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Ryan and Drewett join WRU

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Ben Ryan: Joining Welsh Rugby in a consultancy role

THE WELSH RUGBY UNION has made two new high level appointments to boost its performance department and coach development provision.

Ben Ryan, the sevens specialist coach who helped Fiji lift their first Olympic gold medal in the 2016 tournament in Rio, who is currently working with the National Basketball Association in Amercia, joins Welsh Rugby in a consultancy role.

Peter Drewett has been appointed as the new WRU performance coach manager and will join Welsh Rugby from a similar position with the Hong Kong Rugby Union on March 1.

Former England sevens player Ryan guided Fiji to a record nine sevens tournament titles, including Olympic gold, after leaving his position as England sevens coach to take charge of the South Sea Islanders in 2013.

The 45-year-old has a wide-ranging remit to support, advising the programs and preparation planning of WRU national Age Grade sides and his expertise will be made available to all teams outside of the national squad – which includes the national U20s, national U18s, Women’s national programmes and both men’s and women’s sevens.

Drewett, 58, takes over the position vacated by Geraint John – who was himself appointed to the WRU Executive Board as a ‘Head of Rugby Performance’ last year – and will support the current coach education department with specific responsibilities to improve and support coaching in Wales at the performance level.

He is a former Sports Science lecturer at Exeter University who has worked on 230 international matches across 10 World Championship campaigns with England and Hong Kong to date. He was at the Rugby Football Union between 1992-2006 working in player development and managing the U21s, U19s, schools and youth sides at different stages, before becoming Exeter Chiefs’ Director of Rugby and Head Coach until 2009.

During his time with the Chiefs, he oversaw a period of transition in which they became a professional club and reached the EDF Cup final twice, before working in a range of high profile consultancy roles, coaching Plymouth Albion in 2012 and then being appointed as Head of Elite Coach Development for HKRU in 2014.

He will mainly manage and support the delivery of the WRU coaching courses at level three and four and ensure coaches are right up to speed with new developments with a continuous programme of refresher courses to run alongside official qualifications – specifically covering Premiership, Regional Age Grade and national sevens, national women and national Age Grade coaching.

“Ben Ryan’s appointment is a real coup for Welsh Rugby,” said John. “He is a much sought after high performance coach, who has been courted around the globe since his significant successes with the Fijian national sevens side.

“We are particularly interested in benefiting from the meticulous attention to detail and major planning experience which Ben showed to maximum effect during the Olympics in Rio and we want him to cover the whole of our performance division from U20s, U18s to the women’s game and, of course, his specific experience in sevens is a huge bonus.

“Ben will also be on hand to enhance our Coach Development programme, where he will support our coaches through his knowledge and experience of the world game. This will be done through a series of club visits and coach development sessions.

“Peter comes on board as a full time member of staff in March and his role is very much about safeguarding the future of the game in Wales and making sure we have the very best systems in place to not only produce the best coaches, but to ensure the continued progression of those coaches.

“Our aim is to have the best coaching provision in the global game in Wales; we want to attract the best talent but also produce home grown coaches that are the envy of the rugby watching world and Peter, with the necessary help and support, is just the man for the job.”

WRU CEO Martyn Phillips said: “We have a clear strategy in Welsh Rugby, with coaching and coach development a central priority at all levels of the game.

“These two announcements today are a further example of our continued commitment to ensuring Welsh Rugby creates the finest breeding ground for coaching in the world game.

“We want attract the very best rugby minds to Wales as well as cultivate home-grown coaches who are the envy of the rugby-watching world and we have taken significant steps towards achieving those aims with the two appointments announced today.

“Ben brings a wealth of experience and expertise to strengthen our performance department and his appointment will be of benefit to both players and coaches throughout Welsh rugby.

“In Peter we are appointing a coach development manager who comes highly recommended and who has significant relevant experience of the role on a worldwide scale.”

Ben Ryan said: “I’m delighted to be joining the WRU in what is an incredibly exciting role and I am really looking forward to all that lies ahead.”

Peter Drewett added: “Helping Welsh Rugby fine tune and further improve its production line of Welsh coaches is an exciting challenge.

“There is a wide array of existing coaching talent to be nurtured and we will also be reviewing the systems and structures in place, designed to safeguard and expand the future of coaching in Wales.”

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Sport

Swans still sweet on Premier League survival

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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.

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Street reserves reach cup semis

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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.

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Sport

Borth well beaten

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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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