Friday, 31 January 2014

British and Irish Lion centre Davies back in action for Scarlets

World-renowned international centre Jonathan Davies will return to action this weekend, after being sidelined with a pectoral tear since the Autumn Internationals, and will line up alongside fellow Scarlets captain Rob McCusker in the region's LV= Cup clash against London Irish.
The final pool stage of the 2013-14 LV= Cup campaign sees the Scarlets travel to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday 1st February, kick-off 4pm, to take on London Irish with the Welsh region looking to build on their victory over Gloucester last Friday evening and secure a strong footing as they return to league action next week.

Previous LV= Cup encounters between the two sides came in November 2010 and January 2012 with the Scarlets victorious on both occasions; 16-25 and 27-19 respectively.

Davies makes a welcome return to the Scarlets jersey having last played for the region against Zebre in October.

Scarlets Head Coach Simon Easterby said: "It's an opportunity for Jon to get game time after such a long lay-off. It's good news he's had such a speedy recovery and he's done really well to get back in the timeframe he has. He's ready and will play his part for us on the weekend.”

Deacon Manu also makes a return to action after a long injury; he made his last appearance for the region against Benetton Treviso at Parc y Scarlets in September 2013 when he suffered a fractured arm. Manu start at tighthead prop with Rob Evans his opposite at loosehead and young Darran Harris taking up the hooker berth.

Despite securing victory over Gloucester in poor conditions at Parc y Scarlets last Friday evening Northampton Saints' victory over the Dragons on Saturday means that the Scarlets are no longer in the running for a semi final spot in the LV= Cup competition. Easterby added: "We're disappointed not to be battling it out for a semi final spot but it's still important.

"We had some momentum last season from a couple of good performances in the LV= Cup and took that into the PRO12. We have an important month coming up in the league.”
Easterby has made seven changes to the side who faced Gloucester last weekend and once again has opted for a mix of youth and experience for this weekend's encounter against London Irish.

Rob McCusker returns to captain the side with Frazier Climo also returning from the sidelines (concussion) and young flanker Lewis Rawlins making his second start for the region.

Easterby went on to say: "It's an opportunity to get some guys game time that we haven't seen much of in the Scarlets shirt. The young guys have gone well in the British & Irish Cup with Llanelli and in the Premiership for Llandovery and Carmarthen Quins.

"We're looking forward to see some different combinations within the squad but it's also important for us to build momentum going into a tough four weeks of PRO12.”

Scarlets team to take on London Irish, Saturday 1st February, kick-off 4pm:
15 Jordan Williams, 14 Aaron Warren, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Josh Lewis, 9 Aled Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Darran Harris, 3 Deacon Manu, 4 Richard Kelly, 5 Johan Snyman, 6 Lewis Rawlins, 7 Craig Price, 8 Rob McCusker (c)

Replacements: Torin Myhill, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, George Earle, Daniel Thomas, Gareth Davies, Aled Thomas, Adam Warren

The following are unavailable for selection through injury: Steven Shingler (shoulder), Sion Bennett (shoulder), Nic Reynolds (pec), Gareth Maule (concussion), Kirby Myhill (thigh haematoma), Sione Timani (calf strain).

Former London Skolars coach appointed Wales Students coach

Wales Rugby League have named former London Skolars head coach Latham Tawhai as the new Head Coach of Wales Students following Clive Griffiths’ departure from the role last year.

The New Zealand born 41-year old now resides in Colwyn Bay and will work in this post alongside his role at Raging Bull Sportswear, Wales Rugby League’s official kit suppliers.

A New Zealand Maori international, Tawhai turned out for Northcote, North Harbour and Auckland in his native country before moving to England and playing for Keighley Cougars, Doncaster, Rochdale Hornets, Hull Kingston Rovers and Hunslet Hawks.

He was head coach of the Skolars for three years from 2005-07, winning the old National League Two coach of the year award in his final year before assisting Brian McDermott and then Rob Powell at London Broncos until 2012. At international level, he was head coach of Lebanon in 2010.

He will take a first look at his potential squad at the open trial this Sunday at Cardiff Arms Park.

Tawhai said: “I've watched a lot of Wales Rugby League over the past couple of years through my job with Raging Bull Sportswear so I've had a decent insight to the student programme.  I've managed to keep up with my own coaching development in the meantime and I'm genuinely looking forward to the role.

“Wales Students have had a pretty good record in recent times and whilst we'll certainly face some tough challenges from the other home nations we'll be aiming to repeat the success that Clive had with the team at the last home nations tournament.

“I'm really excited about getting together with the group - I've already seen some handy players on the list which is promising.  We've got a trial this weekend which will take a slightly different format to the norm but with a bit of luck allow the players to put their best foot forward."
Assisting Tawhai will be Port Talbot born Matthew Cuss and South Wales Scorpions’ newly appointed captain Phil Carleton.

Tawhai adds: “There are some good young coaches coming through in Wales and by all accounts we've got a couple on the staff again this year in Phil and Matt which will be great for the team. I'm sure they'll make some valuable contributions to the programme and hopefully I can help them continue with their own development as well.”

Cuss, 25, is currently a community sports coach in London and assistant to Joe Mbu at London Skolars. He has previously coached East Devon Eagles RLFC as well as playing for and coaching Exeter University RL. He has also played county Rugby League for Devon and captained Plymouth Titans to a South West Cup Final win in 2011.

“The chance to get involved in Rugby League back in my home country was something that I really liked the look of,” Cuss said. “I played Rugby League at Exeter University for four years and then spent two years coaching them so feel I have a good knowledge of the student game and how it works. I have always been impressed by the standard of players that are around the University circuit, and it’s an exciting chance to be involved at the top level of the student game. It’s a huge honour to be involved with Welsh Rugby League again.

“Looking at the initial trialists we’ve had, there are a core number from last year’s World Cup group and some recognizable names, so it’s a really exciting bunch of young men. As a coaching team we’ll be looking to create a positive environment. If we do this, and the players buy into our systems and style of play then we’ll create a student team that Wales can be proud of.”

Carleton, 29, also has extensive involvement in the Student game having played for UWIC (now Cardiff Met) and becoming a Wales Student international, representing them in the World Cup in Australia in 2005. He also represented Great Britain Students. Professionally he has played for Gateshead Thunder as well as the Scorpions.

“Having coached UWIC for two years and Cardiff Demons for one season, I’ve had a taste of coaching and really enjoyed my time doing so,” Carleton said. “I see this as a step up in quality and therefore challenge to my coaching skills. Knowing that I am working with two experienced senior coaches from which I can learn is obviously a great lure too.

“This is where my career in Rugby League started and it was the only pathway at the time. But it proves it can work because as a result I have been fortunate enough to play professional rugby and I'd like to hopefully pass the knowledge and experience that I have learned, back on to this year’s team.

“Although the Student Four Nations is very serious and competitive I remember those times as some of the best I’ve had in rugby and hopefully, which I’m sure it hasn’t, that atmosphere won’t have changed.”

Wales Rugby League would like to thank outgoing coach Clive Griffiths for all of his hard work with the Wales Students side over the past six seasons and wishes him all the best for the future, especially with North Wales Crusaders’ forthcoming Kingstone Press Championship 1 season.  

Ospreys swoop for Fiji centre

Ospreys Rugby have announced  the signing of Fijian international Josh Matavesi on a two-year deal.
23-year old Matavesi will join the region from Worcester Warriors in the summer on a contract that runs until the end of the 2015/16 season.
A versatile and exciting player, Matavesi is being signed primarily as a centre, although he can play across the back line. He is 1.85m tall and weighs in at 93kg.
Born and raised in Cornwall with a Fijian father, Matavesi is a product of the Exeter Academy, breaking through into the Chiefs set-up as a teenager before being snapped up by Racing Metro as a 20-year old. After featuring regularly for Racing at inside centre, he returned to England 15 months later when he signed for Worcester in the summer of 2012, and he has made 37 appearances for the Sixways club to date, scoring three tries.
Although named in the England U20 squad for the 2009 Six Nations, Matavesi opted instead to represent the land of his father and went to the Junior World Championship in Argentina the following year representing Fiji - where he played against Wales. To date, he has six full international caps - including a 16-16 draw against Wales at the Millennium Stadium - and has scored 14 points with his boot.
"I'm really excited about this move” said Matavesi
"I've been down for a look around the place and I liked what I saw and heard. Steve Tandy and Andy Lloyd presented how they see the Ospreys developing and how they want the team to go and I really want to be a part of it. There's a very good youth system with lots of good players coming through, which does excite me.

"The coaches want the team to play a good style of rugby, which is important to me. It's a young squad, particularly among the backs, but with plenty of games behind them. I've been around a fair bit myself now, despite being relatively young, and hopefully I can add something different.

"It's a new experience for me and I'm looking forward to it. All my fiancee's family are Welsh, and we talked it over. It's a really good move for us as a family. I've got half a season left at Worcester though, there's a big job still to be done and that is my sole focus between now and May, before I can even look too closely at the future and at the Ospreys.”

Andy Lloyd, Ospreys Rugby Operations Manager, said:
"We are delighted to be able to announce the signing of Josh, which is something of a coup for the Ospreys. He's  very skilful, very talented player who has been on our radar for a number of years. Although he came through the English system, he was picked up pretty early by Fiji, and being proud of his Fijian heritage has opted to go down that route.

"He's been courted by a number of big clubs over the last few years, and had an experience with Racing Metro that he has learned from and which has made him a better player and person for it.

"He's been excellent for Worcester in the Premiership, last season in particular. He's got the capacity to light up games with his range of skills that will add something different to what we've got here already, but also, he has a physical presence. He offers us another good left footed kicking option from midfield, and although we are looking to utilise him primarily as a centre, the ability to play elsewhere will give us options as we look to deal with the challenges of a long season.

"Having spoken to him, to people close to him and people who have played with and against him, we know he's a vocal character and another young, dynamic personality who will grow with the group around him.”

Matavesi will find one familiar face when he arrives in the Ospreys set-up, in the shape of fellow back Hanno Dirksen. The pair attended Cornwall's Truro College together, and both played a major part in the College's success in the 2008/09 Daily Mail RBS Schools Cup, which saw Truro win the final at Twickenham against St Peter's School from Gloucester. Dirksen, who has played 48 times for the Ospreys, scored two tries for Truro in the final, with Matavesi also touching down as well as adding five points with his boot in a 39-18 victory.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Aberystwyth deducted 3 points by FAW

The FAW have deducted Aberystwyth three points for playing suspended defender Peter Hoy in a match against Connahs Quay at the beginning of January.
The deduction could prove crucial in the race for a top six Championship place, with Aber currently sitting in sixth, but a win for seventh place Rhyl on Saturday at home against Port Talbot would see the Lilywhites leap above the Seasiders.
The Seasiders were also fined £250 and must pay costs of £60 on top of the points deduction.
A statement from the Seasiders read: "As yet the club has not received the panel’s reasons for its decision but as it is manifestly obvious that the panel did not take into account:
  • (a) the fact that the Club accepted it had made an administrative error and took responsibility for it and
  • (b) very significant mitigatory factors put forward at the hearing, the Club is seriously considering an appeal.
"No further statement will be released until after a decision on the appeal is made. 
"Aberystwyth Town Football Club takes its responsibility towards Welsh Football and the Welsh Premier League very seriously indeed and will have to consider in particular whether any further appeals are in the best interests of the League."
Aberystwyth have until Friday, 7th February 2014 to submit an appeal against the decision of the Disciplinary Panel.

Torfaen strengthened ahead of Challenge Cup tie

Torfaen Tigers have strengthened their squad ahead of their Tetley’s Challenge Cup debut this Saturday when they travel to Chiswick Rugby Club this Saturday to face South West London Chargers (2.00pm).

Last year’s South Wales domestic champions take on their London equivalents with a number of new players in the side including Jarad Hinnem, who joins from local rivals Newport Titans, Jonathan Daniels, who played for the Tigers up until two years ago, and former Wales under 16 international Matthew Cummins.

Hinnem a centre by trade but equally comfortable in the halves or back row, was a member of the Wales Dragonhearts training squad in 2010.

Stand Off Matt Cummins, who played for the Tigers junior sides and gained international recognition at under 16 level before returning to rugby union with Tredegar, Garndiffraith and Pontypool, was originally due to link up with the squad last season but was forced to undergo knee surgery instead.

Jon Daniels impressed  playing for the club in 2011 before suffering a nasty leg break playing against Cardiff Demons that year, putting him out of the game for a long period of time.

Tigers head coach Jamie Williams said: “I’m delighted to have signed all three players who will add some much needed depth to our backline and create genuine competition for places. I played alongside Jon in 2011 and it’s great to see him back on the field.

“Everyone is chomping at the bit to get stuck in on Saturday. The lads have been training hard and it's going to be hard to only pick 17 players.”

Fellow coach Chris Bailey added: “Matt and Jon have looked really sharp in training, and I've worked with Jarad in RU. I’m really excited to be working with them all and I’m sure they'll be great additions to the squad.

“There’s a real sense of excitement for Saturday’s game. Everyone, old and new, looks sharp and hopefully we can carry on where we left off last season.”

Torfaen chairman Rob Davies said: “Everyone is excited to be playing in such a prestigious competition. The local community and media have all been very supportive and hopefully this can push us on to bigger and better things.”

The winner of this game will be just one victory away from being included in the third round draw, which is when Kingstone Press Championship opposition, such as Leigh Centurions, Workington Town and Sheffield Eagles – all past winners of Rugby League’s oldest and most prestigious competition – enter the fray, along with Wales’ top sides in North Wales Crusaders and South Wales Scorpions.

But the Tigers opponents, a club that is the product of a recent merger between South London Storm and West London Sharks, will of course be equally as determined to get into the hat for round two.
“Showing no disrespect to Torfaen Tigers, I believe that we are an equal standard to them,” said South West London Chargers President Cameron Paul. “It is a great opportunity for us, but we have got to keep ourselves grounded.
“A few West London Sharks players played in the Challenge Cup back in the 2009 competition, so a few have had a taste but it is not hard to motivate the guys – if we win two games then we could get drawn against Championship opposition.
“We’ve been training for a month now, so will be able to go out and give it a good shot. We have people from Australia and New Zealand involved in the club and they all know about the competition. It’s the Challenge Cup – it’s an honour to play in it.”

Saturday’s game will the 61st in the Challenge Cup involving a Welsh club. For a full list of results and links to many recent match reports, please go to

Neath Port Talbot College 41-22 Coleg Gwent

Neath Port Talbot College notched up their third win in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 League as they saw off Coleg Gwent in a ten-try, entertaining encounter.

When the teams met back in October it was a close run affair, with NPT triumphing by just four points that day, and despite what the one-sided scoreline projects, Coleg Gwent were very much contenders for large swathes of the match.
Both sides played the match at a high tempo leading to a frantic and frenzied affair that left the game unstructured at times. However, it was the hosts that took their chances better, with wing Lloyd Pritchard showing electric pace to claim a well taken hat-trick.
The scrum was an evenly matched set piece but NPT had the edge up front and at the line-out, with locks Oliver Thompson and Adam Beard producing a physical performance around the park.
The Llandarcy outfit got off to a flying start as they raced into a 10-0 lead thanks to tries by centre Joe Thomas and Thompson after they had the better of the opening exchanges.
However, it was the visitors that would lead going into the interval as an interception converted try for centre Chad Wood and a quick thinking Sior Pearce effort edge the Gwent side ahead.
A strong run from NPT outside centre Joe Gage set the tone for the second-half and after several phases of play, fly half Dylan Francis chipped through and the ball nestled into the arms of the racing Pritchard to cross.
And the flyer was celebrating again moments later when a turnover in the centre of the park saw the ball shipped wide, and with the visitors' defence in disarray, Pritchard turned on the afterburners to go over in the corner.
Steven Llewellyn’s troops did stem the tide with a Scott Turner penalty but all too often handling errors let the visitors down in the opposition half.
When lock Adam Buttifants was sinbinned by referee Nicky Innwood, their task of getting back into the match turned from improbable to impossible.
With a man advantage, NPT kicked for the corner and from the resultant line-out the hosts drove over with hooker Luke Davies emerging from under the pile of bodies to grab a try.
Centre Gage got his reward for an industrious afternoon five minutes from time when another of his powerful runs saw him elude the last line of defence, while a mistake from Pritchard’s opposite number saw the NPT winger capitalise to bag his third.

In fairness to Coleg Gwent, they never let their heads drop and it was the visitors that had the final say of the afternoon, with their scrum-half and best player on the pitch Pearce showing strength and determination to touchdown in the final play of the game.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Division One West Weekend Review

Leaders Glynneath were forced to dig deep to maintain their unbeaten record in One West as they fought back to record a 10-10 draw at Crymych.

On a wet and wild day in West Wales, Crymych raced into a 10-0 lead at the interval with scrum-half Rhys Davies bagging all the hosts' points through a try, a conversion and a penalty.

However, the pacemakers hit back after the break with prop Nicky Boyce driving over, while centre Jack O’Reilly added the extras and a penalty to draw level.

The result sees Glynneath move 12 points clear at the summit after second place Waunarlwydd slipped to a 13-3 defeat at Builth Wells.

The Bulls completed the league double over the highfliers thanks to a Peter Owen touchdown and eight points from the boot of Rob Lloyd.

Waun could only muster a Josh Hammett penalty in reply.

Kidwelly No.8 Rich Rees produced some powerful carries for the hosts

Kidwelly also capitalised on Waunarlwydd’s slip-up as the Black and Ambers moved up to second with a 10-3 win over Cwmllynfell at Parc Stephens.

Cwm's scrum-half impressed for the visitors 

Berian Watkins went over for the only try of the match while Jamie Evans added five points from the tee to seal their eighth victory of the season.

Black and Ambers Hooker Torin Myhill produced some crunching hits in defence

Meanwhile, Llangennech’s league revival continued with their seventh win on the bounce with a 31-13 victory over Ammanford.

Llangennech crossed the whitewash four times through Daniel Gravelle, Tom Barnes, Justin Hughes and Ashley Banfield while Jonathan Griffiths added eleven points from the tee.

Elsewhere, John Thomas was celebrating his first try in senior rugby as he helped Kenfig Hill to a narrow 12-10 win at Whitland.

The Mules outscored their rivals by two tries to one with Thomas and Dan Jones crossing, while Roy Giles added the extras to one.

In the day’s other encounter, Loughor were 31-7 home winners over Carmarthen Athletic.

The Blues made light-work of the wet and windy conditions as they ran their visitors riot, crossing five times in all. Michael Whitey was at the double for the hosts while Tim Butler, Steve Wake and Peter Smiriglia also went over. 

Tylorstown looking to the future

Tylorstown have endured a rough couple of seasons, suffering relegation from Two East last term and struggling in Three South East this season.
The Rhondda side clinched only their second win of the season at the weekend when they saw off fellow strugglers Aberdare 12-0.
Despite Tylorstown’s recent hardships, Club Secretary Lionel Langford believes the foundations are in place for the club to emerge stronger from their recent lapse in form.
“We have a very young side which bodes well for the future but they have come up a bit short so far this season.
“No one at the club can fault their commitment but when you have players who are still eligible for youth packing down in your forwards, you’re always going to struggle against more experienced and physical teams,” added Langford.
However, with a very young squad and a thriving youth and junior section, Langford is optimistic for the next few seasons.
“It really is a question of patience for us- the club is thriving socially and we have good numbers, we just have to wait for the players to come through. A club’s success generally is quite cyclical so we’re just waiting for the next batch of players to mature.”
Langford is quick to point out that, despite suffering ten defeats in 12 starts, everyone at the club are proud of the players who are pulling on the Tylorstown shirt this season.
“We can’t fault their effort made by both the team and coaches. It isn’t easy being on the losing side week-in-week-out but the players have conducted themselves brilliantly and are an asset to the club.”
One concern Langford points out - a problem not just affecting Tylorstown but is endemic in Welsh rugby - is the lack of a 2nd XV.
“We haven’t got enough boys to field a 2nd team and from what I can gather, it is certainly the same case around Rhondda and it is worrying as you want those boys to feed into your first team squad.”
Tylorstown travel to Brecon after the two week break for the Six Nations and Langford believes it will be tough to complete the double over their rivals.

“In all honesty we were very lucky to win at home against them, but anything can happen in sport and I know the team will go out and give everything they have for the shirt.”

Treharris Phoenix hoping to rise to promotion challenge

Treharris Phoenix are currently flying high in Five South Central and inflicted league leaders Cambrian Welfare’s only second defeat of the season at the weekend.
Treharris produced a gritty display to edge out Cambrian 10-8 at home with Lee Munk touching down while Jamie Evans added the extras and a penalty.
Club Secretary Karl Edwards believes that if they can continue to produce the goods, Phoenix could be in line to bag back to back promotions.
“We are very happy with our season, we had a good win Saturday and the players and coaches really believe they have it in them to challenge for promotion.”
Phoenix have had a change at the helm in the off season and Edwards thinks their fresh impetus has helped the side adjust to life in a higher division.
“Stephen Parry and Wayne Ford have taken over coaching duties and are doing a great job. We’ve had one or two lads return to the squad but essentially it is the same group that took us up last year.”
Edwards admits Treharris have a number of big matches coming up and hopes a couple of wins could put them in the driving seat for promotion.
“We have two tough away matches coming up in the league, travelling to Cefn Coed and Treherbert. We are the only side to have beaten Treherbert this season, and we follow that up with a local derby against Ynysowen. If we can notch up wins in those matches it will be huge for the confidence and belief in the side.”

 Next up Treharris take on Cefn Coed under the lights on Friday 7 February. 

Back row ace Jenkins signs new deal

Highly-rated back row forward Ellis Jenkins - one of the brightest young prospects in Welsh rugby -  today pledged his future to Cardiff Blues by signing a new long-term deal with the region.

Former Wales Under-20 international captain Jenkins –who led his country to runners-up spot in the Junior World Championships in France last year - has impressed throughout the current campaign.

The 20-year-old made his full debut for the region in both the Heineken Cup and RaboDirect PRO12 and was named captain when Blues faced Bath in the LV=Cup last weekend.

Director of Rugby Phil Davies described Jenkin's signature as a real statement of intent for the future.

"At Cardiff Blues we have some of the brightest young back row players in Welsh rugby, so the news that Ellis has agreed a new contract is absolutely fantastic,” he said.

"Ellis is the former Under-20 captain for Wales and a very mature and intelligent young player, especially at the breakdown where he makes good decisions."

"He is a big talent and someone who will only get better. Ellis wants to develop as a number seven and also has the ability to play six. We are lucky to have the likes of him, Josh Navidi and Rory Watts-Jones in that position."

"We're pleased that we've retained his services because he would have undoubtedly attracted the attention of other clubs. But he wants to remain a Blues player and help this region get even stronger.”

CEO Richard Holland added: "Ellis will be a huge asset to our region for years to come and is exactly the type of player who we see as the future of the Blues."

"Ellis is an extremely talented flanker and proven leader, a fact that shone through at both the Junior World Championships and when he led the Blues for the very first time at Bath last weekend."

"This is a very positive signing for us, which I know will please our supporters at this important time for our region. We're determined to continue to strengthen the squad and plan to make more important announcements in the coming weeks.”

Jenkins played for all the Blues age grades and won the Welsh Championship every year he was in the squad. His performances saw him promoted to captain the Blues Under-18 squad and then on to Wales.

He was integral to the Under-20 Junior World Cup team in South Africa in 2011/12, that were the first team to beat New Zealand at that level, earning a spot in the semi-final.

Jenkins said: "I've been at the Blues since I was 14 and grown up with many of my current team-mates. I've enjoyed my development here and I always wanted to remain a Blue."

"To captain the Blues last week was a huge honour and now I want to establish myself as a regional player. I've been involved the last few months and I'm hoping next season I can really kick on."

"I enjoy the environment here, believe in the coaching staff we have in place and it's great to sign and now concentrate on the rest of this season. We still have a lot to play for and I want to feature as much as I can and get even more experience at this level.”

Monday, 27 January 2014

Humberstone signs full-time contract

Fly half Simon Humberstone has today put pen to paper on a full-time professional contract at Cardiff Blues.

Talented outside half Humberstone, 26, has made four appearances for Blues this season, making his first start in the LV=Cup victory over Ospreys in November.

The Basingstoke-born back recently started the LV=Cup fixture with Bath Rugby at The Recreation Ground and has now committed his playing future to Blues by signing a deal until at least 2015.

Humberstone started his rugby career in the Harlequins Academy, gaining representative honours with South East England and England Students.

Following a season spent playing with Heriot RFC in the Otago province of New Zealand, Simon returned to the UK to study at UWIC.

Humberstone's growing reputation attracted the interest of a number of clubs during the summer of 2010, but he linked up with Pontypridd RFC and has been a key part of the club over the last few seasons.

Director of Rugby Phil Davies said: "Simon joined up with us last year when we were looking for fly half cover and did brilliantly."

"He was fantastic in the LV=Cup win over Ospreys and the Munster game in the RaboDirect PRO12 was also a very good experience for him as it showed him what is required at this level."

"Simon is an intelligent player and this is a big opportunity for him to be part of our set-up. It's exciting for him and it strengthens our squad at outside half, which is crucially important to us going forward."

Humberstone admitted signing the full-time contract with Blues was a dream come true.

"I got a taste about what it was all about back in November in the LV=Cup and after that whets your appetite it is all you want to achieve," he said.

"Being here with Dale McIntosh and Paul John, who I know so well from Pontypridd, makes the move even more enjoyable and I'm determined to make this a success."

"Just being around world class players on a full-time basis improves your game, you have to deal with the intensity just in training and the pressure it puts on your skill set. It makes you a better player."

"It's unfortunate for Rhys (Patchell) at the moment as he is out injured after such a good season, but it gives opportunities for players like me and Gareth Davies to put a marker down for the number 10 jersey."

Humberstone also paid a special tribute to Pontypridd for their understanding and support over the last three and a half years.

"I owe a massive debt of gratitude to Ponty for all they have done for me. It's a special club with fantastic fans and a superb coaching staff. I wouldn't be where I am today without them so I wish them every success for the future."

South Wales Scorpions move to Maesteg as professional RL returns to Bridgend County Borough

Professional Rugby League returns to the Bridgend County Borough for the first time in over four years after South Wales Scorpions today agreed a move to Maesteg RFC.

Celtic Crusaders played at the Brewery Field in Bridgend, nine miles south of Maesteg, from 2006 until 2009 before moving north to Wrexham. They were disbanded in 2011 before reforming in 2012 as North Wales Crusaders.

South Wales Scorpions were formed in 2010 to continue professional Rugby League in South Wales playing their first four seasons at Neath RFC.

The Kingstone Press Championship 1 side will play their first game at the famous Old Parish ground on Sunday 2nd March when Oldham Roughyeds are the visitors (kick-off 3pm).

The Wales Rugby League governing body are based at Maesteg School, the home of the South Wales RL Academy so with the support in place in the area, WRL Chief Operating Officer Chris Thair believes that the Scorpions can really set down roots in the Llynfi Valley.

“We’ve had amazing support from the people of Maesteg already,” he said. “Maesteg RFC really want to host us throughout 2014 and beyond. They’re enthusiastic about promoting the club in the area and making every game an event.

“We’re already in Maesteg School with our Academy set-up, and they have also promised their support in promoting home games and selling tickets. The work that they have already done and the ideas that they have is tremendous and everyone is looking forward to getting started and making the club a success.

“The wider community in Maesteg are also already showing their enthusiasm as word of mouth that the Scorpions are moving to Maesteg has already spread round the area. All of Maesteg Schools’ cluster primary schools in the town are wanting to sell tickets and there are other organisations in the area who are signing up to sponsor the club. We’ve even got a local Maesteg-based charity who are set to be the club’s official charity for 2014.

“We’d like to thank Neath RFC for being fantastic hosts over the last four years. We’ve had some good times in the area, their support for the club has been invaluable and we hope we will continue our good relations with them as fellow sporting organisations.”

David Morgan, Maesteg RFC chairman, said: “We at Maesteg RFC are very pleased to be hosting the South Wales Scorpions for this forthcoming season. They will have a warm welcome and I am sure plenty of support for what will primarily be a summer sport. 

Maesteg RFC has a rich history of developing cross code players and Welsh internationals like Allan Bateman, Ike Owens, Kevin Ellis, Karl Hocking and Grant Epton – with the latter two being our current club coaches -  and we hope to continue this in the future. This is an opportunity for us, the town of Maesteg, and Llynfi valley to be the home of both codes in Wales and to put Maesteg on the rugby map once again.”

Further news in regards to ticket sales for individual matches and season tickets will be released in the next few days.

The match on March 2nd will be the sixth senior Rugby League game to be played at Maesteg RFC.
The first was in 2005 when Bridgend Blue Bulls faced Valley Cougars at Maesteg RFC. A crowd of around 1,500 proved there is appetite for the game in the Llynfi Valley. They went back there in 2010 to face the same opposition.

Celtic Crusaders took on Keighley Cougars there in 2006, winning 58-18. This game was moved from the Brewery Field as that ground was still clearing up after a Bryan Adams concert two days before.

Then on November 8th 2009, on the last day that professional Rugby League was played in the Bridgend County Borough before this year, Italy beat Serbia 42-14 and Lebanon beat Ireland 40-16 in a European Cup ranking double header event at Maesteg RFC moved from Bridgend as adverse weather conditions couldn’t warrant three games in one day at the Brewery Field. Wales beat Scotland to win the European Cup in Bridgend later that day.

In addition, throughout 2009, Celtic Crusaders reserves played 12 games, their under 18s played four times and the under 16s once at Maesteg RFC. Finally, last month two under 18 games featuring the Maesteg School based South Wales RL Academy side were played at the Old Parish ground.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Wales Deaf set for England clash

Cardiff Arms Park will host the world's first ever deaf rugby international on an artificial surface this Sunday when Wales and England clash for the Broadstreet Cup.
The two sides meet at the home of the Cardiff Blues with Wales, the current Deaf Rugby world champions, keen to avenge their last game with England - a 21-8 defeat at Fylde.
Since the first clash between the two sides was held in 2004, Wales lead the overall head-to-head by eight victories to two but anticipate another tough encounter with the men in white this weekend.
Wales Deaf captain Gareth John said: "The whole squad is eagerly anticipating this game and it will be extra special to play at the world famous Arms Park.
"The games against England are always a fantastic occasion and the artificial surface should allow for a great spectacle."
WRU President Dennis Gethin, who is also President of the Wales Deaf Rugby Union, said: "I'm honoured to be President of the Wales Deaf rugby team and I'm very proud of the extremely important work they do to help deaf people in the community at large.
"Wales are existing world champions after triumphing in 2002 and hopefully they will continue that success in this weekend's encounter.
"Any fixture against England is greatly anticipated and I am sure this game will be no exception."
John leads Wales from the right wing against England with Ben Pritchard of Pentyrch on the left wing. Richard Lewis and Kieron John combine at half back. Damien David, Daniel Vella and David Wellbeloved make up the front row with Adam Brake from Usk at No. 8.
England have been forced to reshuffle their pack with flanker Ian Collins out due to a back injury. Richard Browne has been promoted from the bench and will play in the second row with Grant Reynolds switching to the back row. England will be captained by Cleve scrum-half Graham Sage with tighthead prop Peter Altham his understudy.
"This is the first time I have captained the side in an international so it's a great honour," said Sage.

"I wasn't expecting to be made captain so it will be a very special day for me and as you can imagine, I am a very proud person at the moment knowing I am going to be leading out my country.
"As captain, I will use hand signals for our moves but we have signers who are allowed to come on if required."
To play for Wales Deaf, you don't need to be profoundly or totally deaf to qualify. You only need a combined average hearing loss of 25db or more in both ears. This is approximately a minimum hearing loss in both ears or a moderate hearing loss in one ear but normal hearing in the other.
Discover more about deaf rugby and to see whether you could qualify to play by going to
Sunday's game kicks-off at 1.30pm with entry £5 for adults and free entry to children under 16.

Wales: 15 Wes Pooley 14 Gareth John (C) 13 Sam Gallagher 12 Celyn Ashton 11 Ben Pritchard 10 Richard Lewis 9 Kieron John, 1 Damien David 2 Daniel Vella 3 David Wellbeloved 4 Andy Lloyd 5 Sean Driscoll 6 James Evans 7 Jonathan Cudd 8 Adam Brake.
Replacements: Jamie Watkins, Richard Hicks, Richard Jones, Mark Watson, Simon Liles, Rikki Rosser, Tim Parkinson, Jack Tugwell.

England: 15 Max Thorne 14 Lee Woollard 13 Jack Haddock 12 Tom Bridgeman 11 Adam Faulkner 10 Sam Scadeng 9 Graham Sage (C), 1 Joshua Sprules 2 Oliver Evans 3 Peter Altham 4 Ryan Arbon 5 Richard Browne 6 Luke Cheyne 7 Grant Reynolds 8 Barney Reed.
Replacements: Brett Pruce, Sam Taylor, Paul Cooper, Nick Todd, Richard Austin, Jack Hunt, Aaron Beesley, Liam Rowe.