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Pembrokeshire’s Evans to start for Wales

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 Rob Evans: Set to earn his fourth cap

Rob Evans: Set to earn his fourth cap

WALES coach Warren Gatland has given former Haverfordwest rugby starlet Rob Evans a starting place in the front-row for Sunday’s opening Six Nations clash against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, whilst former Narberth player Jonathan Davies also makes a return to the starting line-up after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Evans starts at loose head and will earn his fourth cap in his third match against Ireland.

Rob became the 1,118th player to be capped by Wales when he came on for his debut in the second half of the home fixture against Ireland in last year’s competition and made his first start the following week against Italy in Rome.

He began his rugby journey with Haverfordwest RFC and went on to represent Pembrokeshire U12s, which saw him packing down against his fellow Wales prop Samson Lee, who at the time was playing for Llanelli.

Propping is in his blood as his younger brother Oli has propped for Narberth, whilst his father Graham was a front-rower for many years with Haverfordwest.

At 6ft 1ins and 18st 4lbs he is a formidable opponent who thrives in the loose, and Wales coach Gatland has hailed him as one for the future, saying: “Rob (Evans) gets a start at loose-head, he’s played well for us before and deserves a chance looking ahead to the next few years.”

As well as a start for Evans, Gatland sprung a surprise at his selection by also selecting Justin Tipiric and Blues winger Tom James in his starting 15.

Tipuric starts the game at the Aviva Stadium at openside flanker with captain Sam Warburton at blindside and Taulupe Faletau at number eight, completing an all-British and Irish Lions back-row.

In the back-line James, who last played for Wales in the autumn of 2010, and made his debut back in 2007, will win his 10th cap on the wing. James will form a new look back three alongside Gareth Anscombe and George North.  Anscombe, who made his international debut against Ireland last August, will make his first RBS 6 Nations start as he lines up at fullback.

Jonathan Davies returns to the side from injury for the first time since last year’s Six Nations and he is named alongside Jamie Roberts in midfield to reform Wales’ most capped centre pairing.

Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies are the halfbacks and they line-up together for the fifth consecutive match.

In the pack Evans is joined in the front-row by Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin and Scarlets prop Samson Lee.

Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones continue their partnership in the second row.

“We are excited by the make-up of the squad, it’s very experienced along with one eye looking to the future,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“We have been impressed with Tom James’ form for Cardiff Blues and we are excited by the mix of the back-row which has played well together before.  It’s great to see Jonathan

(Davies) back and alongside Jamie, which makes a pretty experienced midfield.  Gareth (Anscombe) at fullback also gives us the option of having two first receivers.

“We have a very experienced bench, with a lot of caps there and hopefully they will come on and make an impact.”

“It’s going to be a physical game. Two years ago they strangled us out of the match and played well and we have to rise to that challenge on Sunday.”

On the bench Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins and Tomas Francis provide the front-row cover with Bradley Davies and Dan Lydiate rounding off the forward contingent.  Davies will win his 50th cap if he takes to the field in Dublin. Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland and Alex Cuthbert provide the backline cover.

Wales team to play Ireland:

Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues).

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Haverfordwest County ask fans to stay away as football returns to Bridge Meadow

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HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY has asked fans not to attend the Bridge Meadow Stadium today, March 6, as the club restarts its JD Cymru Premier campaign.

The Bluebirds take on Cardiff Met in a game that kicks off at 2:30pm but, like all fixtures in the Cymru Premier, the game is being played behind closed doors.

A club statement asks fans not to congregate outside the stadium and adds that there are ‘rigorous protocols’ for those who must attend.

A spokesperson said: “Haverfordwest County AFC would like to urge all fans to stay at home for (the) fixture against Cardiff Met. For the foreseeable future, all matches will remain behind closed doors.

“The club, along with Welsh Government guidelines, explicitly forbids the congregation of fans outside the stadium to watch the game. There are numerous precautions in place to ensure that those who must attend the game, stick to rigorous protocols to remain safe.

“All match highlights will be available post-match, via Sgorio. We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Bridge Meadow, when it is safe to do so.”

The Club says that this will apply to all future home matches.

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Signed Wales shirts gifted to RNLI go up for auction

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FOLLOWING a winning start to the Six Nations Tournament, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have scored a winning try for the RNLI, gifting six signed rugby shirts to help save lives at sea.

Each rugby shirt has been signed by the full WRU squad and are accompanied by a certificate of authentication – a winning prize for any Welsh rugby fan.

To avoid a ruck for the WRU shirts the charity has placed all six signed shirts on an online auction, ensuring a fair game for all who wish to win the golden prize. The auction will be live until Wednesday, March 31, which allows plenty of time for supporters to bid for the team in red.

Each signed shirt includes Wales Captain, Mumbles RNLI supporter and the most capped international player of all time Alun Wyn Jones; as well as Louis Rees-Zammit, the Man of the Match in the nail-biting Scotland v Wales game.

Nick Evans, RNLI Fundraising and Partnership Lead said: ‘On behalf of the charity I would like to say a big thank you to the Welsh Rugby Union for donating these fantastic prizes to the RNLI. RNLI volunteers are on call 24-7 and are often called away from important events such as family celebrations – or international rugby tournaments – to respond to the pager if someone is in trouble at sea.

‘Like all charities, 2020 was a challenging year for the RNLI when all traditional fundraising had to stop – all our shops were closed, there were no collections and all events had to be cancelled. This is why we at the RNLI are so grateful to all the team at WRU for their ongoing support. The auction is now live and we would like to encourage all Wales rugby supporters to throw the RNLI a lifeline and place their bid for the winning prize.’

To place a bid or find out more about the charity auction please visit https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/rnliwru.

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Five subs to be allowed for JD Cymru Premier clubs

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THE FAW’s National Leagues Board has confirmed that JD Cymru Premier clubs will be permitted to make five substitutions in matches, in accordance with the Laws of the Game, until the end of the 2020-21 top-flight season.

FIFA extended the use of the rule, which was first introduced following the COVID-19 outbreak, citing “player welfare” as part of the reason for the temporary amendment to Law 3 of the Laws of the Game.

FIFA stated that “Some competitions which resumed in 2020 may have a shorter-than-usual recovery/preparation period before the start of their next season.”

“For many competitions, the 2020/21 season will involve matches being played in a condensed period due to a delayed start and the inability to end later than usual because of major international tournaments.”

With the JD Cymru Premier set to restart on March 2, the National Leagues Board has approved the use of the rule in the JD Cymru Premier until the end of the current campaign.

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