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Celebrating the national game’s origins

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The teams line up

The teams line up

LAMPETER: it’s a small town, tucked away on the borders between Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, which has played a role out of all proportion to its size in the history of Welsh culture, and particularly Welsh sport.

On Wednesday, (Mar 23), hundreds of people gathered in Lampeter to take part in celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of competitive rugby in Wales.

The nation’s favourite game was brought to Lampeter in 1866 by Rev Professor Rowland Williams, the Vice-Principal of Saint David’s College, now part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

It is believed that Professor Williams first played the sport during his time at King’s College Cambridge and once he took post in Lampeter he believed that rugby was what was needed to get the students in better shape and to enhance their development during their spare time.

Acknowledging the important contribution that both genders make to the sport, the day started with a women’s rugby match between UWTSD Women’s XV and Lampeter Town Ladies. The match was evenly played and showed some excellent skills by the two development sides; however, in the second half Lampeter Town upped the ante and took a 24-15 victory.

The headlining match of the day took place between ‘UWTSD Fighting Parsons’ and touring XV the Welsh Academicals. An amazing performance by UWTSD saw them leading by 11 points at half time but the Academicals had a strong second half resulting in a final score of UWTSD 21 – 71 Welsh Academicals.

The matches were well supported with locals businesses, students and locals in attendance as well as some notable visitors such as Ryan Jones, former Wales number 8, Venerable Randolph Thomas chair of council UWTSD, several members of the Lampeter Town Council, as well as rugby legends Barry John, Roy Bergiers, Delme Thomas and Derrick Quinnell.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the President of Lampeter RFC and local historian, Selwyn Walters has written a book on the history of the game and its origins. The book was launched at the event and is available to purchase from the university.

Selwyn Walters tells the story of the development of the Fighting Parsons team, the acknowledgement that the WRU has given of Lampeter’s contribution of the sport, and tells the story of the 1966 centenary match played between St David’s College and an invitational Welsh XV at the college pitches 50 years ago which featured Welsh greats Barry John, Carwyn James and Delme Thomas.

As part of his visit, ‘King’ Barry John unveiled a monument in the grounds of the university marking the anniversary and giving credit to Rev Prof Rowland Williams.

The beautiful stone sculpture of a rugby ball was carved by UWTSD groundsman Mark, using stone from the original Canterbury building that stood proudly opposite the iconic St David’s building still present on the Lampeter campus today.

During the unveiling of the monument an exhibition was displayed in the university library showing a variety of rugby related items from the Roderick Bowen archive and many students past and present. Distinguished guests at the event enjoyed the excellent display of material, unique to Lampeter and its amazing archive.

Following the presentation of an honorary fellowship to Barry John for his contribution towards sport and rugby in particular, the day came to a finale with a celebratory dinner in the Lloyd Thomas Hall.

There was an excellent atmosphere, with all of the rugby teams joining in to enjoy an evening of locally sourced produce, presentations from the teams and the university, excellent Welsh music from UWTSD students and inspiring, and amusing stories from both Ven. Randolph Thomas and Selwyn Walters on rugby through the years and its significance to Welsh life and Welsh heritage.

The whole experience capped an excellent day of celebration that recognised the contribution that the little Welsh town of Lampeter has made to the Welsh nation’s biggest, best, and most loved sport.

  • Monuments to Welsh rugby: The King and his Court
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Proposed work on dangerous Dorglwyd Junction set to be delayed

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ELIN JONES AM and Ben Lake MP have expressed their frustration following a recent statement from the Welsh Government noting that work on the A487 Dorglwyd junction from Comins Coch, would be delayed.

The junction has witnessed several crashes and close-calls over recent years, with local residents calling for the development of a roundabout or similar traffic-calming measures.

The Welsh Government announced in September 2016 that a feasibility study would be undertaken by the following Summer as to consider potential options to improve the junction.

However, a recent letter from Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP noted: “We are aware of the issues at the junction and an improvement scheme has been within our upgrades programme for some time. Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources and competing priorities, it has progressed slowly.”

“We are currently reviewing the scope of a possible improvement and considering solutions which are affordable and minimise environmental impact. When we are in a position to present outline solutions, a workshop with local stakeholders will be held. This is likely to be in early 2019.”

Elin Jones AM said: “Whilst I do welcome such clarification from the Cabinet Secretary on the next steps for Dorglwyd junction, it is disappointing to read that no major works for the transformation will happen due to the expense of the project. It is positive however to see that a smaller scale improvement is now to be pursued, with consultation likely to be undertaken in early 2019.”

John Roberts, local Ceredigion County Councillor for Faenor ward, added: “I share both Elin Jones’ and Ben Lake’s disappointment at the response from Ken Skates AM. The original plan was to encapsulate a more global project including the Llanbadarn bypass therefore we need to be more realistic in our aspirations for Dorglwyd corner. Having discussed the project on site with both Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP last week we were of the opinion that a much smaller project which could solve the Dorglwyd issue was feasible and be much cheaper than the present scheme. We will wait for the consultation period in 2019.”

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Museum lights up the past

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CEREDIGION MUSEUM has had a full refurbishment of its lighting thanks to £116,558 of grants from Welsh Governments Museums Archives and Libraries Division and the Rural Community Development Fund.

Museum Curator, Carrie Canham, said: “Lighting has been a problem for us for some time; the system was so old that we couldn’t get new bulbs for some of the fittings. Also, we love to put on theatrical and musical performances at the museum but we couldn’t create an atmosphere with just strip lights and footlights. We’ve now got great stage and display lighting and it’s transformed the whole experience for our audiences.

“The new lighting system is all LED, so not only does it look much better it is also more suitable for the more delicate exhibits and it saves us money on our lighting bill.”

The lighting was designed and installed by DBNAudile, who specialise in museum lighting.

The team managed to install the system with minimal disruption to visitors.

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KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract

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KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.

Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.

This standstill period is normal procurement practice.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.

KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.

Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.

“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.

“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”

Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.

“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”

KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.

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