Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sub Setter at the double for Cardiff Met

Cardiff Met University 26 Glamorgan University 5

A LATE try double from replacement scrum-half Cameron Setter propelled Cardiff Met to a bonus-point win over Glamorgan at Cyncoed this afternoon, writes David Williams.

The hosts came from behind after an early Ben Cullen score but it wasn’t a totally convincing display from Cardiff in an error-strewn BUCS Premier South A League match in the Welsh capital.

For the home side it was a third win from four games this season while the loss was a fourth in a row  for pointless Glamorgan, who face a tough trip to Swansea next Wednesday.

Actually, it was Glamorgan that made the better start as they enjoyed the majority of the early possession and took a surprise lead when full-back Cullen came into the line and was on hand to touch down from close range. Matt Morgan missed the conversion.

After a shaky opening, Cardiff’s dominance up front began to show and despite fly-half Cooke missing a penalty the home pack won two scrums against the head in quick succession. It was a show of power that would continue throughout the match.

Cooke had a hand in Cardiff’s first try on 19 minutes when he fed flanker Tom Hall and the skipper burst through a couple of weak tackles to slide over. Cooke added the extras to make it 7-5.

Despite going in front, Cardiff’s game, and Glamorgan’s come to that, couldn’t flow as turnovers, knock-ons and some indifferent refereeing decisions made the encounter a frustrating stop-start affair.

Cooke missed a second penalty before the half was out but it was Glamorgan who again got out of the blocks the quicker when the second period got under way. Morgan came within inches of regaining the lead for his men when a scruffy drop-goal crashed against the crossbar and back into play.

Cardiff left wing Pierre Tucker looked dangerous throughout and he nearly got on the scoresheet but couldn’t quite chase down Jamie George’s kick ahead on the hour mark.

But from another Glamorgan scrum to go against the head, this time just five metres from their own line, Cardiff No 8 Patrick Roberts bulldozed his way over for Cooke to convert with around 10 minutes left.

Setter then went over for the third try a few minutes later, cutting through a gaping hole in the opposition defence to touch down, and Cooke slotted the easy conversion to make it 21-5. With the rain lashing down the hosts now went in search of the all-important fourth score.

They came close when replacement prop Jordan Saunders went on a Graham Price-esque run deep into Glamorgan territory but moments later Setter darted over from a quickly-taken tap penalty.

It wasn’t always pretty but another bonus-point victory puts Cardiff – away to Exeter in a week’s time – in a healthy position in the table while Glamorgan can take heart from their performance despite the defeat.

Man of the match – Tom Hall (Cardiff Met)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

'The Heart and Art of my Rugby Photography' Review

I received Paul Hart's 'The Heart and Art of My Rugby Photography' to review and I was immediately impressed by the 288 page hardback. The old cliché of 'never judge a book by its cover' doesn't ring true with this book - the layout and cover is very inviting to the eye and I was immediately intrigued at what pictures lay beyond.

As you delve inside, it is clear to see that Hart has immense talent with the lens and truly captures some outstanding images. Since the London Olympics, grassroots sport in Wales - and indeed the UK - has come under much closer scrutiny, especially in regards to how authorities can get more people involved in sport. Without people like Hart, who go out on Saturday afternoons - regardless of weather - to document and record, the bare bones of this great game could become inconspicuous all too quickly.

The book is separated into two main sections: Rugby Action and Rugby People, with both of these divided into a number of sub sections.
In the Action section, my favourite pictures tend to come from 'Action favourites' and 'Rugby hits' as, as Hart rightly states in the intro, due to the nature of shooting live sport, you never get the same shot twice and that intensity is evident.

In the Action section, the opening photo (see above) of Wick captain Joe Barnes tackling his Bridgend Sports opposition is a particular highlight of mine. Indeed, the shot could come 
straight from a high-end sports advert - Barnes' unequivocal determination is captured perfectly in his face; as he takes down the opposition, his forearm reads 'No half measures'. Another brilliant shot captures Sports player Pete Roberts on his way to score in photo 010, the elation on both his and those faces of the supporters behind him embodies the unprecedented joy rugby can bring.

The Hits section definitely lives up to the billing 'Rugby isn't a contact sport, it's a collision sport' with picture 035 my pick. This particular photo shows Jamie Lorimer putting a would-be tackler to the floor, the pure aggression on his face coupled with the SW Police player mid-air drew my attention time and again.
 ‘The highs and lows’ section for me epitomises the game completely. The entire chapter captures what sport and indeed rugby is all about: taking the highs with the lows and enjoying playing the game you love - be it union or league - with the sections 'favourite faces', smile for the camera' and 'celebrations' particularly emotive in this regard. The 'Big Hitters' section is full of characters who I wouldn't fancy bumping into in a dark alley - photo 173 capturing Lee 'Stella' Steelmach of Bridgend Sports my photo of the section.

Being from the Bridgend area and an active member of grassroots rugby through playing, coaching and refereeing, I was pleased to see grounds and people I recognised in the rugby vitals section of the book.

All in all, I think the book would make an ideal gift for any grassroots rugby enthusiast in Wales. It is a picture book by design, but functions on a much deeper level than just a collection of photographs: it tells the story of players and clubs involved and you also go on a personal journey with Hart through his pictures. As a nation, we are extremely passionate and perhaps this is why we love rugby so much and that passion and energy is perfectly conveyed in this book; the elation of winning, the heartache of loss, that collision of two people trying to impose their will on another.

If there is one small criticism I have of the book it would be the locality; I would have liked to have seen a wider array of areas and people covered. That being said, however, you have to acknowledge the great work Hart has done, not only in covering these matches but also getting the book published, enabling him to share the great relationships he has built that has ultimately helped to make such unique rugby photos possible.

 Packed with pictures from both codes of rugby, it is priced at just £20 - You can buy ‘The Heart and Art of My Rugby Photography’ here 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Monmouth move into thrid round at Ton Pentre's expense

Monmouth Town surged into the third round of the Nathaniel Car Sales Cup following an impressive 2-0 success over division one rivals Ton Pentre.
The Gwent side got off to the perfect start thanks to an early strike by Nick Harrhy, and the former Carmarthen Town striker secured safe passage to the next round with his second ten minutes from time.
The reward for Monmouth is a home tie against Risca in what promises to be a tasty all-Gwent showdown.
Meanwhile in division one, West End were held to a 1-1 draw by Bryntirion and surrendered their briefly held leadership to AFC Porth, who ground out a 2-0 win at battling Aberdare Town.
Shane Davies scored from the penalty spot to give Porth a deserved lead, and Geraint Williams added the second to secure the points and send the Rhondda club back to the summit.
Reigning champions Cambrian & Clydach remain just one point behind as they posted an emphatic 4-1 win over Goytre United. James Mahoney grabbed a brace and was ably assisted by strikes from Scott Seldon and Dane Williams.
Haverfordwest County and Taffs Well took home a share of the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 encounter at Bridge Meadow, while in the basement battle, Cwmbran Celtic defeated Tata Steel 3-2 thanks to goals from Josh Bull, Mike Dewar and Dominic Connor to move off the bottom.
Division Two pacemakers Goytre were 2-0 victors at Newport YMCA, courtesy of an early strike from Luke Prosser and a second half effort from Ricky Jeremiah. They have now opened up a nine point gap, with closest challengers Briton Ferry Llansawel going down 3-2 at Ammanford.
Honours were even in the Ely clash, with Caerau and Rangers finishing all square at 1-1.
Elsewhere, there was nothing to chose between the top two in Division Three as Pontypridd and AFC Llwydcoed finished deadlocked at 2-2. Nathan White and a Darren Cullen penalty were Town’s scorers, with Andy Hammett and Ryan Barry replying for the Cynon Valley visitors. In an ill-tempered second half, Ponty were reduced to nine men as Gary Gunstone and Nathan White received their marching orders, with Llwydcoed’s Matthew Docherty also seeing red.
Cardiff Met narrowed the gap at the top by virtue of a 4-0 trouncing of Treowen Stars. Finally, Risca United remain the only unbeaten side in the division following an impressive 4-1 win over Tredegar Town, with the goals shared between Russell Scott, Rob Aldridge, Ian Turner and Liam Kidman.

Another crazy weekend of Welsh Premiership Action

It was another crazy weekend of Welsh Premiership Rugby: there were cards galore, shock results and a severe case of déjà vu.
Leaders Llandovery surely headed to the Talbot Athletic Ground confident of claiming their seventh straight bonus point win. At the start of the day, there were 24 points and ten places between themselves and their hosts Aberavon but at the end of the 80 minutes, there was nothing to chose between the sides with the score tied 28-28.
It was always a tight affair at Aberavon, who led 19-15 at the break after some excellent kicking by fly-half Jamie Davies, who bagged 14 first-half points through four penalties and the conversion of a John Phillips try.
Davies also went on to land two more penalties after the interval and convert a Joe Heatley touchdown.
Llandovery had the edge in the second half, however, as Adam Warren and Shaun Miles scored tries within five minutes of each other and Rhys Jones converted both of them and put over a penalty.
In an unbelievable encounter at Pandy Park, 59 points were scored: there were six yellow cards, one red card and just two tries, but ultimately, the only statistic that mattered was that Bedwas won out 31-28 over Cross Keys.
Bedwas raced into a 25-10 half time lead thanks to a Stuart Thomas try and 20 points from the boot of Richard Powell, as Cross Keys struggled through the majority of the first half with a numerical disadvantage. Garry Horrigan, Dan Hodge and Aled James were all sinbinned for the hosts, while Matthew John was yellow carded for Bedwas.
In the second half, it was Bedwas that fell foul of the referee with replacement James Richards given a straight red for a high tackle, while Simon Grainger was sinbinned moments later.
The Keys began to close the gap on the visitors with Gunter adding to his first half penalty and conversion with six more penalties. However, it was the boot of Powell that was to have the final say as he slotted his eighth penalty of the day in the dying moments to seal the win.
There must have been a severe case of déjà vu for many of the Swansea and Carmarthen supporters as, a week after Quins dispatched the All Whites 41-17 at Carmarthen Park, they secured the same result at St Helens.
Winger Jason Harrier stole the show with a well-taken hat-trick as the Quins crossed for six tries in all, while Mefin Davies’ men now sit bottom after just one win in eight.
Llanelli visited the capital hoping to end Cardiff’s three match winning run at home, and they did just that, comfortably defeating their hosts 38-17.
The West Walians were also in control after Justin James’ touchdown cancelled out an early drop-goal from the boot of Gareth Davies, with Steffan Hughes and Kristian Phillips also crossing for the visitors in the first period.
Llanelli left it late to secure the try bonus point with replacement Kyle Evans going over in injury time to add some polish to the win, Owen Williams meanwhile notched up 18 points with the boot.
For Cardiff, it is their fourth straight defeat in all competitions and will next meet Neath at the Arms Park next Saturday as the two once great Welsh clubs scrap for much-needed points.
By the same token, Neath suffered their sixth defeat losing out 13-8 to Bridgend Ravens in a scrappy affair at the Gnoll.
Outside half Jamie Murphy was the hero of the day for the Ravens as he collected all of his side's points. The visitors raced into a 10-0 lead through a penalty and a converted try, but Neath narrowed the gap just before the break through a Dai Langdon penalty.
After the interval, Murphy restored Bridgend’s ten point lead before Gareth Gravell grabbed what proved to be a late consolation try for the hosts.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Swalec Bowl Round Up

Defending Champions Glyncoch extended their astonishing unbeaten streak in competitive rugby to 40 matches as they comfortably saw off Barry 27-14
The Five South Central leaders once again dispatched a higher league opposition, with the enigmatic Shaun Baggs the stand out performer for the Glync’s, touching down while also adding two conversions and a penalty.

Last year’s beaten finalists New Tredegar also remain on course to make a return trip to the Millennium Stadium as they convincingly defeated Hollybush 39-7.
The Newts crossed five times with Michael Vaughan grabbing a brace, while Rhys Challeuder, Keiron Harris and Gavin Ferguson also went over.

Cardiff University capitalised on receiving a bye in the previous round to defeat Treherbert 26-7, Jack Neville and Andy Evans both crossed twice for the students.

Treharris of Six South Central claimed the scalp of Four East’s Machen with a hard-fought 15-6 home win, as Dan O’Neil and Steve Biggins were the touchdown heroes for the hosts.

Rhosllanerchrugog also pulled off a giant killing as they saw off visiting Llanidloes 39-19. Rhos hit their visitors for six with Simon Hughes, Chris Williams and Mark Whitley amongst the try scorers.
In an all-Four West clash, hosts Llanybydder got the better of Laugharne 22-11 thanks to two Gary Evans tries and a score for Rhydian Davies.

James Webster notched up 21 points for Abercwmboi as they dispatched Cefn Coed 41-12, while Wayne William crossed twice for Penybanc as they caused something of an upset with a 27-6 success against Betws.

No 8 Craig Cox grabbed a hat-trick in Pontrhydyfen’s 29-10 away win at Bridgend Sports as Five South Central beat Four South West, and Rhys Edwards scored two of Nantgaredig’s six tries in a 42-13 demolition of Tregaron.

Elsewhere, Four East’s Monmouth thrashed Abersychan 76-7, and Jon Ketland was Shotton’s hat-trick hero as he crossed three times in a 52-0 drubbing of Porthmadog.

Swalec Plate Round Up

Holders Penallta will be hoping history repeats itself, after they defeated Ynysybwl in the Swalec Plate for the second year running to progress to the next round with a 39-17 home victory.

The Pitmen, who have an astounding 23 players out through injury, put in a determined performance as they crossed the whitewash five times through Neil Roberts (2), Rhys Stephens, Matthew Williams and Rhys Watkins.

In an all One West showdown, it is Kenfig Hill who live to fight another day after they overcame rivals Glynneath 30-24 in a highly entertaining encounter at Groft Goch.
The Mules crossed the whitewash on four occasions through Tom Briggs, David Williams, Mark Fitzgerald and Nicky Giles, who also added ten crucial points with the boot.
Glynneath, who were beaten finalists two years ago, were restricted to a penalty try, a Greg Roberts touchdown and 14 points from outside half Cory Jones.

Three South East highfliers Pontyclun were unable to upset the apple cart as they went down 24-12 to Maesteg.
The Llynfi Valley side ran in four tries, with Grant Epton starring for the visitors claiming a well-taken double.

In a feisty affair at the Rec, One West side Waunarlwydd were made to work for their 17-11 win against local rivals Penclawdd.
Waun were trailing 11-10 with only minutes remaining, but a final minute Matthew Wedlake converted try broke the hosts' hearts. Alan Pope also crossed for the visitors while Josh Hammett added seven points with the boot.

There was no such trouble for Carmarthen Athletic as they clinically dispatched lower league Pontyberem 89-3.
Speedster Adam Davies helped himself to four tries with Ifan Beynon Thomas claiming a hat-trick, while Scott Maynard bagged 25 points through ten conversions and a touchdown of his own.
Kidwelly hooker Osian Lloyd proved hard to stop all afternoon

Kidwelly also made comfortable progress with an 85-14 annihilation of Haverfordwest.
The Black and Ambers were completely dominant as they ran in 13 tries, with braces for Dafydd Lewis, Jason Smith, Andy Francis and Robin Davies, while Gareth Rees had an excellent day with the boot landing ten conversions.

Hvaerfordwest struggled to find any gaps in the Kidwelly defence.

Rhydyfelin were pushed all the way by Division Two side Senghenydd before triumphing 21-19. The One East outfit will be breathing a sigh of relief after trailing for the majority of the match, but two second half tries from Dylan Hughes and 11 points from the boot of Gavin Close ensured they will be in the second round draw.

 In the Llanelli derby, Felinfoel took home the bragging rights thanks to a 51-3 triumph at Llanelli Wanderers.
Foel dominated the one-sided match as they ran in eight tries, Owen Poolman and Elliot Dawe crossing twice.

Rhiwbina came out on top in an all Two East clash claiming their place in the second round with a narrow 15-10 home success over Fleur de Lys.
The Squirrels' Richard Saltmarsh was the hero of the tie, picking up ten of his side's points including a touchdown, while Josh Davies also crossed.

Loughor were given a scare at Gorseinon before eventually subduing their hosts 31-20. The Blues had to play the majority of the match with only 14 men after Johnny Bowen was dismissed for his part in a scuffle, but late tries from captain Jonathan Phillips and lock Joe Thompson sealed the deal for the visitors.

Caerphilly failed to roll back the years as they were beaten 54-12 at One East side Rumney. The hosts were on top throughout, helping themselves to eight tries with Michael Kelly and Paul King bagging braces.

Division Two side Abercynon were no match for Treorchy at the Oval with the Zebras running out 51-0 winners.
Trsytan Lazarus ran riot picking up a hat-trick, while Corey Dunne, John Lloyd, Rhys Gillard, Ross Jones, Peter Hutchings and Gavin Daniel also went over.

Meanwhile, Three East strugglers Tredegar Ironsides were demolished by Two East highfliers Pill Harriers 64-0. The Harriers made light work of their opposition crossing for ten tries, with scrum half Kyle Scrivers claiming a hat-trick, while second row Ryan Madsen and Gareth Hassle grabbed doubles.

Bargoed see lead cut after Tata draw

Pacemakers Bargoed saw their lead cut to two points at the top of the Championship, as they failed to win for the first time this season and instead having to settle for a 28-28 draw at Tata Steel.

The Blues, who have so far blown all opposition away, looked on course for a routine win as they led 23-13 at the break, but an inspired second half performance from the hosts ensured Tata ended the day with a share of the spoils.

However, Bargoed did outscore their rivals four tries to three - which ensured they also clinched a try bonus point - thanks to touchdowns from Lewis Protheroe (2), Gareth Dare and James Pizey.

Normal service was resumed at Ebbw Vale meanwhile, as they recovered from their shock loss at Whitland last week to clinically dispatch Beddau 36-0 at Eugene Cross Park.

Speedster Wes Cunliffe was the star man for the Steelmen racing in a hat-trick, while there were also tries for Josh Lewis, Spencer Gibson and Dan Haymond.

The Wanderers' Haval Ibrahim is held by the Students' defence

In a high scoring contest, Cardiff Met convincingly saw off Glamorgan Wanderers 42-28 at the Memorial Ground.

The Students are starting to purr along nicely and were too strong for the hosts, running in five tries through wing Pierre Tucker (2), Sam Cross, Miles Normandale and Adam Lewis, while Matt O’Brien notched up 17 points with the boot.

The Wanderers didn’t end the day empty handed, however, as they chalked up a bonus point thanks to tries from Ross Gibbon, Ed Doe, Owen Marshall and Ianto Griffiths.

Meanwhile, Whitland could not reproduce the performance that saw them defeat Ebbw Vale last week as they went down 26-12 at third placed Newbridge.

Newbridge’s Dan Mock had a début to remember as he grabbed a double for the hosts, while Ryan Lee and Trevor James also crossed.

In a try fest at the Lewis Lloyd Ground, Narberth triumphed 41-27 over Bridgend Athletic in a match where defending was at a premium. The Otters ran in six tries in total with Jonny Morgan grabbing a brace, while Athletic left with a bonus point after they crossed four times.

Elsewhere, Matthew McGovern scored a hat-trick and Ethan Davies contributed 22 points as Blackwood beat Bonymaen 42-29 at Glan-yr-Afon Park. The visitors managed to salvage a bonus point thanks to tries for Rob Ford, Nathan Brooks, Dan Griffiths and Richard Jones.

In the day's other fixture, both Pontypool and Llanharan ended the day with 14 men while three more players were yellow carded in a feisty affair at Pontypool Park, but it was the Dairyman that left with the win, squeaking to a 24-23 victory.

A 30 man brawl erupted on the half hour mark which saw Keiron Dineen dismissed for the hosts, while Callum Thomas saw red for the Dairymen.

The visitors, who had lost their last few matches on the bounce, crossed four times with captain Nathan Huish leading by example with a brace.

Pooler nearly sneaked the win at the end, however, as Luke Dychkoff crossed late on to grant them the chance to steal it with the conversion, but unfortunately for them it failed to find the target.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Championship predictions week 9

Blackwood v Bonymaen
Neither of these sides have really got going so far and if their form continues, they will be scrapping it out to remain in the Championship come the end of the season. Blackwood did pick up their second win last week having given a good account of themselves at Glan yr Afon so far, and will be hoping for another strong home performance tomorrow. Bony will take heart in the fact that they came within a whisker of getting a result against Newbridge last weekend and will need to reproduce that kind of form away from home if they are to pick up anything tomorrow.
Verdict - Blackwood by 3 point
Ebbw Vale v Beddau
The Steelmen suffered a double blow last week, losing Coach Neil Edwards and losing out to Whitland. However, you have to feel for Beddau in this scenario as Jason Strange will demand an immediate response after their loss at basement boys Whitland and I think the Steelmen will produce.
Verdict - Ebbw Vale by 25 points 
Glamorgan Wanderers v Cardiff Met
The Wanderers will be looking to build on their win at Bridgend Athletic last week, as they look to put a bit of distance between themselves and the lower echelons of the league, but will face a stern test in Cardiff Met. The students will be happy with their start to life with a 50% record and were convincing winners against Llanharan last week. I think this will be a closely fought contest, but I’m going to plump for a win for the Wanderers.
Verdict - Glamorgan Wanderers by 3 points 
Narberth v Bridgend Athletic
After being outclassed at Bargoed Park last week, the Otters will be desperate to return to winning ways if they are to be anywhere in the mix for the title come the end of the season. Fortunately for Narbeth, I don't think Bridgend will cause them too many problems tomorrow.
Verdict - Narberth by 10 points
Newbridge v Whitland
Newbridge didn’t look their usual free flowing best last weekend but still scraped a win, while the Borderers bagged the scalp of the season as they defeated Ebbw Vale. The big question will be can Whitland reproduce the same level of performance as last week? Personally, I don't think they will, but if outside half Nico Setaro can continue his fine fettle with the boot, it will be close.
Verdict - Newbridge by 10 points
Pontypool v Llanharan
After a quick start to the season, the Dairymen have lost their last three matches, while Pooler are understandably struggling this season. Llanharan should be too strong for their hosts but after the result at Whitland last week, they won’t be taking Pooler lightly.
Verdict - Llanharan by 15 points
Tata Steel v Bargoed
Undoubtedly the clash of the day. On paper, the pacemakers Bargoed will have to start as favourites as they are the only side that remains unbeaten in the league. If Bargoed are indeed to win the title this year, however, these next two weeks will go a long way in helping them do just that, but Tata have really grown into the competition over the last few weeks and their efficient pack will cause problems for all sides. If Tata can get their noses in front, the home support may just pull them through.
Verdict - Tata Steel by 2 points.


Welsh sports fans and players are being urged to think before they drink in Alcohol Concern Cymru’s latest campaign: ‘Don’t Let Booze Ruin The Result’.

A survey carried out by the charity found that 78% of amateur sportspeople in Wales have played sport with a hangover, and 85% of Welsh sports fans say they drink every time they watch their favourite sport.

The campaign is designed to get sports fans and players thinking about how excessive drinking can ruin a good day’s sport.

Andrew Misell at Alcohol Concern Cymru said:

“Sport is big in Wales, and often goes hand in hand with big-time drinking. We want to challenge the idea that sport and alcohol have to go together – whether we’re watching sport at the ground, in the pub, or on the sofa; or if we’re taking part on the pitch or socialising with teammates afterwards.

“For many of us, cheering on our favourite team is often accompanied by a few drinks, but when you’re watching an afternoon’s sport it’s easy to overdo it. As well as a sore head in the morning, too much booze can leave you struggling to remember great sporting moments, as well wishing you could forget your own drunken behaviour.”

As well as encouraging fans to think about whether they’d enjoy the game more with less alcohol, Alcohol Concern is urging local sports clubs and players to pledge not to let booze ruin the result for themselves and the rest of the team. 

Andrew Misell continued:

“For those of us who play sport, alcohol can be a big part of the social life of our local club or team. Whilst enjoying a few drinks the night before a match or celebrating a win with teammates can feel like an ideal way to relax and unwind, overdoing it can ruin the result for you and your team, leaving you tired, dehydrated and performing well below your best.”

Every local team or club that signs up to the campaign will receive a pack containing branded water bottles, plus posters and facts and tips on how to enjoy a drink without letting the side down. They will also be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a coaching session for their team with a top Welsh coach.

Welsh athlete Jamie Baulch, said:

“It has become the norm to drink with friends during big sporting events, and many people have a few drinks to socialise with their teammates if they play sport.

“We’ve become used to seeing how alcohol and sport are paired together through marketing and club sponsorship. In reality sport and alcohol are not always a good match, and if you want to enjoy playing sport, low alcohol is often the key to high performance.

“I’m used to working hard to ensure that I’m as fit as possible to compete at the highest level. I’d say anyone who’s serious about their sport needs to consider whether cutting down on drinking could drive up their game.”

Paul Thorburn, ex-Wales rugby captain, said:

“Traditionally, there has always been a place for alcohol in sport, whether as a spectator who might drink before, during and after a game, or a player who celebrates a win after a competition. 

“Sport has always been recognised as a great medium to interact and engage with people, and throughout my career in professional rugby where I have had many enjoyable years, I have seen the close association between alcohol and sport.

“We have to make sure however, that enjoyment in alcohol by both participants and spectators is in moderation, and does not break the boundaries of good social interaction, friendship, fun and health.”

Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales, said 
“We have seen through such a spectacular summer of sport how dedication and commitment to drinking and eating the right things can bring positive results. Participating in sport has so many health benefits that should be embraced by individuals, their families and friends alike – particularly as role models to children and young people.”

Dr Rhodri Martin, sports and exercise physician, said:
“It's widely known and accepted in elite sport that alcohol and sport are not a good combination. Drinking alcohol before, during and after playing sport is damaging and can really affect your performance.

“Even just a couple of drinks the night before can affect your ability to regulate your blood sugar levels - essential for optimal performance. Studies show your performance level can drop by up to 25% if you drink the night prior to exercise.

“Drinking alcohol immediately prior to sport can alter your awareness, balance and fine motor control. Alcohol also dehydrates you, which is another cause of fatigue and poor performance in sport. Historically there is a drinking culture following participating in certain sports, however at the elite level this custom has disappeared due to the appreciation of the significant delay it has on your recovery. The poor quality sleep and the sub-optimal utilisation of nutrients are mechanisms by which recovery is delayed.

“If you've been injured playing sport, drinking afterwards can be really dangerous and lead to complications in your recovery.”

Dr Carwyn Jones from Cardiff School of Sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said:

Despite the association between health and sport, binge drinking continues to be closely associated with both watching and playing sport.

“During the coverage of the Olympic Games journalists seemed as preoccupied with how the athletes were celebrating their successes, with constant references to drinking, hangovers and parties. Coverage of Andy Murray's victory in the US masters focused on his abstinence, with journalists hell-bent on getting him to drink, suggesting that such an occasion needs drink.

“Sport perpetuates the idea that alcohol is compulsory for celebrating, bonding, letting off steam and so on.

“What’s more, young people often experience their first drink as a right of passage at the rugby or cricket club and many clubs use alcohol in initiation ceremonies.”

Anne Hamilton, general manager of the Welsh Sports Association, said:
Many people enjoy a drink as a way to celebrate or commiserate with their teammates after a game.  It is important that this is kept within safe limits so that the both the sport and its associated social experience continue to be healthy and fun.  Sports clubs with heavy drinking cultures risk negatively impacting their performance as well as the friendships within a team.  They also risk discouraging new participants who find the pressure to drink and the resulting unruly behaviour unappealing.”

If you would like to pledge not to let booze ruin the result, email, visit the website , follow us on Twitter @drinkwisewales or like us on Facebook

Rugby at Pontypridd

The Annual Rememberance match between Crawshay’s Welsh and the Combined Services will take place at Sardis Road, Pontypridd on Wednesday, November 7 (kick-off 7.15pm).

Crawshays Team of 1926

 It will be the 15th season of the Rememberance Rugby Event and monies raised will go towards the Help the Heroes Campaign and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
The Combined Services management are planning to compliment the evening's rugby with a Service band, a precision drill demonstration and music from the Military Wives Choir Foundation, who will sing at both the official reception and in the Supporters Bar.
The Chairman of the CSRU, Air Vice Marshal Ray Lock, said: "The Remembrance Rugby Event has something for anyone who supports rugby, our Armed Forces or The Royal British Legion. The men representing the Services have all served on operations in recent years and this is their opportunity to show their team work and prowess on the sports field.
“I hope that people will lend their support to the game and I can promise the spectators some fine rugby and a very warm welcome".

Thursday, 25 October 2012

'Shadow' The Dai Morris Story- Review

“Shadow” was the nickname bestowed on Dai Morris by Gareth Edwards because of the support his flanker could always provide and that is the title of a new book compiled by writer and broadcaster Martyn Williams.

Morris is one of the great unsung heroes of Welsh rugby and this biography of him is long overdue, as those who gathered in Rhigos rugby club for the book launch – including WRU president Dennis Gethin and entertainer Max Boyce - all agreed.

The last of his type, putting in a shift underground before turning up for international matches, Dai Morris was described by former Wales captain Clive Rowlands as “the perfect rôle model”.

In the book, he comes across not just as the ideal rugby player but also as a one-man animal rescue unit as well as one-time racehorse owner. He is revered in the village of his birth as the doyen of Rhigos rugby football club, the club for whose re-emergence after the war years he was mainly responsible.

So engrossed with his home was Dai Morris that on tours outside the UK his watch was always set to Rhigos time so that he would know exactly what was going on in the village. This self-confessed weakness, a dislike of being away from home, may have been a contributory reason why he was not chosen to join the winning Lions’ 1971 tour of New Zealand.

Reference is made to the near-telepathic understanding between Baz, Shadow and Swerve - John Taylor and Morris, with Merv Davies at no 8 - which of its era was the most potent back row combination in rugby. The job of the flankers was to make the opposition turn inside where Merv would invariably be waiting.

So uncomplicated was the man that, called up for his first cap to replace the injured Alun Pask in Paris, he had to report that he had no passport. With no wish to fly, he eventually made his way by boat to link up with the team.

Nevertheless, he has some trenchant views on modern rugby: “now more about retention than exploitation”.

Winner of 34 Wales caps and similarly proud of his 414 games for Neath, Dai Morris was every inch the working class hero. Tributes from contemporaries including Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, John Dawes, Barry John and Phil Bennett are included in this highly entertaining biography.

ISBN: 9781847714862
Review Courtesy of Barri Hurford

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Cardiff land first blow on the road to Varsity

Cardiff University RFC landed the first blow on the road to the Welsh Varsity with a hard-fought 22-10 win over Swansea at Llanrumney, a victory that sees them extend their unbeaten run against their bitter rivals to four matches.

In a fiercely contested match, it was Cardiff’s centre duo of Max Woodward and captain Ross Wardle that shone through, as the hosts outscored the Green and Whites three tries to one.

It was a taut and tense affair from the outset with both sides trying to establish their authority over proceedings, but it was the Red and Black’s that launched a string of attacks with loose kicking from the Swansea outside half Josh Hammet allowing Cardiff full back Elliot Jones to launch a number of threatening counter attacks.

The Swansea line, however, stood with back row Reuben Tucker and prop Nicky Thomas making monster hits to keep the opposition at bay. The visitors did begin to settle down and the back three of Jackson Szabo, Andrew Claypole and Glen Lewis looked dangerous with the ball in hand.

Just before the interval, however, Cardiff began to turn the screw and three penalties in quick succession in the Swansea 22 surely should have brought a card for the visitors but referee Kelvin Shorte failed to produce even a warning. 

The Red and Blacks were desperate to make their abundance of territory and possession pay and were getting closer and closer. Back row James Thomas made hard yards before fly half Matt Purssell was held up short after a cute show and go, while Ben Mitchell had to produce a huge hit to stop Wardle in his tracks.

Another infringement from the Swansea forwards saw Cardiff kick to the corner with a cleverly rehearsed lineout, catching the visitors’ defence asleep, allowing flanker Rhys Luckwell to dive over and take a deserved 5-0 advantage into the break.

Swansea struck first after the interval with Hammett on target with a penalty but an injury to prop James Ben saw a lengthy delay as he was removed from the field.

After getting themselves back into the game, Richard Lancaster’s men failed to claim the restart and immediately handed the impetus back to Cardiff. The Green and Whites once again impinged at the breakdown, with Purssell making no mistake from the tee.

It then went from bad to worse for the Green and Whites when scrum half George Hardy should have mopped up Howell’s hack through, but the bounce evaded him and Woodward pounced for his side’s second of the afternoon. Purssell added the extras to take a 15-3 lead.

Cardiff were now well and truly in the ascendancy but some great link-up play from Jack Perkins and James McWilliams-Grey saw Swansea them make a rare foray into the opposition 22. The ball was recycled quickly with Hammett throwing a miss pass to Szabo, who timed his run perfectly to slice through and go over unopposed for a converted try.

With the game firmly on a knife edge, both sides knew the next score would prove crucial – Woodward burst through midfield scything passed defenders to set up Wardle, who still had work to do to cross out wide to put the game to bed. 

Swansea never gave up and should have crossed again after a lovely break from Hammett saw his floated pass just elude Claypole and so the chance went begging. The Green and Whites continued to threaten but a strong display from the Cardiff defence muted any attack.

Star Man – Max Woodward

Cardiff: E Jones, J Waters, R Wardle, M Woodward, R Howell, M Purssell, B Phillips, J Ben, J Sould, B Thayer, J Sawyer, N Huntley, G Lee, R Luckwell, J Thomas. Reps- A Rees, R May, B Egan, A Devereaux, J Neville, M Lesis, J Flower, M O’Connor.

Tries: R Luckwell 31, M Woodward 53, R Wardle 64. Cons: M Purssell 54, 65. Pens: M Purssell 47.

Swansea:J Szabo, G Lewis, B Mitchell, J Bartlett, A Claypole, J Hammett, G Hardy, J Kaijaks, M Beddows, N Thomas, A Scanlon, J Walker, J McWilliams-Grey, J Perkins, R Tucker. Reps- S McDonnell-Roberts, S Jones, G George, Tim Connolly J Wolfe, J Guy, I Griffiths, E Jones.

Tries: J Szabo 57. Cons: J Hammett 57. Pens: Hammett 44.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Welsh Premiership weekend predictions

Aberavon v Llandovery

Top visits bottom on Saturday afternoon and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone, Aberavon supporters included, that thinks the Wizards will be able to get the better of the unbeaten league leaders.

Llandovery should win and they’ll be targeting yet another four-try bonus point but after pushing Munster ‘A’ close in the British & Irish Cup last weekend there is hope for Aberavon and it may well not be the cricket score that most might be predicting.

Verdict – Llandovery by 17 points

Cardiff v Llanelli

Even with a couple of Blues players in the squad, Cardiff were pretty hopeless against Bridgend last time out and if they play anything like that at home to Llanelli they’ll be on the end of another hiding.

The sides can’t be separated when it comes to the league having won four, lost three and picked up three bonus points to find themselves level with each other on 19 points.

Verdict – Llanelli by seven points

Cross Keys v Bedwas

These rivals meet at Pandy Park on the back of two successive defeats in the B&I Cup which wasn’t in keeping with their league form – Bedwas are third, Keys are fourth.

Keys always tend to play better at home though so that factor should come in to play and they will have the extra incentive of knowing that victory would send them above the visitors in the table.

Expect it to be tight though as these two also share the same record so far this season of five wins and two losses.

Verdict – Cross Keys by six points

Neath v Bridgend

Impressive wins last Saturday would have boosted the confidence of both sets of players no end after indifferent openings to the league campaign, particularly Neath.

Jamie Murphy was on top form with the boot for Bridgend against Cardiff so Neath will have to be wary that if they don’t keep their discipline they could well be punished.

Verdict – Neath by eight points

Swansea v Carmarthen Quins

It’s typical of the fixture computer that a week after these two met in the cup they should be going at it again in the league, albeit at St Helen’s on this occasion.

Quins racked up 40 points reasonably comfortably in Carmarthen last Friday night, winning 41-17, so although they’re at home, Swansea start as second favourites.

Mefin Davies is likely to field a much changed line-up on Saturday but there’ll have to be a vast improvement if his men are to get anything from this one.

Verdict – Quins by 10 points

Newport v Pontypridd (Sunday)

Like the top match, this one appears to be a straight-forward win for the visitors as they try to keep pace with Llandovery at the top of the table.

But again, like Aberavon, Newport go into it following a confidence-boosting display at Cross Keys in the cup. Unlike Aberavon, they managed to win and if they can get the home support behind them they could pose Pontypridd a couple of problems, but not enough to triumph.

Verdict – Pontypridd by 12 points

By David Williams

Home comforts for West End in last 16 of League Cup

WELSH League leaders West End will host second division Caerau (Ely) in the third round of the Nathaniel Car Sales League Cup on Saturday, November 24.

There are two all-division one ties in the last 16 as AFC Porth, currently third in the league, travel to Aberdare Town and Taffs Well entertain Goytre United.

Treharris Athletic Western, the lowest ranked side left in the competition, have home advantage when they take on fellow third division club Llanwern while league rivals Risca United have top tier opposition.

They are away to the winners of the tie between Monmouth Town and Ton Pentre, which takes place this Saturday. Elsewhere, Ely Rangers of division two go to Bryntirion Athletic looking to spring a surprise as do Cwmaman Institute when they visit Bridgend Town.

Finally, two second division clubs square off in Caldicot where Undy Athletic are the visitors. All games kick-off at 1.30pm.

Nathaniel Car Sales League Cup third round draw;

Aberdare Town v AFC Porth

Bridgend Town v Cwmaman Institute

Bryntirion Athletic v Ely Rangers

Caldicot Town v Undy Athletic

Monmouth Town or Ton Pentre v Risca United

Taffs Well v Goytre United

Treharris Athletic Western v Llanwern

West End v Caerau (Ely)

Ties to be played on Saturday, November 24.

Young to take charge of Baa-Baas for Lions clash in Far East

THE Barbarians have invited Dai Young to be their head coach for the historic fixture against the British & Irish Lions in Hong Kong next June.

The match marks the climax of the club’s summer tour of 2013 which kicks-off with the fixture against England at Twickenham on May 26.

Young, director of rugby at London Wasps, will be in charge of the squad for the full tour and will have former Wales and Lions forward Derek Quinnell alongside him as team manager.

Between them, Young and Quinnell went on six Lions tours as players and both played for the Barbarians against international opposition.

“On behalf of my colleagues on the Barbarian committee it was a pleasure for me to invite David Young to be our coach again and we’re delighted that he accepted the opportunity with such good grace,” said Quinnell.

“I have worked with him before – though it seems a long time ago that I was in the Wales coaching set-up with Tony Gray and we sent for Dai to join our squad for the quarter-final of the first World Cup in 1987.

“He was a young 19-year-old prop at the time but was equal to the task and two years later he was back in Australia with the Lions and an automatic choice for the test team that won the series.

“The other great thing about Dai is that as a player and now an experienced and successful coach he understands what makes the Barbarians tick and fully respects and furthers the traditions of our club.”

Young coached the Barbarians to victories over England and Wales in 2011 and added: “I have been privileged to coach the Barbarians on three previous summer tours in recent years but never mind how many times I am invited it is always an honour and one that I cherish.

“It is also a big responsibility to uphold the traditions of the Barbarians and to get the best out of the fantastic group of players they invariably assemble for these matches.

“This will be even more so next summer. The annual game against England is a big enough occasion it itself but to play the Lions on the first match of their own major tour is really a case of the icing on the cake. It promises to be a tremendous tour and all those of us involved will be committed to making it a big success.”

The Barbarians and Lions have played each other once before – at Twickenham in 1977 in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Quinnell was in the Lions XV that day as was his opposite number next year in Hong Kong in his role as manager of the Lions, ex-Scotland full-back Andy Irvine.

On that occasion the Lions defeated the Barbarians 23-14 in front of a capacity 60,000 crowd. Next June in Hong Kong the return match promises to be another glamorous and memorable occasion.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cheltenham the reward if Newport see off brave Yate

NEWPORT County will face a trip to Cheltenham Town in the first round proper of the FA Cup if they can see off minnows Yate Town in a replay at Rodney Parade on Tuesday night.

The Blue Square Bet Premier leaders were on the verge of being dumped out of the competition yesterday before two late goals salvaged a 3-3 draw against the Evo-Stick Southern League side.

Tony James’s header four minutes into injury-time saved Newport’s blushes and they now hope to get the job done in midweek ahead of a possible trip to the League Two high-fliers on November 3 or 4.

Meanwhile, Wrexham, who beat Southport 2-0 in the final round of qualifying, will host Alfreton Town in round one next month. Alfreton overcame Gateshead by the same score to go through.

A deflected Dean Keates free-kick and Brett Ormerod’s first goal for the club saw Wrexham past their Blue Square Bet Premier rivals at the Racecourse Ground.