Friday, 30 January 2015

New signing Crosswell gets the nod from Jones

Newport Gwent Dragons flanker Nick Crosswell will make his first appearance for the Men of Gwent on Sunday against Exeter Chiefs in the LV=Cup, KO 14:30.

Crosswell recently signed a contract with the Dragons after leaving New Zealand province the Manawatu Turbos.

The 28-year-old has been training with the Welsh region since his arrival in Wales and is one of twelve changes Dragons management have made to the team that faced Stade Francais in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend.

The back three has one change made to it as fullback Geraint Rhys Jones and wing Tom Prydie are joined by Ashton Hewitt. The centre partnership consists of premiership star Carl Meyer, who joins the Dragons from Ebbw Vale RFC and Dragons stalwart Ashley Smith who takes on the role of skipper. This is Smith's first appearance for the Dragons since recovering from a jaw injury which he sustained whilst playing against Bucharest Wolves in December. Fly half Dorian Jones retains his place from last weekend and is joined in the half backs by scrumhalf Richie Rees.

The front row sees props Lloyd Fairbrother and Dan Way start alongside hooker Hugh Gustafson. The second row has also changed as young guns Matthew Screech and Cory Hill take up the position of lock forwards. The back row is a mixture of youth and experience as flankers Nick Crosswell and James Benjamin are named to play alongside British and Irish lion No.8 Andy Powell.

There are six changes to the replacements bench as Rhys Buckley, Owen Evans, David Young, Joe Davies and Scott Matthews join Luc Jones and Angus O'Brien.

Dragons team to face Exeter Chiefs
Geraint Rhys Jones, Tom Prydie, Carl Meyer, Ashley Smith (c), Ashton Hewitt, Dorian Jones, Richie Rees; Lloyd Fairbrother, Hugh Gustafson, Dan Way, Matthew Screech, Cory Hill, Nick Crosswell, James Benjamin, Andy Powell.

Replacements: Rhys Buckley, Owen Evans, David Young, Joe Davies, Scott Matthews, Luc Jones, Angus O'Brien, Jack Dixon.

Pair make debut as Jenkins captains Blues

James Sheekey and Seb Davies will all make their debuts for Cardiff Blues as the region returns to LV=Cup action away to Wasps at Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon ( kick-off 2pm).

The pair are handed first-ever senior outings for the Blues, in a team captained by Ellis Jenkins, that contains a mix of youth and experience.

Wales international Craig Mitchell packs down with Rhys Williams and Tom Davies up front while lock Miles Normandale joins forces with Seb Davies in the second row.

Newcomer James Sheekey joins Macauley Cook and skipper Jenkins in the back row.

Centre Adam Thomas is paired with Garyn Smith, who made his debut earlier in the season, in midfield.

Argentine, Lucas Amorosino is on the wing with Richard Smith and Joaquin Tuculet completing the back three. The half back pairing is Rhys Patchell and Lewis Jones.

The bench contains another potential debut in Flanker, Jordan Viggers who is in line for a first team bow if he comes on at the Ricoh Arena.

Richard Hodges, Elite Performance Pathway Manager at the Blues, said "The game is another chance for players on the fringes of the first team and at Academy standard to step up to the plate and gain exposure to regional rugby.

"It is great to have Ellis involved again to lead the group and help bring up the standards, supplemented by the likes of Macauley Cook, Craig Mitchell, Rhys Williams and Rhys Patchell.

"We have a good core to the squad that allows us to feed the younger players in.

"We have our under 20 boys this week, who will then go off to Under 20s camp on Monday so we want to give them some exposure this week.

"A few players will be making their regional debut this weekend. They are boys who have been in the Blues set up now for four or five years and everything has lent itself to a day like Sunday, which will be a great day for them and their families.

"We are two out of two, if we don't get the win this weekend it will be tough to get through. We have to get the win on Sunday."

Cardiff Blues: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Richard Smith, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Adam Thomas, 11 Lucas Amorosino, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones; 1 Thomas Davies, 2 Rhys Williams, 3 Craig Mitchell, 4 Miles Normandale, 5 Seb Davies, 6 Macauley Cook, 7 Ellis Jenkins (c), 8 James Sheekey.

Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Ben Roach, 20 Jordan Viggers, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Geraint Walsh

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Swalec League Weekend Review

Kidwelly's Daf Latham in action against Llangennech
Llanharan climbed off the bottom of the Swalec Championship as they upset the form guide to record a much-needed 23-17 win over highflying Pontypool at the Dairyfield.
The Dairymen outscored their visitors two tries to one thanks to efforts from Rhys Morgan and Dafi Davies, while Geraint Llewellyn added the extras to both and fired over three penalties for a personal haul of 13 points.
Pooler had to be content with a losing bonus point- Garin Harris crossed for their only try of the game, while Clayton Gullis landed four penalties.

The weather had wreaked havoc across the league with the top three sides at the start of the day -Bargoed, Swansea and Merthyr - all seeing their games cancelled.
Meanwhile, Cardiff Met capitalised to move up to third in the league thanks to a 28-13 win at Tata Steel.
The Students ran in three touchdowns through Amir Wagli, John Dawe and John Humphreys, while Jacob Chilcott racked up 13 points from the tee.
Glynneath recorded the sixth win of their campaign with the slenderest of 13-12 wins over visitors Bridgend Athletic.
Craig Moses crossed for Glynneath’s only try while centre Jack O’Reilly added the extras and two penalties.
All of Bridgend Athletic's points came in the first half with tries by Ryan Owen and Dan Howells converted by Josh White.
Elsewhere, Newbridge’s dismal season continued as they lost 17-3 at Narberth.
Rhiwbina narrowed Penallta’s lead at the summit of One East thanks to a 21-10 home win over Risca at Caedelyn.
 Rhiwbina's James Malpas on the charge against Risca
In a truncated programme due to the Swalec Plate action, the Squirrels did well to defeat the weather and their opponents to record their tenth win of the season.
The Squirrels had to overcome a ten point deficit to see of their visitors in very difficult conditions.
Risca took an early ten point lead through a try by Nathan Williams, converted by Owen Biddiscombe, who also kicked a penalty.
An inspiring performance by James Malpas for the Squirrels led their fight-back, and it was another star performer Sion Summers who set up Rhiwbina’s first try for Louis Millar, converted by Brett Chatwin.
Josh Davies set up the second Rhiwbina touchdown with a neat chip ahead, which was kicked on by Millar who touched down for his second try, well converted by Charlie Elton.
The second half was a real battle. As the conditions got muddier, it was Malpas who deservedly got the Squirrels’ third try after their pack shunted the Risca scrum backwards from a 5 metre scrum, before Elton kicked the conversion, but try as they could, the fourth bonus try would not come as the determined Risca defence held firm.
In the only other game in the division to get the go ahead, Rumney were 13-10 winners at Blaenavon.
Rumney outscored their hosts two tries to one thanks to efforts from Chris Melton and Lee Bendon, while Danny Clarke struck over a penalty.
Blaenavon picked up a losing bonus point thanks to a Gareth Jones touchdown and five points from the boot of Darren Pearce.
Only two matches survived the freezing conditions in One East Central- Gilfach Goch clinched a 23-14 win at Mountain Ash.
The boot of Ian Davies did the damage for Gowch as the fly half landed three penalties and converted both Dean Evans’ and Nathan Walters’ touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Treorchy moved up to third thanks to a 27-0 victory over Rhydyfelin at the Oval.
Peter Hutchings was at the double for the Zebras while Curtis Hughes also crossed as they claimed maximum points. 
Kidwelly's No. 8 Rich Rees produced an outstanding performance against Llangennech
In One West, leaders Kidwelly  dispatched hosts Llangennech 27-15. 
The Black and Ambers produced a five star showing to see off their hosts- Richard Rees and Robin Davies both grabbed braces for the highfliers while Carwyn Thomas also went over. Steff Marshall added the extras to one.
Llangennech Captian Dan Griffiths in action against Kidwelly
The result sees Llangennech slip 16 points behind the league leaders as they failed to pick up anything from the clash. Chris Strick and Jordan Dunn touched down for the hosts while Chris Moore landed a penalty and a conversion.
Meanwhile, Amman United came within a whisker of clinching just the third win of their season but were ultimately defeated 20-23 by Tenby Unted.
Bonymaen extended their lead at the top of One West Central to eight points as they saw off Cwmllynfell.
Full back Paul Warlow bagged a brace for Bony, while openside flanker Rhys Leonard also went over the whitewash. Richard Cunniffe added one conversion and a penalty from the tee.
The road to the Millennium Stadium continued with the fourth round matches in both the Swalec Plate and the Bowl.
The tie of the last 16 in the Plate saw 2012 winners Penallta entertain 2013 victors Heol y Cyw with the Pitmen coming out on top 46-5 to clinch a quarter-final berth.
Joseph Scrivens was the star performer for the One East leaders as the fly half bagged a brace and also notched up 16 points from the tee. Rhys Fitzgerald was at the double, while Andrew Jenkins and Craig Haines also got their names on the scoresheet.
A Ryan Griffiths touchdown was all the One East Central side could muster.
Meanwhile, in an East v West battle, Swansea outfit Penlan proved that west was best as the second division side caused an upset at One East Central’s Ynysybwl with a 17-13 victory.
Penlan outscored their hosts three tries to two with efforts from Rob Green, Adam Glover and Dafydd Pritchard, while Steven Davies added the extras to one.
In the Swalec Bowl, Ynysddu made sure their name was in the hat for the last 16 as they overcame hosts Caldicot 19-10.
In the all Three East A clash, it was the league leaders Ynysddu that came out on top as they touched down three times thanks to efforts from Beynon Williams, Nathan Diniz and Adam Kidney.
Swansea Uplands eased into the fifth round as they dispatched visitors Penybanc 29-8.
Scrum-half Sam Jones was the hero of the day for the Ups as he racked up a touchdown, two conversions and five penalties for a personal haul of 24 points, while Alex Greenslade also went over.
Elsewhere, Cambrian Welfare edged to a 3-0 win over Dinas Powys in a mud bath, while Colwyn Bay thrashed Harlech 43-12 to bag a last 16 berth.
The wintry weather saw five matches fall victim of freezing and waterlogged pitches.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Ambassador Amy to encourage new women and girl golfers

Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Amy Boulden is to help encourage the next generation of female golfers as a Golf Development Wales ambassador for the Women and Girls beginner scheme.
Any club signing up to join the beginner scheme will be in with a chance of winning an exclusive clinic with Boulden, one of the rising stars of European golf.
After coming through the ranks of the Golf Union of Wales system through to the top 20 on the Ladies European Tour, 21-year-old Boulden is hoping to inspire more successful Welsh talent in the future.
The product of Maesdu and Conwy clubs is to take on the new role as she also starts her first full season on the Ladies European Tour.
“I am excited about being the new Women and Girls Ambassador for Golf Development Wales,” said Boulden.
“This is a real honour for me having come through the amateur ranks playing for Wales and now playing professionally on the Ladies European Tour, achieving Rookie of the Year for 2014.
“Golf is a fantastic sport that has enriched my life since playing it from a young age and as part of my role as GDW ambassador sharing this experience is something I am very much looking forward to.
“Golf provides a number of skills to people of all ages including team work, social skills, communication, commitment, movement skills and fitness to name just a few all of which have helped me in personally and professionally.
“I would encourage anyone to take up this great sport and to show my commitment any club that runs a GDW beginner Women or Girls scheme in 2015 will be entered in to a prize draw to win a personal clinic with me at their club.”
Half the golf clubs in Wales run specific female beginner schemes, which shows the huge demand. 60 per cent of those people registered for New2Golf were women last year with several hundred getting involved with clubs.
“We hope that bringing Amy on board will allow us to further promote the scheme and get our clubs running even more beginner scheme’s in 2015,”said GDW Mid and West Wales development officer Stuart Finlay.
“We are delighted to have someone of Amy's growing stature in the game to help push this new scheme. She is the perfect example of someone who came through the Wales amateur teams and is now doing so well at the top level of European ladies golf.
“However this scheme is not just about finding stars of the future, it is also about enjoyment for women and girls of all ages.
“For the clubs there is the benefit of attracting more members through encouraging people to take up a sport for life while also demonstrating the benefits of club membership.”
To learn to play contact your local golf club or log on to the Golf Development Wales website at

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Exciting fly half Evans signs senior deal

Highly-rated young fly half Jarrod Evans has pledged his long-term future to Cardiff Blues after signing his first senior contract at the region.

Evans has put pen to paper this week and stepped up from the Blues Academy set-up to join the senior ranks.

Pontypridd born and bred, Evans, 18, came through the mini and junior ranks of his local club before his precocious talents saw him called into the Blues Academy.

The talented playmaker has been capped by Wales and Youth and Under-18 level and made his debut for Pontypridd when aged just 17 in 2013.

Richard Hodges, Elite Performance Pathway Manager at Cardiff Blues, said: "Jarrod has been part of the Blues set-up since he was 14 and has progressed through the Blues North and Under-18s squads.

"He is a talented young player who many fans will remember scoring four tries as Blues Under-18s won the Regional Championship final at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park last season.

"Jarrod has had to recover from two operations this season, but is now coming back into the mix. I'm sure he'll be very keen to push for a place in the LV=Cup squads next month and be part of the Wales Under-20 set-up in the coming years.

"He is the next player off the conveyor belt of talent we are looking to produce at Cardiff Blues and I'm confident Jarrod will play a big part for this region and get even better in the coming years.”

Evans said: "Cardiff Blues gave me the opportunity to come through the system and progress since I was youngster and so I'm delighted to now take the step up to the senior squad.

"It will be great to get back out on the field in the coming weeks and playing some rugby again. For me the hard work starts now and I want to push myself as hard as can and see where I go.

"I want to keep improving and Blues have a lot of talented fly halves like Gareth Anscombe, Rhys Patchell, Gareth Davies and Simon Humberstone who have been great with me. Now it's about learning from them and moving forward.”

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Amy Boulden wins Ladies European Tour’s OMEGA Rookie of the Year Prize

Amy Boulden capped her first season as a professional by winning the Ladies European Tour’s OMEGA Rookie of the Year prize.

The 21-year-old from Llandudno in Wales led the rookie rankings heading into the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, the final tournament of the 2014. With her tied 24h place finish, she held off the challenge of her nearest rivals, Sally Watson of Scotland and Nicole Broch Larsen from Denmark, to earn a beautiful OMEGA Speedmaster chronograph with a white mother-of-pearl dial, a diamond-paved bezel and a white leather strap.  

“It’s been a really great first season on the Ladies European Tour,” said Boulden, who won the Association Suisse de Golf Ladies Open on the LET Access Series in May.

“It was one of my goals from when I turned pro, to win Rookie of the Year.  I thought it was going to be quite tough this year not having a full card.  I wasn't sure how many events I was going to be playing in but starting the year well has helped me a lot. It’s a real honour to win and join the prestigious list of former winners, including Laura Davies, Annika Sorenstam and Charley Hull.”

Boulden was one of the top performers in 2014 and recorded four top 10 finishes including a second place at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

She finished third at the Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic, fourth at the Ladies German Open presented by Marriott and 10th at the Tenerife Open de EspaƱa Femenino.

With season’s earnings of €83,982.17, she finished 18th on the 2014 Order of Merit, five places ahead of the second placed rookie Watson.

The Ladies European Tour congratulates Amy on a fantastic start to her professional career.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

weekend predictions

All Wales Sport previews the sixth and final round of the British & Irish Cup along with the only Principality Premiership game taking place this weekend.

Pool 1 – London Scottish v Pontypridd

Having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Bristol almost a fortnight ago, Ponty recovered from that confidence-crushing defeat with a bonus-point home win over Connacht last week that reignited their British & Irish Cup hopes.

Another five-point win guarantees qualification for the last eight as one of the three best runners-up – while four points will almost certainly do as well.

Standing before them are London Scottish, who although already out, have only been beaten once (by Bristol) on their own ground this season while Ponty also slipped up here 26-21 almost exactly a year ago.

The pressure is on Ponty for sure but, although a lot will depend on what side the English Championship side put out with nothing riding on it for them, I’m going for a Ponty win nonetheless.

Prediction: Pontypridd by 6 points

Pool 2 – Ulster Ravens v Aberavon

Aberavon's losing run was extended to eight games with last Saturday's 42-14 home defeat to Rotherham.

The Wizards also have not won in any competition since they beat Ulster 18-14 at The Talbot Athletic Ground in the reverse fixture on October 11.

Although they have at least salvaged some pride with some gutsy recent performances in defeat and I’m backing Jason Hyatt's side to complete the double over winless Ulster.

Prediction: Aberavon by 5 points

Pool 4 – Doncaster Knights v Cross Keys

Seven of the 10 matches played in Pool 4 have resulted in a winning margin of five points or less.

Cross Keys, while bottom of the pool, have more than held their own this season – although were taken apart at home by Bedford last weekend.

Their two previous away trips to English Championship clubs have ended in a one-point win (v Bedford) and a one-point loss (v Cornish Pirates).

Group winners Doncaster won 37-32 at Pandy Park in round one and I’ve got them down to finish the group with a 100 per cent record.

Prediction: Doncaster by 7 points

Pool 5 - Carmarthen Quins v Jersey

The winners of this tie – being played at Llandovery – can still go through as one of the best runners-up, if Munster A and Cornish Pirates are well beaten.

Jersey are on a four-game losing streak but won with a bonus point when the sides met back in October.

Although I think Carmarthen – a composite Scarlets A side in all but name – will win on Saturday and finish on a high, I fear it’s a big ask for all the results needs elsewhere to go their way.

Prediction: Carmarthen Quins by 10 points


Principality Premiership – Cardiff v Neath (2.30pm)

There is also one Principality Premiership clash taking place on Saturday and it’s at the Arms Park between Cardiff and Neath.

The Welsh All Blacks have undergone something of a transformation with three wins from their last four Premiership outings to revive their flagging fortunes after a tough start to the season that, for many, left them odds on for the drop.

Patrick Horgan’s re-introduction at the Gnoll has certainly helped turn things around and will hope to carry on from where they left off three weeks ago when they beat Newport at Rodney Parade – despite playing with 14 men for much of the game.

However it must also be said that, although Neath dug in, Newport were also particularly poor on the day and a better side would have capitalised on their numerical advantage.

Cardiff on their own ground will provide a much sterner test and will themselves will be looking forward to returning to action after many weeks of being stop-start, with the league taking a back seat for the British & Irish Cup.

The Blue and Blacks currently sit in fourth place in the table with five wins from seven games.

I expect a fiercely-contested battle between these two but back Cardiff to win and make it six from eight with the enforced three-week break also likely to have halted Neath’s new-found momentum just slightly.

Prediction: Cardiff by 11 points

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

PGA pros vital to clubs - GUW chief

A leading figure in Welsh golf believes PGA Professionals hold the key to the long term success of golf clubs in Wales.

John Jermine, chairman of the Golf Union of Wales (GUW), has backed the skill and expertise of PGA pros in helping clubs build and sustain strong memberships.

The former chartered accountant, who is one of Wales’ most successful amateur golfers, also insisted that clubs need a triumvirate of pro, club secretary and junior organiser working closely together.

John Jermine

“I am convinced that unless clubs grasp the nettle and put in a PGA qualified professional they will never get the club where they want it to be,” said Jermine.

“At the GUW, we have some great examples of dramatic improvements made to clubs with the help of a PGA Professional.

“The secret going forward for most clubs, and the lifeblood of the future of clubs, is bringing new people into the game and, therefore, we need PGA pros who can teach in primary and secondary schools, get out into the community and coach people of all ages, whether young or old.

“A big opportunity is to attract the older generations who tend to have more time and who might be looking for a new sport.

“We have discovered through our research that people who become reasonably competent, fairly quickly tend to keep playing golf.

“The biggest loss of members to clubs are those who have been playing for a couple of years but haven’t got much better and as a result lose momentum and interest.

“When you have a PGA pro at a club playing an active part that doesn’t happen because they are always there to help them improve, play better golf and enjoy the game more.”

It’s in the area of junior golf too that Jermine feels pros can have a particularly significant impact.

“We’ve also discovered that young girls need to start playing golf between the ages of seven to 10 so by the time they get to 13 and 14 they are playing well enough that they want to continue playing,” he added.

“If they don’t start playing until they are 13 or 14 they never get good enough to want to keep playing when other interests arrive, as they inevitably do.”

The PGA has been actively engaging with clubs throughout the UK to highlight the benefits PGA pros bring to facilities and that message was reinforced by Jermine.

“Why do people enjoy golf? Because it is a great sport, a place where they can meet friends, make new friends and enjoy the social side of the club.
It is also a sport we can play for life with every club in the local area delighted to see new faces.

“But they also enjoy playing the game as well as they can and that’s where you need the PGA Professional.

"To do that the Club Professional needs the active support of the club secretary and, similarly, a junior organiser. If you have all three elements, without exception, it works.”

British & Irish Cup round six preview

Bristol Rugby, Rotherham Titans, Worcester Warriors, Doncaster Knights and defending champions Leinster A have all qualified for the quarter-finals of the British & Irish Cup as winners of their respective pools with a round to spare.

The English Championship quartet are unbeaten after five rounds of action and are on course for a home draw in the quarter-finals while Leinster, who are bidding for a hat-trick of titles, are set to be on their travels in the last eight unless they can improve their position this weekend and qualify for the knockout stages as one of the top four seeds.

Eight sides still have a mathematical chance of grabbing one of the three quarter-final spots available to the best runners-up.

Yorkshire Carnegie are currently in the driving seat with 18 points, Pontypridd have 15 and Munster A and Cornish Pirates, who met in the inaugural B&I Cup final in 2009, are both on 14.

Bedford, Moseley, Carmarthen Quins and Jersey have slim mathematical chances of maintaining their interest beyond the weekend.


Connacht Eagles v Bristol Rugby

Top plays bottom as pool leaders Bristol go in search of the win they need to be certain of a home quarter-final. Bristol extended their winning run to 13 matches with a 22-14 victory over London Scottish in round five.

Bristol outscored Connacht eight tries to four in front of a record B&I Cup crowd when the sides met in round one. Olly Robinson, son of director of rugby Andy, scored a hat-trick on his competitive debut for the club.

London Scottish v Pontypridd

Pontypridd's destiny remains in their own hands with the Welsh Premiership side knowing that a bonus-point win at The Athletic Ground would guarantee them one of the best runners-up spots.

Welsh champions Ponty won the first match with London Scottish 23-17 at Sardis Road.


Rotherham Titans v Yorkshire Carnegie

Yorkshire Carnegie need two points from Saturday's trip to Clifton Lane to be mathematically certain of their place in the last eight as one of the three best runners-up.

If Carnegie head back up the M1 empty-handed they will have to hope that at least one of their main rivals, Pontypridd, Munster and Cornish Pirates fails to win.

Titans kept Carnegie try less in both previous meetings this season: 6-0 at Headingley in the Championship and 20-3 at Silver Royd, Scarborough RUFC in the B&I Cup.

Ulster Ravens v Aberavon

Aberavon's losing run was extended to eight games with Saturday's 42-14 home defeat to Rotherham.

The Wizards have not win in any competition since they beat Ulster 18-14 at The Talbot Athletic Ground on October 11. Ulster are winless and will exit the competition at the end of the pool stages for the third year in a row.


Moseley v Munster A

A first bonus-point win of the season would guarantee Munster a place in the last eight regardless of how Cornish Pirates fare at Bedford.

Tries have been hard to come by for Munster to date with just 10 in five matches. They beat Moseley 27-21 at Clonmel in round one.

Worcester Warriors v Nottingham Rugby

Worcester are certain of a home tie in the knockout stages if they beat Nottingham for the third time this season.

The Warriors won 55-16 when the sides met in the league at Sixways at the end of September and they prevailed 26-19 in the cup three weeks later at Meadow Lane.


Bedford Blues v Cornish Pirates

Last Saturday's agonising 31-30 defeat at home to Doncaster has left Cornish Pirates' hopes of making it out of Pool 4 hanging by a thread.

Realistically the Pirates need to win at Bedford for the first time since March 2011 – and hope Munster and Pontypridd fail to beat Moseley and London Scottish respectively – to qualify for the last eight for the fifth time in their history.

The first B&I Cup tie at the Mennaye Field was a real humdinger with Pirates winning 35-34.

However the B&I Cup Organising Committee overturned the result after Pirates wrongly introduced an additional player to the fray when the game had already gone to uncontested scrums.

Doncaster Knights v Cross Keys

Seven of the 10 matches played in Pool 4 have resulted in a winning margin of five points or less, and Cross Keys, while bottom of the pool, have more than held their own this season.

Their two previous away trips to Championship clubs have ended in a one-point win (v Bedford) and a one-point loss (v Cornish Pirates). Doncaster won 37-32 at Pandy Park in round one.


Carmarthen Quins v Jersey

The winners of this tie can still go through as one of the best runners-up if Munster A and Cornish Pirates are well beaten. Jersey are on a four-game losing streak but won with a bonus point when the sides met back in October.

Leinster A v Plymouth Albion

To qualify as one of the top four seeds Leinster A need to pick up maximum points against Plymouth and hope that Bristol and Worcester fail to make it six wins on the spin. Leinster prevailed 31-24 when the sides met at Brickfields in round one/

All round six matches kick off at 2pm on Saturday, December 13.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Unbeaten Squirrels are building for the future

SUCCESS is something that has become customary at Rhiwbina in recent years and the forward-thinking club have outlined their vision to ensure that trend continues.

Rhiwbina 1st XV 2014/15
The Squirrels have started the current campaign in some style – winning their first seven games in Division One East – which follows on from three promotions in four seasons, while they also reached a Millennium Stadium final in the Swalec Plate last season.

But, despite that success, they aren’t resting on their laurels and intend to build on their achievements – both on and off the field – by implementing a new five-year plan.

The club’s long-serving chairman, Paul Maddocks, explained: “We want to build on our success of previous years to make sure the club is going to be sustainable in the future.

“There are four aspects to our five-year plan – legal, administration, social and playing.

“We’ve done a SWOT analysis of each of those aspects and identified around 30 actions that we want to build into the plan across those four areas.”

An integral part of that plan is the club’s continued development to developing their own talent – with a thriving minis section (aged 7-12), junior sides between ages 13-16 and youth rugby at U18.

Maddocks continued: “We want to ensure that we attract players to our junior sections as well and, in our role as a community club, also working closely with Rhiwbina Primary and other local schools. 

“An illustration of that success is that our under 10s are now back playing on the Rhiwbina Primary School field.

“They’ve got a squad of 25 players – coached by Jason Gibson and Robert Morgan – and played Llandaff North recently on the school field and won three and drew one of the four games that they played.

“That emphasises our links with the community, our commitment to our junior sections as we realise the importance of our junior sections in terms of our future.”

One player to pass through the club’s youth system is a certain Sam Warburton who, whilst going on play at the highest level for Wales and the British & Irish Lions, still maintains strong links with the north Cardiff club.

“He gives of his time quite freely in terms of presentations and charity events and that is what our youngsters can aspire to,” added Maddocks.

Captain Brett Chatwin scores against Quins

Those youth sides feed into the club's three senior sides, with Rhiwbina also running successful second and third teams in the Premiere and Division Two respectively of the Cardiff & District League, with both still undefeated and flying high. 

The club also say that, although they don’t run a women’s side at present, they are trying to encourage girls at U12 level.

After winning Two East last season, things could not have started much better this term for the first team, who are coached by Gareth Lintern and Jared Lougher – in their fifth season with the club – and are skippered by Brett Chatwin.

They trail rivals Penallta – who have also made a 100 per cent start - by just two points at the top of One East.

The two clubs clash at Cae Delyn in the league on December 20, but have also been paired together in the third round of the Plate and face off at Penallta seven days earlier for a place in the last 16.

Penallta won the Plate in 2012 while the Squirrels are attempting to reach back-to-back finals having lost out 29-26 to Merthyr last season.

“The trip to Rumney on Saturday followed by the two games against Penallta really does make it a season-defining three weeks coming up for us,” said club official John Humphreys.

“We’ve been able to maintain the momentum from last year with a young team against tougher opposition.

“Our aim this season was to maintain our status as a Division One club and push for the top three and we’re on the way to achieving that.”

Saturday, 29 November 2014

British & Irish Cup - Quins and Ponty predictions

All Wales Sport's CARL FIELD predicts the outcome of this afternoon's British & Irish Cup clash between Leinster A and Carmarthen Quins - as well as tomorrow's clash at Ashton Gate between Bristol and Pontypridd.

Leinster A v Carmarthen Quins (Pool Five, 1pm)

Carmarthen Quins – a composite Scarlets A side in all but name – stunned holders Leinster A in round three, after coming back from 21-3 down at half-time to win 26-24.

A last-gasp try from replacement prop Ben Leung and Frazier Climo's brilliant touchline conversion clinched a terrific victory.

But the Welsh side – who are being overseen by coach Ioan Cunningham – have their work cut out if they are to repeat that feat this afternoon.

Prediction: Leinster A by 8 points

Bristol v Pontypridd (Pool One, Sunday 3pm)

This is arguably the pick of the fourth round ties as Principality Premiership champions Pontypridd head to English Championship leaders Bristol.

It’s do or die for Ponty, who have to win at Ashton Gate to have any realistic chance of progressing.

Bristol go into Sunday's match sitting top the table on 13 points with Pontypridd four points off the pace in second.

A brace of tries from David Lemi and one from Luke Baldwin saw Bristol win 24-13 in front of nearly 6,000 at Sardis Road five weeks ago.

Prediction: Bristol by 4 points

Friday, 28 November 2014

British & Irish Cup predictions - tonight's games

All Wales Sport's CARL FIELD looks ahead to tonight's games involving Aberavon and Cross Keys in the British & Irish Cup.

Aberavon v Yorkshire Carnegie (Pool Two, 7.15pm)

On paper, this has got another heavy win for the English Championship side written all over it – five weeks on from their 13-try 85-0 dismantling of Jason Hyatt’s side in Hull.

But the Leeds-based outfit have been winless since and scored just three tries in the process.

They failed to score a point in a home defeat to Rotherham and then went down at Bedford before drawing with winless bottom side Plymouth at home last weekend.

Aberavon, meanwhile, have lost all four of their Principality Premiership games since and are rooted to the bottom of the table – although were much-improved against Cardiff a week ago, when they lost by just a point.

Those factors might offer a crumb of comfort for the Wizards, however their opponents this evening are a full-time professional outfit and I can’t see anything other than a heavy defeat for Aberavon.

Prediction: Yorkshire Carnegie by 40 points

Cross Keys v Cornish Pirates (Pool Four, 7.45pm)

Cross Keys will be looking to avenge their narrow 34-33 defeat at Pirates in round three when the sides clash again at Pandy Park this evening.

However, having lost two of their first three group games, Keys are unlikely to be repeating their run to the final of this competition back in 2011/12 – which included a semi-final win over the Pirates.

Pirates have been involved in three high-scoring matches so far with an average of 63 points scored per game – while also put 65 points on the board at home against Bedford in the league last weekend.

Keys’ last two games in this group have been decided by a single point, while they also sent Carmarthen Quins crashing to their first defeat of the league season last week.

This one has all the makings of a cracker - and I'm going for a Keys win, just.

Prediction: Cross Keys by 4 points