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Girls’ rugby booms across Wales

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Arrows players: With their coach, Wales international prop Meg York

Arrows players: With their coach, Wales international prop Meg York

THE EXPERIMENT of introducing summer rugby for girls has been a resounding success, with female playing numbers in Wales more than doubling after just one season.

More than 2,000 girls regularly trained and played at the 27 new cluster centres for girls set up all over Wales for spring and summer 2016 and, in conjunction with additional playing opportunities at the 80 school club hubs around Wales, the number of women and girls playing the national sport has gone from a total of around 2,000, to more than 4,000 regular participants.

The cluster centres were so successful in creating a vibrant, sustainable environment for girls’ rugby that 15 new teams have already been established to allow girls to continue to play rugby in the traditional rugby season. These will fall into the Under 15, Under 18 and senior structures already in place, while the girls-only clusters will be back next spring for minis and juniors.

WRU National’s Women’s and Girls Manager, Caroline Spanton, said: “The clusters were set up to overcome some of the barriers girls felt were preventing them from enjoying rugby. Playing girls-only rugby in the summer months were key factors, combined with volunteers, parents, hub officers and WRU staff all pulling in the same direction to create a fun environment for girls from under nines to under 15s.

“The clusters were particularly popular for under nines to under 11s, and the figures for teenage girls has bucked the trend of girls dropping out of sport at that age. The clusters adopted a philosophy of stage not age, so if girls want to carry on playing touch or non-contact rugby, they can do so. We have catered for the demand from some new clusters to keep playing in the traditional season by setting up new under 15 and under 18 teams and ensuring they have everything in place to be sustainable.

“Girls clearly want to play rugby and we will keep working hard to ensure opportunities continue to increase for women and girls at all levels around Wales.”

The Arrows Under 18s in Pontypool is one of the new teams recently set up due to a strong desire from the players to carry on playing once the summer, cluster season ended.

Wales international prop Meg York coaches the side. “The vast majority of these players didn’t play rugby before the Arrows cluster centre was set up but enjoyed it so much that the girls begged us to set up an Under 15 and Under 18 side so that they could keep playing. The players are so enthusiastic, they just want to play rugby and since school has started back, they’ve brought their friends with them too, so numbers are increasing every week.

“They are so keen to learn and I certainly have my eyes on a number of players who could go on and play at a higher level. Coming from Pontypool myself, my idols were the Pontypool front row and if these girls see that I’ve achieved my dream of playing for Wales, hopefully they will see that it’s possible for them too; there is certainly no shortage of talent.”

Arrows player Nicole Smith said: “When I saw on Facebook that the Arrows cluster was setting up, I just had to get involved as I played rugby in primary school and thoroughly enjoyed it. Having Meg as a coach makes a huge difference as she gives us confidence and passes on her skills to us. I would love to play for the Dragons and Wales one day.”

Developing women’s and girls’ rugby at all levels is a key priority for the Welsh Rugby Union.

High profile appointments in the 15 and seven-a-side women’s game recently have been an indication of that at an elite level – along with WRU support for Jasmine Joyce and Laurie Harries to train with GB, Jaz Joyce going on to represent Team GB at the Olympics and a commitment to invest in Wales – places in the Women Sevens, with qualification for the Commonwealth Games and the World Sevens Series, are up for grabs.

At grassroots level, the 80 school club hub officers around Wales have hugely increased opportunities for girls to play rugby in school and helped to transfer girls to the clusters.

To find out about opportunities for women and girls to play rugby, email playrugby@wru.co.uk.

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Aber make perfect start

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ON a wet and windy August evening an excellent crowd turned out at Park Avenue to see the Black and Greens make the perfect start to 2019/20, with a 3-2 win over Carmarthen which leaves them at the Top of the nascent Cymru Premier table – this morning at least!

The visitors scored first through Liam Thomas’ 13th minute penalty, but Town Captain Marc Williams equalised with a deft header five minutes before the break.

The second half belonged to Aber as Williams pounced on a defensive mistake to put them ahead on 55 minutes, and Luke Boundford’s sumptuous volley, right in front of an adoring Nark’s Corner gave Town some breathing space thirteen minutes later. Luke Bowen snaffled up a consolation for Carmarthen in the 90th minute but it was to be Aber’s night as they held on for a huge victory.

Carmarthen probably had the best of a high paced and competitive start to the game, and the thirteenth minute was unlucky for Aber as Luke Bowen sneaked round the back and was pulled down in the area for a penalty, which Top Scorer Liam Thomas converted confidently.

Fortunately the goal stung the hosts into action: Williams saw a snap volley scoop wide, Ryan Wollacott headed wide and Wes Baynes forced Lee Idzi into a save with a header with Aber improving.

Wollacott then kept Aber in it with a superb last ditch tackle to deny Chris Jones a certain goal at the other end.

Baynes sent a lob just over the crossbar, the impressive Paulo Mendes set up Joe Phillips for a low drive which skimmed just wide. Then finally the breakthrough came as Matthew Jones sent in a sweet cross for Williams to glance home expertly at the far post, and douse Aber’s frustrations.

Photo by Colin Ewart

McCormick denied Bowen low down but the Black and Greens were in the ascendancy, with Williams (twice) and Stuart Jones going close, and the half time whistle came too soon for the improving Black and Greens.

Carmarthen came back after the break, Ceri Morgan sent a shot wide, McCormick punched wide a glancing header and Jones fired over – but then a simple ball down the middle caused consternation in Carmarthen’s back four and the irrepressible Williams nicked in between Lees Surman and Idzi to lob the ball home for a deserved lead, which got the home crowd signing in praise.

All Carmarthen’s efforts to equalise from free kicks and corners were cleared by a confident defence, and then with twenty two to go came a glorious moment when Boundford picked up the ball on the edge of the area, found space and curled home a delicious right footed volley into the far post to send Nark’s Corner into raptures, and Matthew Bishop’s men into a 3-1 lead.

What a goal for your Boundford’s home debut! Mendes typified a domineering performance by blocking Harling’s effort, and with Aber working hard to see the game out, the visitors tiring and the home fans singing, the job seemed all but done.

In the 90th minute McCormick spilled Jordan Vickers’ right wing cross for Bowen to nick a consolation goal, but Town kept Carmarthen at bay, with Boundford firing an injury time effort over the bar, and a thrilling game ended at 3-2.

The Black and Greens thoroughly deserved the three points last night for an exciting attacking performance, and two wins out of two plus seven goals has been a very good start to 2019/20 for Aberystwyth Town. They will now head to Barry Town on Friday night (ko 7.45pm) fully confident in their ability to achieve a positive result, before The New Saints come calling on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.

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Junior tournament a great success

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THE highly acclaimed Bow Street Football Club Junior tournament celebrated its seventeenth year of existence in style on the weekend of July 13-14.

An excellent level of entries was again attracted this year, and large crowds came to enjoy the two-day festival, now widely recognised as one of the foremost events of its kind in Wales.

Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “It was another absolutely brilliant weekend. We were blessed with suitable weather on both days, and as a club, we are very proud to be the hosts of such a phenomenal event, and I want to thank all who contributed to the success of the tournament.

Builth: Under 11 winners

“I particularly want to thank the army of volunteers from Bow Street FC who worked extremely hard as a team to ensure that the whole event proceeded in an organised, efficient and friendly manner It is believed that there was over 1700 in attendance on the Saturday and we thank all our visitors for supporting us again this year.

“I would also like to thank our new tournament sponsors, Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods for their magnificent support and commitment over the weekend.”

Brian Jones added: “We are delighted to support such a superbly organised event, and I was amazed at the standard of the youngsters on Sunday. The best thing was seeing all who were present thoroughly enjoying themselves.”

Penrhyn girls u12

Main organiser, Amlyn Evans added: “It is an absolute pleasure to organise such an enjoyable event. Again, as every year, the greatest pleasure is seeing the enjoyment on the faces of all the competitors and spectators. The effort put in by club officials to ensure the smooth running of the whole event is phenomenal. Not only is it enjoyable, but it does provide Bow Street youngsters and others from this area the invaluable opportunity to test their skills against a large variety of teams from away.”

There were teams participating from as far afield as Pontyclun, Cardiff, Pwllheli and Caernarfon and for the sixth consecutive year, an all-girls competition took place on the Sunday.

Bro Hedd Wyn: Winners U8

Winners and Runners up:

Under 6

Winners – Penrhyncoch

Runners Up – Llambed

Under 8

Winners –Bro Hedd Wyn

Runners Up – Lampeter

Under 10

Winners – Bow Street

Bow Street Under 10: Winners

Runners Up – Berriw

Under 11

Winners – Builth

Runners Up – Penrhyncoch

Under 12

Winners – Llanilar

Runners Up – Canton Rangers (Cardiff)

Under 14

Winners – Padarn United

Padarn United: U14 winners

Runners Up – Penrhyncoch

Under 16

Winners – Bow Street

Runners Up – Rhayader

Girls Under 12

Winners – Penrhyncoch

Runners Up – Porthmadog

Player of The Day – Keisha Swai(Porthmadog)

Mark Horwood Memorial Award

Mari Hefin: Winner of the Mark Horwood memorial award for Sunday

(Trophy for best local player of the day.)

Saturday – Stefan Gillies(Penrhyncoch)

Sunday – Mari Hefin(Bow Street)

Overall Player Of The Day

Saturday – Robin Williams (Bro Hedd Wyn)

Sunday – Cayo Carruthers (Llanilar)

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Large crowds expected for Junior tournament

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LARGE crowds are expected this coming weekend (Jul 13-14) for yet another huge occasion for Bow Street Football Club.

The club will be staging its seventeenth consecutive annual junior tournament. Since the inaugural tournament in 2003, the event has rapidly grown in to one of the most prestigious and successful in the whole of Wales.

The tournament is organised by the Spar Mid Wales League team, and games will take place on 9 different pitches at the club’s Cae Piod ground.

This year has again attracted an excellent number of entries with approximately 130 teams applying to participate in the eight different categories.

Teams from as far as Caernarfon and Cardiff will participate on the two days, and competition takes place on Saturday at under 6’s, under 8’s, under 10,s and under 11’s. On Sunday, teams compete at under 12’s, under 14’s and under 16’s.

For the sixth year running there will be a specific all girls category, which will take place on Sunday at under 12.

Bow Street FC are delighted to reveal that the tournament has a brand new sponsor. Castell Howell Foods, firmly established as one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, has agreed to sponsor the extremely popular event for the next two years.

Bow Street Girls: Pictured at a previous event

Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “We are very proud that this tournament continues to go from strength to strength, and it is obvious from the entries that amazingly, its popularity is still increasing. It is incredible that many of our categories were full a couple of months in advance of the tournament. We are very grateful to the clubs from all over Wales who continue to support us.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods on board as our tournament sponsors. Castell Howell are well known for their commitment to community activities especially junior sport, and we appreciate the faith they have shown in us by agreeing to become our partners. Brian Jones is a hugely respected figure in Welsh life and having been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions, it is obvious he has a huge passion for supporting youngsters playing all sports and taking part in community-based activities. The Bow Street tournament we believe is such an event as it enjoys support from all parts of Wales.”

Castell Howell’s Managing Director, Brian Jones said: “May I say how delighted, happy and proud we are to be associated with this now very well established, popular and hugely successful Junior Football Festival organised by Bow Street FC.

“We at Castell Howell are big supporters of communities and believe greatly in giving our youngsters opportunities and we are delighted to support this superb event in Bow Street.”

One of the tournament organisers, Amlyn Ifans added: “This year has attracted an exciting number of entries yet again, and we look forward to an enjoyable two days competition! It is marvellous that a small village community club continues to facilitate such a prestigious event, which gives our own junior players valuable experience of challenging players from outside the locality.’

One of the original organisers, Allan ‘Baba’ Evans said: “I am so chuffed at the way this event has developed since we started it in 2003. I am so proud of the way that the whole club and the community always embrace the annual tournament.”

Play starts at 10.00am on both days, a wide variety of refreshments are available, and, as ever, there is ample parking space.

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