MIKE PHILLIPS’ life has changed considerably since he retired from playing rugby in May.
Getting married, globetrotting, and hanging around with A-Listers such as P Diddy has dominated the former Wales and Lions star’s summer.
But another challenge has also taken up much of his spare time over the last 12 months – being a mentor to women’s rugby team, Senghenydd Sirens.
Throughout the season, S4C’s cameras followed Mike and the team as they battled in National Women’s League Division Two.
The new series, ‘Mike Phillips a’r Senghenydd Sirens’, continues on Wednesday (Oct 11) at 8.25pm.
Mike, who ended his playing career last season playing for Sale Sharks, said: “It was raining the night I met the team, but they never dropped the ball and the standard was good. I was impressed. They were more skilful than the team I played for last season!
“There are so many characters there and that’s one of the things I like most about rugby. You have to be off your head to play!
“They did what I was asked and fair play to them, they trained so hard and improved so much. Last season, they went on a special diet and many of them feel healthier now, so I think the whole thing has been a positive change in their lives.”
The growing popularity of the sport among women in Wales is testament to the professional attitude that now exists in the women’s game, Mike believes.
“The Wales team is playing well and that’s important for the women’s game to develop. It’s definitely growing now. Rugby gives so much direction to everyone who plays and you see that at Senghenydd Sirens. I’ve taken a couple of training sessions with women’s teams in Cardiff over the summer as well, and I’ve really been impressed with the standard. One day hopefully women will be able to play the game professionally too. That would be great.”
Despite having a glimpse into the life of a coach – has Mike missed his life as a professional rugby player since hanging up his boots?
“No, not really,” he said. “I had a brilliant summer and the wedding day was a great day. I’m working in the UK and abroad so it’s nice to go elsewhere to get some sun as well. It’s been a busy time since retiring and a lot of things in my life have changed since then.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved in rugby, but now I’m looking forward to the next step, trying to do some work in the media and maybe a bit of coaching as well. The experience of coaching Senghenydd Sirens was brilliant and I might like to do it again sometime.”
Aber make perfect start
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.
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.
Junior tournament a great success
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.
“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.”
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.
Winners and Runners up:
Winners – Penrhyncoch
Runners Up – Llambed
Winners –Bro Hedd Wyn
Runners Up – Lampeter
Winners – Bow Street
Runners Up – Berriw
Winners – Builth
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
Winners – Llanilar
Runners Up – Canton Rangers (Cardiff)
Winners – Padarn United
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
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
(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)
Large crowds expected for Junior tournament
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 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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