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Scintillating win sends sales soaring

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THE wow-factor woven into Wales’ dramatic NatWest 6 Nations win over Scotland at Principality Stadium on Saturday (Feb 3) has caused a significant ticket sales spike ahead of the next home clash for Warren Gatland’s side – against Italy on Sunday, March 11 (3.00pm).

Gatland must first face England tomorrow after saying ‘same again’ to the side which claimed a bonus point against the Scots and scored four tries in an impressive 34-7 victory, the second highest winning margin for Wales in the 135 year history of the fixture (the highest being the 51-3 win in 2014).

The long-serving Wales supremo has made just one change for the trip to Twickenham – to his bench where George North replaces Owen Watkin – and another big performance this weekend would surely see the remaining scarce supply of tickets to see the Azzurri in Cardiff run-out completely – with the 74,500 capacity ground already nearing capacity.

Wales’ Six Nations climax against France, on the final weekend of the Championship, is already sold-out and a trip to Ireland follows this weekend’s clash with England, so the Italy game is the last remaining chance for many to see Wales this campaign and supporters are warned to act quickly to avoid disappointment.

“We have been selling tickets at a rate of over 1,000 a-day since the performance against Scotland, more than doubling the figures of the previous week,” said a Welsh Rugby Union spokesperson.

“A limited amount of tickets are still available for the clash with Italy, priced from £20 for children or £60 for adults, and they are best accessed online at wru.wales/tickets or from your local club.

“But they are selling fast and a big performance at Twickenham on the weekend would surely see sold-out signs soon follow for Italy’s visit to Cardiff on Mothering Sunday.

“So the message is clear, if you want to see this exciting Wales side during the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, it’s still possible, but you must act quickly.”

Tickets are available now from www.wru.wales/tickets or from a rugby club near you.

A concessionary price ticket is available in Cardiff for the first time in the Championship, for the round-four meeting with the Azzurri, meaning U16s can access this game for £20.

And, in another first for the national stadium, a unique ‘curtain-raiser’ also means supporters will be treated to two-matches-for-the-price-of-one.

The event is a double-header starting with Wales Women’s Six Nations clash with Italy (which kicks off at  11.45am), with the men’s game following immediately after – making the day a must-see occasion for all the family.

Official Hospitality Packages are available from 02920 822 413 or visit www.wru.wales/hospitality and official travel packages can be purchased from the WRU’s official travel supplier, Gullivers Sports Travel by visiting www.gulliverstravel.co.uk/event/six-nations .

The WRU’s official resale marketplace, which gives clubs the opportunity to re-sell a limited selection of their allocated tickets to the general public, can also be found at www.seatwave.com/wru

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Antwhistle praises Pembrokeshire’s best

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GRAEME ANTWHISTLE, Head Coach of Swim Wales visited Pembrokeshire County Swimming for a two day review of their development pathway on Thursday (Feb 7) and Friday (Feb 9).

Swim Wales work closely with their Regional Development Centres where Antwhistle has a critical friend role towards supporting Pembrokeshire Head Coach Craig Nelson and his Assistant Sam Jones who are working with the best swimmers in Pembrokeshire.

The overall aim is one of driving forward a pathway for producing success on the international stage, with the Governing Body offering opportunities to all swimmers in the Principality to reach that goal.

Pembrokeshire County is an integral cog in this wheel where swimmers in the National Performance squad and National Development squad are on his radar and from his recent visit he commented, “I’m impressed with the progress with swimmers from Pembrokeshire, where it was a noted success their performances at the Swim Wales Welsh Winter Open.”

Prior to taking up his position with Swim Wales Antwhistle was High Performance Coach for British Swimming based at Bath National Centre, an impressive credential for a man who has been coaching for over two decades.

Antwhistle has guided athletes such as Michael Jamieson, Jazz Carlin, Siobhan O’Connor and Andrew Willis to a combined 5 Olympic silver medals, attending high profile events on behalf of Great Britain at the European Youth Olympic Games, European Junior Championships, World Junior Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.

Antwhistle has an abundance of skills, knowledge and a positive personality where his enthusiasm rubs off on swimmers, coaches and parents as Swim Wales strive to develop their performance pathway for clubs and coaches.

Antwhistle went on to say: “The progress of Pembrokeshire swimmers is clearly visible from when I last visited in November; credit to the squad for taking on board the messages of both support and challenges that I have set them as they are responding.

“If they can see the progress within their training and recognise what they are doing well whilst also having an objective view of the areas they need to improve, then they can believe in themselves to deliver the performance they deserve at next month’s Easter National championships.”

The Pembrokeshire squads have the support of a volunteer committee, headed by Chairman Paul Hayley (Tenby Dolphins), who works closely with the coaching team, Swim Wales and Pembrokeshire Leisure who are funding partners in the initiative.

Recent developments have seen the swimmers working under the guidance of Strength and Academy Wales and Claire Davies [Physiologist] to provide the best opportunity for achieving success.

Antiwhistle concluded: “The biggest challenge is to maintain focus as all of the ten performance clubs in Wales are now receiving this level of support and we are aiming for the sport to become ever more competitive.”

With Swimming on such a high in the County, the performance programme is attracting swimmers who weren’t previously based in the County which shows there is no better time to join the umbrella pathway for swimming.

Young people, after completing Wave 6 of the Learn to Swim programme can join one of six development clubs (Pembroke & District; Tenby Dolphin; Haverfordwest Seals; Milford Tigers; Fishguard Flyers and Preseli Panthers) and could then progress to the Performance Squads and possibly International success.

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Biggar, Williams and Halfpenny in Wales team to face Ireland

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WALES have made three changes to their starting XV to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (KO 14.15) with British & Irish Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny all returning to the side.

Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury to make his 61st appearance for his country and will line up alongside Gareth Davies at half-back.

Halfpenny and Williams join Steff Evans in the back-three with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams continuing their partnership in the midfield.

Wales have named an unchanged pack for the trip to Dublin.  The all-Scarlets front-row of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee feature for a third consecutive game.  Cory Hill partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.

“It is great to be able to bring so much experience back into the starting XV and into the backline,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will take charge of Wales for the 100th time.

“It is the first week we have had everyone in the ‘green’ in terms of availability which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important test match against a very good Ireland side.

“We have been pleased with the depth we have developed in the back-three and pleased with how those players have gone but having the experience of Dan, Liam and Leigh coming back in is hugely important.

“We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too.”

Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis are named as the front-row replacements with Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent.  Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe and George North provide the back-line cover.

Wales Team to play Ireland:

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (75 Caps)

Liam Williams (Saracens) (45 Caps)

Scott Williams (Scarlets) (53 Caps)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (3 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (60 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (29 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (54 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (35 Caps)

Cory Hill (Dragons) (12 Caps)

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (115 Caps) CAPT

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (15 Caps)

Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (9 Caps)

Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (19 Caps)

Replacements:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (4 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (28 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (59 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (54 Caps)

Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)

George North (Northampton Saints) (70 Caps)

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Swimming Club fly the flag at National Urdd Finals

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LOCAL swimmers from Pembroke & District Swimming Club came out in force to represent Sir Thomas Picton School, Haverfordwest and Pembroke Comprehensive School in the annual Urdd National Swimming Gala.

The competition took place on Sunday (Jan 13) at Cardiff International Pool where Pembrokeshire County swimmers raced against the best swimmers across the country, with Pembroke and & District S.C. as one of six development clubs working in an umbrella pathway of Pembrokeshire County Swimming Performance Pathway.

Sam Jones Assistant Coach County coach expressed his delight saying: “It’s great to see Pembrokeshire swimmers representing their local schools at the URDD finals in Cardiff, not only is it great acknowledgment for swimmers individually, but most important to showcase the schools for their support in to the pupils education and sporting achievements.”

The Pembrokeshire swimming pathway is designed to capture children who start the sport with Pembrokeshire Leisure Learn-to-swim, joining Development clubs like Pembroke & District to progress to the Performance squads under the coaching of Jones and the County Head coach Craig nelson.

The county swimmers are performing well at regional and national level to take the county to new heights, as shown by the performance of Pembrokeshire in the Urdd gala.

Jones concluded by urging swimmers to get involved saying: “Swimmers should get involved with their local club, to be part of the success at national level, representing your school and enjoying the sport with friends.”

Results:

Charlie Shiels (Pembroke): 100m Breast stroke (Bronze) 200IM (Finalist)

Lauren Omnet (Pembroke) 100m Breast stroke (Finalist)

Arron Fitzsimmons (STP) 100m Backstroke (Finalist), 50m Butterfly (Finalist): Relay (200m Freestyle) Silver; Relay (200m Medley) Gold

Rosie Llewellyn (Pembroke ) 100m Breast stroke (Silver)

Hannah Greenwood, Ben Hilary, Charlie Shiels, Lena Hughes (Pembroke) 200m Mixed relay: Silver Mixed relay team events and obtained silver medals (Pictured).

Taylor Wilson (Pembroke) 200IM (Finalist)

Primary School

Callum Keane Boys under 10 25m Freestyle (Finalist)

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