Chairman Peter Rees previews Saturday’s home Premiership game v RGC1404
Croeso cynnes iawn i pawb o Clwb Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 i Banc Yr Eglwys heddi! It is with great pleasure that we welcome RGC 1404 to Church Bank for our first game of the season 2017/18. We must also take the opportunity to congratulate RGC on a fantastic first season at this level, obviously the former Drovers that are now leading the coaching in North Wales are passing on the skills they developed at Church Bank to great effect!
As we play our first league game of the season on the August Bank Holiday weekend we are again looking at a new league structure and for those who have not followed the changes over the off season please note that the Principality Welsh Premiership will initially be divided into two groups of eight teams for this and the next season. Aberavon, Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery, Llanelli, Neath, RGC 1404 and Swansea will form the west whilst holders Merthyr, Bargoed, Bedwas, Cardiff, Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Newport and Pontypridd are in the east.
The clubs in each region will play each other home and away in the first half of the season before all 16 sides join together, with points being carried over from the regional format. The sides will then play each other once (either home or away), meaning clubs will have 29 guaranteed league games.
At the split, points will be allocated to clubs based on league positions so the winners of the east and west leagues will go into the second half of the season with eight points. The clubs in second place will carry seven points into the 16-team league, down to the eighth placed clubs who will carry one point.
There will be no end-of-season play-offs and the club who finishes top of the table will be crowned overall champions.
This format replaces last season's format which clubs and supporters found very frustrating with a lack of guaranteed fixture list and regular games throughout the season. Let’s hope it works! But perhaps more importantly let’s hope that the review of Premiership rugby initiated again by the WRU and due to commence in September 17 in order to inform the structure and funding of our rugby fully recognises the great strides achieved over recent seasons and how much we contribute to the development of players in Wales. And on that note can I take this opportunity to congratulate all the Drovers who have represented Wales at various levels over the summer. We will give them all greater recognition in future programme notes but we cannot miss the opportunity to congratulate Wyn Jones on gaining his first Welsh caps on tour down under. I am sure the achievement brought great pleasure to Clynmawr and Nantfforest in what was otherwise a sad summer for the Jones family.
This season the Drovers will be skippered by back row man Richard Brooks , with Lee Rees acting as his vice-captain. Two great favourites with our supporters and we wish them the best of luck! We hope to continue to develop future regional and international players and therefore we are delighted that Corey Baldwin, Scott Jenkins, Lewis Ellis-Jones and Tomi Lewis, all now Scarlets academy players, will continue their development at Church Bank, whilst Wales Under 18 prop Llyr Green, a former Coleg Sir Gâr student, is joining the club. This youthful talent will benefit from playing alongside more experienced new signings including former Scarlets wing, and Wales World Cup Sevens winner, Lee Williams, old Llandoverian and Wales Under 20 (and U16 & U18) lock Jack Jones and ex-Wales Under 18 hooker Ricky Guest.
Whilst we are playing at Church Bank our Second and Youth XVs are playing in Dyffryn Nant Conwy in recognition of the contribution that Emrys Evans made to Llandovery RFC on and off the field. On that note we will, as customary, today remember with a minute’s silence before the kick off, a number of club supporters that have sadly passed away over the off season. We pass on our condolences to their families one and all.
Meanwhile our game today is being sponsored by Beer Gas Cymru (gas suppliers to the clubhouse and a company owned and run by the father of a former Drover and Tigers’ player now commencing his first season with the Cardiff Blues – Jack Roberts!) and the match balls have been sponsored by Doug Davies, Derek Jones, Dan Jones and Mickey Gough and by Tom Pollak. Thank you very much for your generous support. I would like to thank George Parker for his continued loyal support over many seasons.
Er Gwaethaf Pawb a Phopeth Ni Yma o Hyd! Ymlaen Y Porthmyn!
Peter Rees Cadeirydd/Chairman