FIVE Welsh sporting legends and the leader of the Wales Commonwealth Games Squad are the new patrons of Wales Touch.
Former Wales rugby stars Shane Williams, Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies and Tom Shanklin will be lending their support to the growing sport along with Olympic athlete Jamie Baulch and Non Evans, who has represented Wales at rugby, judo, wrestling and weightlifting.
Professor Nicola Phillips, recently announced as Wales’ chef de mission for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and currently supporting former Wales rugby union international Richard Parks’ latest expedition to Everest, is also on board.
All patrons have played or been involved with t ouch rugby and are big fans of the game. So much so that former Welsh rugby union international and Ospreys wing Shane Williams is tempted to come out of retirement to play again for the Wales Touch side.
He said: “Touch rugby was always an important part of my training and rugby growing up and I don’t think we see enough people playing it in the northern hemisphere.
“I used to play a lot of touch as a warm up for Wales and the Ospreys and it’s such a great sport. Anyone can play it, it’s for men, women and children, it’s not physical and it doesn’t matter what standard of rugby you are, you can all play together.
“I love the game and as patron I really want to get involved both on and off the field, so may be dusting my boots off as time goes on.”
Touch is a fast, six-a-side, noncontact sport that can be played by men and women of all ages from juniors to veterans, including uniquely mixed teams of men and women. There are five regions currently run by Wales Touch Association, which have individual clubs and leagues;
- Cyclones and Warriors (Cardiff, Caerphilly, Merthyr, Rhondda, south Powys and Vale of Glamorgan)
- Rangers (Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flint, Gwynedd, north Powys and Wrexham)
- Rebels (Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot and Swansea)
- Red Kites (Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion)
- Titans (Monmouth, Newport, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent)
It is a good way to stay fit and is particularly popular with rugby union and league players to keep fitness and skills levels up in the summer months. It’s also ideal for total novices and can be played by anyone.
Patron and former Wales and Cardiff Blues outside centre, Tom Shanklin, said: “Touch is incredible and I used to play it loads to warm up, develop my skills, keep fit and have fun. It’s based on the basic principles of rugby, it’s all about creating space, attacking, catching, passing, handling and agility but without the physicality of tackling.
“I love that it’s a mixed sport that can be played by all ages, shapes and abilities and I would encourage everyone to give it a go, it’s just a top sport.”
Former Wales rugby union and league star and broadcaster Jonathan Davies believes that playing touch rugby at a young age, like they do in the southern hemisphere, has a big impact on improving rugby players’ core skills.
He said: “If you look at players in the Southern and North hemisphere it’s like European and British football. They look comfortable on the ball, they try things they wouldn’t normally do, it’s just in their nature and that’s because they play Touch.
“It’s about assessing situations, looking for opportunities and space, and having the core skills to finish it off. That’s what the difference was between Australia and New Zealand in the World Cup and it’s down to playing Touch from a young age.”
Wales has a good standing in Touch and are currently European Champions in the over 40s and junior categories.
Wales Touch Association Managing Director John Francis said : “We are delighted to have secured the support and enthusiasm of six such great patrons.
“Their profile and genuine love for the game will help us to encourage more people to get involved with Wales Touch Association.
“Clubs across Wales are always on the look out for new players and I would encourage anyone interested in sport to get involved. It’s a fun to way meet new people, develop new skills and even play for your country.”
Swans still sweet on Premier League survival
By Jonathan Twigg
SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.
A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.
Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.
With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.
Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.
Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.
Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.
An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.
Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.
Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.
The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.
Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.
Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.
Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.
Street reserves reach cup semis
BOW Street Reserves progressed to the semi-finals of The Len and Julia Newman Cup following a very competitive quarter final against a very good Bont team on Monday night (Apr 9).
A closely contested first half saw both sides create and miss chances but Ryan Evans and Shaun Jones converted two of the home side’s opportunities.
The second goal coming after a superb tackle by John James in his own area stopped a certain Bont equaliser.
Bont piled the pressure on at the beginning of the second half but were unable to convert any chances.
Then, the game’s outstanding player, Joe Williams scored a splendid individual goal to clinch the tie.
Osian Burrell then scored the fourth, before Bont responded with a consolation. Jac Williams with a header scored the final goal of an entertaining evening.
Manager Rhodri Jones was satisfied with the evening’s work adding: “I am delighted with the performance and the result and I feel that all the boys did extremely well against a good Bont side”.
Team: R Evans, Osian Rees Jones, J James, M Williams, S Dewdon, S Harrison, J Williams, R Evans, G ap Dafydd, S Jones, I Evans. Subs: O Burrell, J Quinn, Jac Williams, N Burrell.
Borth well beaten
WITH no sign of an improvement in the wet weather Borth entertained Llanrhaeadr at Park Avenue’s 3G pitch on Saturday (Mar 31), with the visitors arriving in second position in the league and well placed with five games in hand on Division 1 leaders Welshpool.
It took them only ten minutes to score the opening goal with Joe Vaughan netting through a crowded goalmouth and they nearly doubled the lead on twenty five minutes but Khyam Whytton’s bullet header bounced off the crossbar to safety.
To their credit Borth responded well and Ryan Edwards’s free kick wasn’t dealt with by the visitors hesitant defence and Dale Lloyd was on hand to score on his first team debut.
Slowly but surely Llanrhaeadr took control in the next few minutes with Mark Griffiths scoring twice plus an unlucky own goal by a Borth defender gave the visitors a handy 4-1 lead at the interval.
Borth resumed the second half with purpose and within five minutes reduced the lead as Dale Lloyds’s ferocious free kick was fumbled by visiting keeper Harri Matthews and the alert Ryan Edwards scored from the rebound.
However, in the next few minutes Llanrhaeadr took firm control of the match with Khyam Whytton scoring two headed goals.
As the match reached its conclusion Dan Graham scored a well-deserved hat trick for a comprehensive 9-2 win for Llanrhaeadr.
The score doesn’t complement Borth’s all-round team commitment against a well-organized Llanrhaeadr team, but the visitors run up play and clinical finishing proved to be the difference on the day.
Machynlleth picked up a victory on Saturday, Borth now slip to the bottom of the table on goal difference and they are ten points from safety.
With two home games coming up on Saturday (Apr 7) and the following Saturday (Apr 14) against the sides third and fourth from bottom respectively in Kerry and Churchstoke, Borth will be targeting two wins as they look to make up that gap.
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