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Evans set for tough battle

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THE MSA BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP has travelled the length and breadth of the UK, taking in rounds in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and so far this season, three different event winners as well as eight different crews have stood on the podium in the opening five rounds. 

Championship leader, Elfyn Evans, in his DMACK British Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5, has already recorded a hat-trick of victories.

The World Rally Championship star has shown his quality, taking the spoils on the Mid Wales Stages, Scottish Rally and Nicky Grist Stages – and comes to the Ulster Rally as the favourite for outright victory.

The Welshman, with Craig Parry sat alongside, won’t have it his own way as the chasing pack will all want to topple the series leader.

Tom Cave has been improving in pace as the campaign has unfolded, having never been out of the top four with James Morgan on the notes. Cave is desperate to take a win in 2016 and will pull out all the stops to beat fellow countryman Evans in his Michelin-shod Fiesta R5.

Swedish sensation Fredrik Ahlin and Norwegian navigator Morten Erik Abrahamsen (Ford Fiesta R5) have had a rollercoaster of a season to date. The Pirelli-backed driver pushed Evans all the way on the opening round before landing his first win on round three, the Pirelli Carlisle Rally two months later. Costly errors on the Circuit of Ireland and the Nicky Grist Stages, along with a mechanical failure on the Scottish, put the Scandinavian in third on the championship points board.

Ahlin is one man who is hoping for the luck of the Irish to help bring him back into the title fight. CA1 Sport teammate David Bogie (Skoda Fabia R5) with Irish co-driver James O’Reilly find themselves seventh in the standings. The Scottish driver has shown blistering pace this season and will want to harness the speed and return to the podium, which he last achieved on the Circuit of Ireland.

In 2016, drivers have elected to play their ‘Jokers’ to double their points. Two drivers yet to play their card are dark horses for rostrum honours. Josh Moffett/ John Rowan (Ford Fiesta R5) won the BRC element on the Circuit of Ireland and Jonathan Greer/Kirsty Riddick (Citroen DS3 R5), who finished just behind the Fiesta pairing, will want to emulate their success on home ground this weekend.

Watch out too for a whole host of series returnees. Multiple BRC champion Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin (Citroen DS3 R5) will want a strong BRC finish to show his class. Local stars Marty McCormack and David Moynihan in their Skoda Fabia S2000 held the lead on the Circuit of Ireland, before a heart-wrenching fuel pump failure denied them a home win. A committed driver, McCormack won’t hang around in his Kumho-backed machine.

Matt Edwards and Will Rogers have had a phenomenal season in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 in the BRC2 category, wrapping up the title on the previous round – the Nicky Grist Stages. The pair will be eager to shine on the Ulster as the crew step-up to the BRC1 category, driving a brand-new Ford Fiesta R5.

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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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