Chairman Peter Rees previews Saturday’s home Cup game v Bargoed
Croeso cynnes iawn i pawb o Clwb Rygbi Bargod i Banc Yr Eglwys heddi! It is with great pleasure that we welcome Premiership newcomers Bargoed to Church Bank for our first National Cup home fixture of the 2016/17 season.
Drovers’ supporters will not need me to remind them (but I will anyway!) that 2015/16 was another great milestone in Llandovery RFC’s history with a second fantastic Cup Final victory on 1st May at the Principality Stadium. Whilst our first cup final victory (2007) will always be remembered for the last minute and heroic outcome against the self appointed “Best Club in the World” in the form of the city slickers Cardiff, the 2016 game was much more of an old fashioned local derby against our neighbours, the Quins, which was won through hard graft and determination.
In the current format the route to the final is never going to be easy and last year we had to play Cardiff (H), Newbridge (H), Ebbw Vale (A) & Pontypridd (NG). This year we have already had to overcome Principality Premiership League high flyers Aberavon away from home and today we face Bargoed, who should be underestimated at our peril after a tough introduction to the Premiership but an away victory in their first game of the second half of the season against Swansea RFC. The Drovers will have to again show the depth of character and flair that was apparent in both of our most recent fixtures to be certain of progression.
However I am sure our coaching team will be very satisfied with the way the squad is developing particularly as every player seems to be taking the opportunities that selection has offered them. This was clearly demonstrated by Mike Evans last week when he had a dynamic impact on the game as one of the “finishers” (as defined by Eddie Jones) against RGC 1404. It was great to see him in full attacking mode and free from the copious leg bandaging that seemed to characterise his early season outings (and congratulations on your engagement Mike!).
It is disappointing that we are today playing for the somewhat anonymous “National Cup” as a sponsor has yet to be confirmed and the WRU has yet to announce any sponsorship for the league competition next year. Whilst English (and to some degree Scottish, Irish & French) Rugby seems to be going from strength to strength with record attendances, transfer deals and international results, rugby in Wales needs a commercial kick up the ba**-**de.
Filling the Principality Stadium should not be enough for the leaders of our national game and I urge them to look at how Regional, Premiership and our premier Cup rugby competitions can be repackaged so that they draw more spectators and sponsors. The quality of rugby, at our level at least, deserves a greater audience and the atmosphere that they would generate. Over the years Welsh Rugby has faced a number of political crises but I honestly believe that none have been more critical than the decline in the attendances and the playing base that now characterises Welsh regional and club rugby.
Over recent weeks a number of our 1st XV squad have reached some key milestones in their career at Llandovery and whilst they have been announced and published on our website I don’t think they have been publicised as much as they deserve, so I am delighted to correct that now. Well done to Lee Rees on playing his 200th game against Aberavon (28 Jan), Mike Evans on playing his 100th game against Swansea (18 Jan), Dean Howells reaching his 150th game against Swansea (31 Dec), and finally Rhodri Jones on playing his 100th game against Merthyr way back on 19th November. Finally well done to Stuart Worrall in anticipation of him coming off the bench today to reach his 50th game. Da iawn bois!
Our match sponsors today are once again our ever loyal band of travelling supporters and our match ball is sponsored by Huw Davies of Llandre Farm, Pumpsaint. Thank You all, I hope you have a great time and enjoy the clubhouse hospitality. It was great to see so many people enjoy (despite the result) the English game in the clubhouse last week end and the positive feedback from the RGC supporters on social media was good to see.
Er Gwaethaf Pawb a Phopeth Ni Yma o Hyd! Ymlaen Y Porthmyn!
Peter Rees Cadeirydd/Chairman