Special feature by Huw S Thomas. Pic (by Ian Williams): Ammanford duo Gareth Potter left with son Noah, key men in the current Llandovery success
Llandovery’s success in recent years has owed much to the expertise, work ethic and influence of Head Coach Euros Evans.
He led the Drovers to a WRU Cup final win in 2016, the Welsh Indigo Premiership title in 2023 and now sees his side sit proudly top of the Premiership with realistic dreams of a Cup and League double.
But Evans is the first to acknowledge that the “Ammanford link” has become an integral part of Llandovery’s good fortune.
The Ammanford club and locality has provided the Drovers with some outstanding players over recent years – Shaun Miles, Mike Evans, Craig Woodall, Rhodri Williams and Bryn Griffiths come to mind.
All former pupils of Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, they were talented and great competitors as was former Newport player Simon Davies who spent many years as assistant coach to Euros Evans.
As much as Evans values the player connection, his warmest praise comes for assistant coach Gareth Potter, an out and out Ammanford man and product.
“Gareth has been an integral part of Llandovery success in recent years. He has a great rugby brain that allows him to prepare meticulously week in week out.”
“The club are extremely lucky to have his services as one of Wales’s prime thinkers on the game.”
As attack coach Potter must take huge credit for the style of exciting and often innovative play that has become synonymous with Llandovery.
Current statistics reveal that the Drovers have scored an average four tries and 30 points a game with an attack masterminded by the former Ammanford fly half and captain.
Potter’s CV underlines Llandovery’s good fortune.
He has jus joined the Trinity St David Academy of Sport as Rugby Coordinator and has vast experience in rugby coaching and performance analysis..
He was asked to help coach the Scarlets Academy players and spent twelve successful years there as Regional Analyst and kicking coach.
Like father, like son, 17 year old Noah Potter is part of the Llandovery coaching team as a rugby analyst.
Euros Evans was quick to stress the role played by young Potter , a pupil at Maes Gewndraeth and a promising scrum half.
“No exaggeration but here is a future Welsh team analyst!” said Evans “ He is at every game, his attention to detail and work ethic allows him to produce work and statistics of the highest and often complex order to help our preparations.”
Yet another link between Ammanford and Llandovery is current Drovers defence coach Tom Hancock who with the help of contact coach Nic Cudd has made his charges the best defensive side in the Premiership – conceding the lowest number of tries – 25, and points – 215
A PE teacher at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, he also coaches Mynydd Mawr and Dinefwr U16s and in that role helps the identification of the next generation of local players.
Drovers supporters have fond memories of the Ammanford boys.
Shaun Miles was an indefatigable flanker, Mike Evans an exciting attacking full back or centre and Craig Woodall a powerful centre whose promising career was blighted by injury.
All three put on the Llandovery shirt over 100 times as did Griffiths on 160 occasions and all four played in the 2016 Cup final.
Bryn Griffiths remains one of the best ever club signings alongside John Westgarth, Adam Warren and Jack Jones.
Short of steel in the engine room, Llandovery signed Griffiths in 2012 after the lock had returned to Wales after a spell at French club Orleans.
“Bryn is a quality and experienced player that will add to the Drovers forward play this year,” said Euros Evans at the time.
“Youngsters need good role models to look up to and learn from. Bryn is totally professional in his approach and he is fitting in really well to our environment.”
His finest moment for the Drovers was his key role in the pack that set up the 25-18 win over Carmarthen Quins in the 2016 WRU Cup Final.
Rhodri Williams, son of the former Ammanford scrum half Alan Williams, played 44 times for Llandovery before turning professional, gaining three Welsh caps.
Brothers Dino and Marco Dallavalle feature prominently in the Llandovery pack, young Ammanford wing Elis Lewis is in the current squad and a highly rated prospect as is another of the Potter family – fly half Sam- who is training at Church Bank.
The link between the clubs has also worked the other way, with the Drovers sending players down to Ammanford to “work at the coal face ” in the tough environment of the lower leagues.
As Euros Evans explained to the Guardian.
“We work closely with Ammanford. They’ve got an excellent coaching team that fully buys in to the player development model that underpins the pro game in Wales.”
“British Lion Wyn Jones and Wales prop Samson Lee both learnt their trade there.”
“Neither found it easy but with the right support, structures and good coaching they quickly progressed through the pathway.”
The Ammanford – Llandovery connection is prospering in all directions, on and off the field, witness the posse of rugby men pouring onto the train in Tirydail over the Christmas period, off north to cheer the Drovers.
With the challenges that lie ahead, Llandovery can be confident that Ammanford will do its bit to fly the Carmarthenshire flag and prove that West is still best from the Amman down to the Tywi valley.
Shaun Miles watched by Craig Woodall scores for Llandovery against Ebbw Vale. Credit: Gwenno Davies / RileySports