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Ystrad Prosper in the Mud

29 Jan

Ystrad Rhondda advanced to the next round of the Swalec Plate but they were pushed all the way by a workmanlike Fairwater outfit.

It was a game of endless endeavour on a seriously heavy pitch at Ashcroft Park with tries coming from Ystrad’s Dai Gratton and Anton Phillips for the home side. The boot of Alex Webber proved to be the difference on the day as the visitors won the game by 16 points to 5.

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RaboDirect Pro12: Five Young Players to Watch

31 Aug

The World Cup in New Zealand may be grabbing the headlines, but there will be plenty of rugby to watch on these shores over the coming months. So with the RaboDirect Pro 12 (formerly the Magners League) kicking off on Friday, The XV has decided to cast its eyes over five young players hoping to make an impression when the regions’ international players are away.

1. Macauley Cook (Lock, Blues)

Macauley Cook. Photo: Huw Evans

Will become Cardiff RFC’s youngest ever captain this season at just 19 years old. The imposing lock is used to the extra responsibility, however, as he skippered Wales Under-20s during this year’s Six Nations. A forceful runner and tackler with an excellent work rate and obvious leadership qualities, a real prospect.

2. Hanno Dirksen (Winger, Ospreys)

Qualifies for South Africa and the USA, but will be eligible to play for Wales in 12 months. Caught the eye with two well-taken tries in the recent friendly win against Russia, and his desire to play for Wales could soon see him in Warren Gatland’s plans. Powerful, pacey and a natural finisher, should get plenty of game time at the Ospreys this season.

3. Rhodri Williams (Scrum-half, Scarlets)

Rhodri Williams. Photo: Huw Evans

The latest off the Llanelli conveyor belt of scrum-halves, Williams is building himself a fine reputation with both his club Llandovery and his region. Quick, sharp and a crisp passer of the ball, Williams has represented Wales Under-18s and could find more opportunities to impress at Parc y Scarlets this season with Tavis Knoyle at the World Cup and Martin Roberts leaving for Northampton.

4. Harry Robinson (Winger, Blues)

Harry Robinson. Photo: Huw Evans

Still just 18, this explosive winger has caused a stir in his young career to date. Whether it has been in a starting role for the Wales Under-20s or from the bench with the Blues, the diminutive figure has left many players in his wake with his jinking, elusive running style. Should relish his chance to shine with Leigh Halfpenny at the World Cup.

5. Ashley Beck (Centre, Ospreys)

The Ospreys' Ashley Beck takes on Aironi. Photo: Huw Evans

His smooth handling skills complement the more rugged likes of Andrew Bishop in the Ospreys’ midfield, and such deftness could soon feature on an international stage. Has a keen an eye for the try line, and a peripheral vision which brings others into the game. At 21 years old, the rangy centre appears to be realising some of his considerable potential.

Warburton believes Blues can build Barca like dynasty

26 Apr

Blues openside Warburton is excited about the local talent coming through

WALES star Sam Warburton believes the Blues can build a Barcelona-esque  dynasty of success – and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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It’s ‘win or bust’ for Cardiff – Hodges

15 Apr

Richard Hodges knows Cardiff must stop Matthew Morgan at St Helens

CARDIFF RFC head coach Richard Hodges has admitted that his side are in a “win or bust” situation ahead of their clash with Swansea at St Helen’s tomorrow.

Ten team Premiership can work, but only if you give youth a chance – McIntosh

14 Apr

McIntosh says coaches must be brave to help Welsh rugby develop


PONTYPRIDD coach Dale McIntosh believes a 10-team Premiership can be beneficial for Welsh rugby – but only if coaches are brave enough to give youth a chance.

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Wales warned not to expect ‘too much too soon’ of Matthew Morgan

13 Apr

Morgan in action for Wales U20s

Ospreys skills coach Gruff Rees has warned against expecting “too much too soon” from Swansea starlet Matthew Morgan, as the young fly-half continues to impress.

Morgan has been in glittering form for the Ospreys and Swansea RFC this season, while he also starred for the Wales Under 20s during the Six Nations.

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Nigel Owens – Wales’s top official’s World Cup ambition

1 Apr
Nigel Owens hopes to head to the RWC later this year

WALES’S top referee, Nigel Owens, is focusing on hitting top form in what could be a career defining season.

The effervescent west-Walian, who was in Cardiff to referee the Welsh varsity match, finds out next week whether he is on the list of 11 elite referees selected by the IRB to officiate at this autumn’s World Cup in New Zealand.

And with a huge Heineken Cup quarter-final at the sold-out new Lansdowne Road between former champions Leicester and Leinster, as well as the possibility of taking charge of his third European final in Cardiff in May, Owens knows he needs to be at the top of his game.

“Fingers crossed I will be one of the 11 doing the world cup.

“Leinster-Leicester is a massive game with 52,000 people in the Aviva stadium. It will be as big as some of the internationals I have done,” Owens, who has refereed 26 tests, said.

“I love the Heineken Cup, people are so passionate about their region. I would say that 99 per cent of people at these games are very passionate rugby supporters and it makes for a brilliant atmosphere,” he said.

“That isn’t always the case with internationals as you have a different type of fan. There are more hospitality seats and perhaps some people who wont watch any other rugby than Six Nations in a year.”

“The Munster-Leinster semi-final at Croke Park in 2009 is one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in. I was aware it was more than a rugby game, it was an event, but it wasn’t until I watched the game back to review it that I thought ‘that was a special game, that was a privilege to be part of’,” he said.

“The first-ever rugby game at Soccer City, South Africa-New Zealand that was a hell of an atmosphere too.”

And whilst the lack of Welsh participation in the business stage of the competition means the door is open for Owens to join Chris White as the only men to have taken charge of three finals, he knows what he would prefer.

“I would happily not do the final and see a Welsh side win it,” he said. “I don’t know what is going wrong for the regions, we definitely have the players. Have they got it right on or off the field? I don’t know, but it’s very sad.”

“ I do think that everyone should be getting behind the regions though. It is great that we still have passionate rivalries like Cardiff-Ponty, and we should never lose that because that is what makes rugby special in this country but I do think some people need to grow up a bit and get behind the regions in the Magners and Heineken,” he said.

“We are only a small country and we need to pull together.”