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Looking ahead to the RBS Six Nations

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Gareth Charles: ‘I’m looking forward to this year’s Six Nations more than usual’

WITH THE BRITISH and Irish Lions touring New Zealand in 2017, there is more excitement than ever surrounding this year’s RBS Six Nations, according to Clwb Rygbi Rhyngwladol commentator Gareth Charles.

S4C is the only broadcaster showing every Wales match in the RBS Six Nations this year, and the experienced commentator is a key member of the presentation team. Gareth, who comes from Pont-Henri in the Gwendraeth Valley, will be accompanied by former Wales captain Gwyn Jones in the commentary box, while former international players Shane Williams, Andrew Coombs, Dafydd Jones, Nicky Robinson and Deiniol Jones will join presenter Gareth Rhys Owen during the Championship.

S4C will also be showing two of Wales Under 20s’ matches live, as well as the women’s team match against Ireland. Highlights of the women’s team matches will also be shown on Clwb2 on Sunday nights.

With the Six Nations fast approaching, S4C recently caught up with Gareth to get his take on this year’s competition.

S4C: “With Gatland away with the Lions, Rob Howley taking his place and Alun-Wyn Jones taking over the captaincy from Sam Warburton, the Wales team is going through a transitional period. How will this affect them in the RBS Six Nations?”

Gareth Charles: “There’s a lot of pressure on Wales and Rob Howley to change to a more open style of rugby. With Wales playing against Italy in the first game and with bonus points being introduced this year, there’s pressure to get off to a good start – even though, traditionally, Wales start slowly every year.”

S4C: “Who are the favourites to win this year?”

GC: “I’d say England. The progress they’ve made under Eddie Jones is phenomenal. They play good rugby and they have so much depth. But Ireland aren’t far behind after their historic recent win over the All Blacks, so they will certainly be a threat to England.”

S4C: “Which players are you looking forward to seeing this year?”

GC: “For Wales, Taulupe Faletau, on his day, is certainly one of the best players in the world. England have Maro Itoje in the second row and Jonathan Joseph in centre, who always creates problems for Wales. Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg always have a big influence for Scotland too. It’s a Lions’ year, so I think that will bring out the best in everyone.”

S4C: “Considering all these new factors – the Lions and bonus points – how much are you looking forward to this year’s competition?”

GC: “ I’m looking forward to this year’s Six Nations more than usual. I’m looking forward to the women’s competition and seeing how they get on at their new home, Cardiff Arms Park, and I will be commentating on their match against Ireland. I’ll also be commentating on the Under 20s matches, and there is always a good atmosphere at Eirias Park for those games. Although I have to say that I’m also looking forward to following the men’s team to Rome and Paris.”

S4C: “Which Five Nations or Six Nations memories stand out in your mind?”

GC: “Obviously the match when Scott Gibbs scored that unforgettable try in Wembley will stay with me forever. The game where we put 30 points on England in Cardiff, in 2013, was also a fantastic occasion. It seems that victories over England are the ones that stand out the most. Of course, the other match I remember fondly is the win against Ireland which secured the Grand Slam in Cardiff, in 2005, under Mike Ruddock. I’d never seen such crowds of people in the city and it was a brilliant day.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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Exercise Referral Scheme doing more for health intervention than ever before

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A record 35,069 participants attended Exercise Referral classes during 2640 hours of health classes in 2019.

The National Exercise Referral Scheme (NERS) is an evidence-based health intervention scheme which incorporates physical activity and behavioural change techniques to support referred clients to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being.

NERS Ceredigion has seen a dramatic increase in demand over the past year. A coordinator and four full time exercise professionals work to deliver the scheme, delivering 73 classes per week. The age of participants range from 16 years old, with the eldest participant in Ceredigion being 95.

Exercise class options include Gym, Circuit, Postural Stability (seated), Spin Bikes, Aqua Aerobics, Tai Chi and Pilates. Venues include council and community centres in Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, Lampeter, Tregaron, Cardigan and Llandysul.

Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member with responsibility for Leisure, highlighted the benefits of the scheme, “There are many physical, psychological and social benefits to being part of the scheme, including confidence-building, better self-esteem, meeting new people and being generally fitter and healthier. Ceredigion Actif’s highly qualified Health Intervention Team provide opportunities to exercise that are fun, rewarding and that can be incorporated into everyday life.”

NERS Ceredigion targets people with a medical condition through various pathways including generic, cardiac rehabilitation, pulmonary, PSI falls, stroke rehabilitation, mental health, cancer and weight management. The 16 week tailored programme of exercise is delivered by a team of specialist Level 4 qualified exercise professionals who guide referred participants towards realising their individual goals.

A participant in Aberystwyth said, “This has been the best thing I have ever done. I have thrived from doing different activities and pushing myself out of my comfort zone which has not only helped my self-esteem but also my depression and everything else including my pain. I have also made new friends which I didn’t even consider would happen and we’re not only being social but we’re having fun too which is a bonus”.

There is ongoing monitoring from the instructors with follow up assessments at 16 weeks as well as on completion at 52 weeks. Long-term ‘maintenance’ options are available post 16 weeks which include the continuation of exercise classes as well as opportunities to join clubs such as walking basketball, walking football, golf sessions and walking rugby.

During 2018-2019 there were 913 referrals to the scheme. To gain access to the scheme, a person needs to be referred by a Health Professional, usually a GP, Practice Nurse or a condition specific Physiotherapist.

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