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.”