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Mark Taylor steps down

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Stepping down: Mark Taylor with the U20 squad after their win over Scotland

Stepping down: Mark Taylor
with the U20 squad after their
win over Scotland

FORMER Wales Captain , Mark Taylor , has stepped down as Wales U20 Team Manager to spend more time with his family . The team’s 42-19 victory over Scotland marked his final match in the role.

The former Centre who won 52 Wales caps, scored the historic first try at the Millennium Stadium and successfully captained Wales on four occasions, has been a Wales international pathway team manager since hanging up his playing boots in 2008, first with Wales U18, and for the last six years with Wales U20.

Taylor, who also toured with the Lions in 2001, has decided to spend more time with his family and other work commitments, but admits he will certainly stay involved in rugby in some capacity.

“It’s been a massive experience for me over the past eight years . It’s been a pleasure for me to be part of the development of young players, especially when you see them go onto play for the senior Wales side.

“There have been a lot of highs and some lows in that time, which from a results point of view come down to a few heavy defeats to New Zealand, in 2011 and earlier this week.

“One of the biggest achievements was reaching the Junior World Championship final in 2013, when we probably should have beaten England in the final. Hallam Amos, Sam Davies, Steff Hughes and Jordan Williams were key to that campaign, especially in beating South Africa in the semi-final. It was the culmination of two year period under Danny Wilson as coach and the players learned a huge amount from the experience.

“One of the highlights of my career, including my playing days, was being involved with the first side to beat New Zealand U20 in 2012. Our team had gone from losing to New Zealand by 92 points the year before, with the likes of Liam Williams and Kirby Myhill in the side, to come back 12 months later and turn them over. The likes of Tom Prydie, Samson Lee and Rob Evans were in that side, the match was played in some of the worst conditions imaginable and that victory was right up there in terms of special moments.

“Despite a few results going against us during this tournament in Manchester, the current crop of Wales U20 players also created something special in winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.

“The way they came back to win in Ireland got them off to a great start, and the desire they showed to stay in the Scotland and France games showed what they are made of. The highlight of the campaign though was the big victory over England, producing excellent rugby for 80 minutes.”

The team manager role started quite small with Wales U18 , but a number of players who have gone on to become household names were in Taylor’s sights from the start.

Tom Prydie, George North, Eli Walker, Aled Davies, Matthew Morgan and Rhodri Jones were in the first Wales U18 squad Taylor was involved with in 2009, with Samson Lee, Rob Evans and Ellis Jenkins joining the party a year later.

“I was asked if I wanted to take on the role and I saw it as a good way to stay in touch with the game. I was involved with talent identification and also some of the backs coaching under Darren Edwards, who was with London Welsh at the time.

“Tom [ Prydie ] was outstanding for us in a Five Nations tournament in Italy and went on to become capped by Wales in the Six Nations the following year , before playing for us again later that season in the next Five Nations tournament. George North was the star of that tournament in Llandovery and was capped by Wales later that year.

“The day -to -day role involves a lot of organisation and coordination between the team, the rest of the Welsh Rugby Union rugby department, the other National Squads, the Regions and clubs, along with other Unions and tournament organisers. Basically everything that enables the coaches and players to get on with their job of preparing for matches. I will miss it but I owe my family some quality time after going straight into team management after ending my playing career. I will no doubt be drawn back to rugby as I still feel I owe the game a lot after everything it’s given me, but it will be more of a home -based role for the time being. I’d like to thank all the coaches and support staff I’ve worked with in my time with the 18s and 20s.”

WRU Head of Rugby Performance , Geraint John , paid tribute to Mark Taylor’s contribution to the Welsh Rugby Union over the last eight years.

He said: “It has been a pleasure working with Mark since my return to Wales and he will be a great loss. He is an excellent Team Manager, well respected by all players and staff and is well loved in the office with his professionalism, passion and humour. We totally understand the reasons why Mark is stepping down as family is very important.

“Even though he is leaving his current role I am hoping that in the future we will see Mark involved with our teams in some capacity. He is an excellent person with great values and we wish him the best but we will certainly be staying in touch.”

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Aber face must-win game

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IN their fight for a Europa League Play Off spot, Aberystwyth Town now face a must-win game against Cardiff Met on Saturday (Apr 20).

A win against the Met would put them above the Students and put them in pole position ahead of their final game away to Carmarthen a week later.

On Friday (Apr 12), Aber were held to a 0-0 draw by Cefn Druids at Park Avenue, and the Met’s win on Saturday (Apr 13) put them into the coveted seventh place.

A large crowd of 495 responded to Aber Town’s “Footy for a Fiva” initiative to watch the Black and Greens gain a valuable point from an engrossing goal less draw with their bogey side Cefn Druds. In a match of remarkably few clear cut chances defences were on top.

Geoff Kellaway and Ryan Wollacott went closest for Town and despite a late power cut both teams held out for an honourable draw.

Kick off was preceded with a presentation as Aber Town Under 19s side received their Welsh Premier Development League (South) Trophy and medals, and the Black and Greens named an unchanged outfield eleven for the fifth consecutive game.

Druids took the initiative from the start and home keeper Terry McCormick was out well to deny Jack Kenny early on.

With the Druids buzzing around Town were mostly threatening on the break and Mattie Jones made a lung bursting run down the left before pulling out a super cross, but Druids’ Neil Ashton dived in to deny Kellaway a tap in.

Photo by Colin Ewart

Jones picked out Kellaway again minutes later but the striker was called offside.

Kenny then fired wide from a great position, set up by Rittenberg, but in general it was the holding players who were shining, with Paolo Mendes and Declan Walker prominent in Town’s good defensive shape.

Marc Williams lobbed just over for Aber, then Jamie Davies brought a save out of McCormick.

Wes Baynes set up half chances for Walker and Ashley Ruane with free kicks, and Mendes headed over from Jones’ corner. Kellaway curled a shot wide and Kenny headed over for the Druids and with shots on target at a premium the half ended at 0-0.
Into the second half, and Williams curled a header just wide from Baynes’ free kick, and McCormick again did well to deny Kenny and Davies.

Steff Edwards saw a rare effort drop just over the bar and home supporters in the Dias Stand started to make themselves heard with some super singing, echoed back by the tifosi on Narks’ corner.

The two in form sides were defending solidly and chances were at a premium. Another Baynes free kick whistled past the far post, and then a Ryan Wollacott header brought Druids keeper Michael Jones into action with a smart save.

A ball from Walker almost picked out Ruane and then with two minutes to go the floodlights dramatically cut out.

After five minutes of darkness, to cheers from the supporters, the lights mercifully came back on, and in injury time sub Niall Coleridge almost got his head on a Jones cross, Ryan Kershaw fired over the bar for the visitors and the game ended in a fair and honourable draw.

The result guarantees Aber an improved eighth placed finish this season but after Cardiff beat relegated Llandudno on Saturday, Aber now travel to the Cyncoed Campus knowing they must win to keep their Play Off hopes alive.

Saturday’s match between the two sides is a huge game and every single Aber supporter is needed to cheer the boys on to a dream end to the season.

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Aber hold off Llanelli

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ABERYSTWYTH Town took another huge step towards the UEFA Europa League Play Offs with a crucial 3-2 win over Llanelli at Park Avenue on Friday night (Apr 5).

Following Cardiff Met’s defeat to the Druids on Saturday it means that Aber now hold a one point lead over the Met who they play on Apr 20.

A stunning strike from Wes Baynes on 29 minutes gave the Black and Greens the lead, and quickfire goals from Ash Ruane (49 minutes) and Marc Williams (53 minutes) seemed to have the hosts cruising, but Llanelli, who were relegated last night by a Club announcement that they will not appeal their Licence failure, hit back through Lee Bevan (63) and Joe Clarke (83) to set up a thrilling ending, which ended with Aber’s fourth consecutive win.

Kick off at a chilly and damp Park Avenue was preceded by a minute’s silence to commemorate Club Stalwart Leighton Wall, who sadly passed away after Aber’s last home game.

Aber’s unchanged team started fairly confidently, taking the initiative and soon evergreen Geoff Kellaway was flashing a shot wide of the goal set up by the peerless Marc Williams.

The visitors however were showing signs of life themselves: Michael George sent an early effort wide, then home keeper Terry McCormick came out brilliantly to deny stand in striker Joe Clarke what seemed like a certain goal.

Photos by Colin Ewart

The chances kept coming and Kellaway was adjudged to have been offside, while scoring from Mattie Jones ball in – and the goal was disallowed. Williams saw a shot saved by Scott Coughlin, then a Mattie Jones humdinger screamed past the post.

Jones then had a free kick tipped over the bar by Coughlin, and then finally a super move around the box saw Williams lay the ball back to Baynes who smashed the ball into the net for a super opener.

Steff Edwards then attempted a Cantona-esque effort from the edge of the area which dropped wide, and Llanelli were hanging on. McCormick pulled off another super close range save to deny Clarke at the other end, and headers from Declan Walker and Williams missed the target for Aber to ensure that a very entertaining first half ended 1-0 to the hosts.

Into the second half and the hosts started on fire. Four minutes in Kellaway delivered a perfect ball in from the left wing which fell perfectly for Ruane to score his second headed goal in two games.

Sub Emile Ngoy tapped in at the other end for Llanelli but his goal, like Kellaway’s earlier, was disallowed for offside, and then a simple ball up the park from the hosts was terribly misjudged by Coughlin and Williams nipped in behind him to score a third, and surely seal the game for Aber.

Ryan Edwards and Jones both curled further efforts wide for Town but credit to already relegated Llanelli, they finished the game strongly. When Lee Bevan headed home from a right wing corner to reduce the arrears there was still 27 minutes to go, and with the Reds flooding forward Ngoy headed over soon after.

Clarke sent a shot over the bar and Aber’s fans in the Dias started signing to encourage their side to hold out.

With seven minutes remaining a tricky run from George down the right saw the ball fall for Clarke who rolled his man and finally got his goal from close range for 3-2.

Ruane played a great 1-2 with Marc Williams before sending a wild shot into the new netting in front of the Dias Stand, and after a series of free kicks around Aber’s box Chris Jones’ set piece was headed over by the industrious Ngoy.

Back at the other end in injury time Marc Williams then held the ball in the corner, only to roll round a gaggle of visiting players and tickle the ball just past the post, and the job was done.

In the face of a spirited comeback Aberystwyth Town held on for what could be a priceless three points.

It was probably not a vintage performance in truth but such complaints are churlish in the face of four straight wins which have put Aber back on top of the Play Off Conference, and their UEFA Europa League dream continues on Friday night (Apr 12), at home to Cefn Druids (

ko 7.45pm).

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Llandysul through to League Cup final

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LLANDYSUL made it through to the final of the Ceredigion Costcutter League Cup on Tuesday (Apr 2), as they beat St Dogmaels 4-2.

Both sides were near full strength and it made for an exciting encounter between two of the league’s top sides.

The Saints just stole it 1-2 in Llandysul earlier in the season, but came into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Crannog while Llandysul had beaten basement side Bargod 5-0 so it really was anyone’s guess who would take the spot in the League Cup final against Crannog on Easter Monday (Apr 22).

After a few day of summer weather, the pitch benefited from the odd light shower throughout the day, making an immaculate surface at NCE – with the ball zipping about for both sides.

It took the Saints just ten minutes to break the deadlock as confusion in the box allowed them to strike an early blow to the Swallows after a fiery opening exchange.

Five minutes later Llandysul were level after a quick 1-2 between the immense Scott Mayes and Lewis Jones released on form striker Mathew Newbold, whose bullet cross was met by the head of the on-running Chrissy Harris.

Both sides kept looking to play, and some dogged Swallows defending conceded a throw in near the corner flag. The Saints full back launched a mammoth throw into the box, causing all sorts of chaos before the Saints prodded home to restore their lead.

The fiery affair continued with a few large tackles and some excellent football for both sides saw out the first half.

The Saints started the second half brightly, winning a corner within 30 seconds of the restart.

On 55 minutes, a handball just outside the Saints box gave Llandysul a chance to get back into the game. The free kick was rolled by Lewis Jones towards Captain Dean Jones who let fly an absolute rocket to make it 2-2.

The Swallows made a change to their top three with Ashley Summers, Jayden Lynch and Harri Wilson coming on for Newbold, Harris, and Ifan-Sion.

The change of pace up top changed the game and within two minutes Jayden Lynch found a gap on the edge of the box to fire the Swallows into the lead.

The game then returned to end to end action with the Saints having chances to level, only for Swallows ‘Keeper Nathan Jones to perform some outstanding saves.

With ten to go, tenacious striker Ashley Summers pounced on a through ball – causing panic between defender and keeper, stealing the loose ball and slotting home to double the Swallows’ advantage.

The Saints threw everything forward searching for a route back into the game leaving spaces vulnerable at the back.

Winger Harri Wilson’s pace meant they had to constantly be alert, causing all sorts of trouble down the right hand side.

Llandysul saw the game out however and will now look forward to their game with Crannog in the final on April 22.

Before that, St Dogmaels return to league action as they host Llanboidy.

Llandysul are in action in the first round of the Bay Cup as they travel to Maesglas.

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