total prize fund of £80,000, with the winning professional at the grand final taking home a cheque for £12,000.      
 
Richard Charles, is a 44-year-old carpet fitter from Llantrisant.  He has been playing golf for 20 years and plays off a handicap of four.            
 
Matthew Dearden, 36, has been a professional at Llantrisant & Pontyclun for 15 months. He is a former Wales and West PGA Order of Merit winner and 2012 Bournemouth Classic champion.
 
Last year's winners were PGA professional Ian Walley and amateur partner Ian Neal from Kedleston Park Golf Club in Derbyshire.

JANE HEADS FOR HOLLYWOOD

Newly crowned European champion Jane Rees is hoping to head for Hollywood thanks to her win against Europe's top senior amateurs.

Hollywood in New Jersey, rather than California, is the venue for this year's US Seniors Amateur Championship and Rees is planning to take part as the European winner.
First there is a Ryder Cup style match against the US to be held in Valderrama, Spain, next week as part of the European team for the Seniors Women Invitational Match.
Since winning the European title in Madrid, triumphing by seven shots after going into the final round trailing by four strokes, Hendon-based Rees has finished second in Holland as well as preparing for the SWIM international.
I was surprised but very pleased to win as I was not the lowest handicapper playing, but I believe the European title gets me into the US Seniors Amateur Championship in September,” said the Wales international, aged 55.
It is at Hollywood golf club, but in Deal, New Jersey rather than California. Those allowed to enter include the European champion.
I went into the final round of the European championships four shots behind a lady who was a member at that club, Maria de Orueta. However I started the final round with two pars and two birdies while she had four bogeys.
She chipped in at the 14th to potentially reduce my lead to one shot, but I sank a long putt on the same hole. In the end I had a five shot lead going up the last and felt I could get that done.
My husband David caddied for me, he had the plan of the undulating greens and kept telling me where to hit the ball.”
Rees is also a Wales international athlete, running in the 400m hurdles, and only took up golf when her athletics career came to an end.
I took up golf when I was 30, played socially for a while and then entered the Welsh Seniors when I turned 50.
I won that and got into the Wales team and have been able to play in plenty of big events since then, including winning the Spanish seniors title in 2010. The ladies senior scene is really thriving.”

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Four Welsh Students selected for Rugby League tour of Ghana

Four Rugby League players from Welsh universities have been chosen to represent the Great Britain Pioneers Student side on the tour to Ghana next week.

The players leave on the weekend, arriving on Monday and will be in the West African nation for two weeks.

Callum Williamson and Sean Pattimore will represent Swansea University, George McNulty-Shaw is from Aberystwyth while Benjamin Chipperfield attends and plays for Bangor.

The Pioneers were formed in 2005 and encompass students from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the aim of aiding fledgling nations.

They made their inaugural tour to Estonia and have since visited the Czech Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, Kazakhstan, Greece and Poland.

Squad members are ambassadors for their university and sport, selection criteria considering not only their ability to play the game to a high standard but a proven track record in undertaking rugby league development activity.

While in Ghana, the squad will play three matches against the Ghana All Stars and two facing the national side while also running coaching clinics in schools, running touch rugby tournaments – including one on the beach, meeting the local press and taking part in cultural activities and visits.

GRL Development Manager Sylvester Wellington commented: “This tour has been two years in the planning. We have heard and read about the Pioneers and how they are helping countries to develop rugby league and we feel this is a big opportunity for Ghana to showcase what we have been doing and how fast the sport has grown here.”

“The players and management of Ghana RL are looking forward to it because it will help in making so many more people aware about the sport.”

He added: “We also know this will open the way for us in terms of sponsorships and making some of our players known outside Africa, there is some terrific talent here.”

The tourists, who have been helped in their preparations by the sport’s official charity, Rugby League Cares, will be managed by Steve Curtis, Sports Development Manager at the University of Hull.

He said: “The SRL GB Pioneers tour to Ghana is an exciting new challenge for us. The RLEF have done some great work out there and we want to help build on it and spread the word about rugby league.”

“We have a busy itinerary and all the players and staff are looking forward to leaving tools to help grow the sport there.”

FITNESS BOOST FOR SCARLETS

Scarlets have received a boost ahead of the new season with a number of key squad players likely to return to action in time for the 2014-15 campaign after surgery and long-term injuries.
Wales internationals Rhys Priestland and Emyr Phillips and 44 times capped Scottish international John Barclay are all expected to return to full fitness in time for the start of the 2014-15 PRO12 season in September after receiving treatment towards the end of last season.

As the squad returns to Parc y Scarlets for pre-season training Scarlets Head of Medical Andrew Walker gives an update on the player injuries.

Flanker John Barclay is six weeks post elected surgery on his shoulder with strengthening work underway and going well. Barclay is back running and is expected to participate fully in pre-season training with the squad from early August and is expected to make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Hooker Emyr Phillips needed shoulder surgery after an injury sustained in the region's home victory over Zebre in April. Phillips will return to full pre-season training next week.

Centre Adam Warren underwent elected shoulder surgery and returns to full pre-season training next week.

Scarlets Head of Medical Andrew Walker said: "Both Emyr and Adam have progressed really well and have built up great strength during their rehabilitation. They will both remain non-contact until we're happy that they're ready. John is also doing particularly well and we expect him to return for the start of the season.”

Outside half Rhys Priestland required surgery on a knee injury sustained in Scarlets' last game of the season against Cardiff Blues.

Walker added: "Rhys is now five weeks post operation and he's already back on the bike. He's increasing strength around his knee and also increasing calf strength due to his previous Achilles injury. We will look to run Rhys in two weeks time and expect him fit for the start of the season.”

Second row George Earle returned to pre-season training last week from summer break and was experiencing some discomfort in his ankle.

Walker went on to say: "George came back in last week and was still experiencing some discomfort from an injury sustained towards the back end of the season. He has a ruptured tendon in his ankle and underwent elected surgery on Tuesday.

"He's expected to be out for 8-10 weeks but will be fit for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Centre Scott Williams will return to full contact training towards the end of July following an extended summer recovery programme but is also expected to make a return for the start of the season.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

TNS put six past Cefn

The New Saints beat Cefn Druids by six goals to one in a friendly match at Park Hall Stadium last night.

The Saints opened the scoring in the 36th minute thanks to Sam Finley. The TNS number eight was able to beat Dave Roberts from a free kick despite the tight angle.

A minute later and Scott Quigley doubled The Saints’ advantage. The powerful winger cut in on his right foot and fired in from 12 yards out.

The third goal of the game came in the 42nd minute after Matty Williams found space on the edge of the box. The former Notts County forward found the bottom corner of Roberts’ goal with an excellent left footed strike.

Six minutes into the second half, Kai Edwards made it four nil to Craig Harrison’s side. The defender was left unmarked at the  back post and slotted in from two yards out.

The visitors pulled a goal back a minute after the hour mark. The Druids number 15 found the bottom corner from just inside the box to reduce the deficit.

However, substitute Jamie Mullan headed in a fifth goal with only ten minutes left. The winger was picked out by fellow substitute Simon Spender and made no mistake from two yards out.

In what turned out to be the last kick of the game, substitute Ryan Fraughan expertly found the top corner to ensure a six one victory.

Full time: TNS 6-1 Cefn Druids.

The New Saints – Chris Mullock, Scott Ruscoe, Phil Baker, Kai Edwards, Chris Marriott, Sam Finley, Ryan Kershaw, Scott Quigley, Matty Williams, Levi Fernandez (trialist) and Greg Draper.

Cefn Druids – Dave Roberts, Peter Hoy, Ian Edmunds, Robbie James, Chris Rimmer, Tom Donegan, Peter Doran, Chris King, Jason Carey, Alan Bull and Josh McAuley.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

TNS draw Slovak Champs in Euro qualifier

The New Saints have been drawn against SK Slovan Bratislava in the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round.

The Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League Champions will take on the Slovakian Champions after being drawn with them in yesterday’s UEFA Champions League draw.

The first leg will be played at the Pasienky Stadium on either the 16th or 17th of July and the New Saints confirmed that the second leg match again SK Slovan Bratislava will take place on Tuesday the 22nd of July.

The match between the Welsh Champions and the Slovak Champions will be played at Rhyl’s Corbett Sports Stadium and will kick off at 19:30pm.

Tickets will be priced at £20.00, however, tickets can be purchased for only £10.00 by either club members or season ticket holders.

Meanwhile, the Europa League draw sees both Bangor City and Airbus UK drawing UEFA competition debutants in Stjarnan from Iceland and FK Haugesund from Norway respectively.

Aberystwyth Town will face Northern Ireland-based Derry City, who play in the Southern Ireland League. The first game will be at Brandywell on July the 3rd with the return leg at Park Avenue on the 10th.

Airbus UK Broughton and Bangor City are both due to play at the Bookpeople Stadium - home of Bangor City and it has been confirmed that the Wingmakers will host Haugesund on the 3rd of July while the Citizens will welcome their Icelandic opponents on the 10th.

If Bangor City can progress from their first qualifying round, they will face Scottish Premier League side Motherwell.


Aberystwyth Town would face FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus and Airbus would face a difficult trip to FK Sarajevo.