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Fawcett sends Bluebirds through in extra time

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TWO extra time goals from Ben Fawcett sent Haverfordwest County into the third round of the League Cup at the expense of holders Bridgend Street on Saturday (Sept 8).

The Street had beaten Haverfordwest County on their way to winning the Cup last season and the Bluebirds were out for some revenge in manager Wayne Jones’ first game in charge.

Both sides had chances early on but it was the Street who went ahead as Paul Fowler tucked away a penalty midway through the half.

The Bluebirds looked to get themselves back into the game and eight minutes before half time they did just that as Elliot Scotcher crossed into the box for Sean Pemberton to head home.

Then on the stroke of half time Trundle was brought down in the box and he was given the chance to put the Bluebirds into the lead. He made no mistake and the home side led 2-1 when referee Tom Bevan blew for half time.

Scotcher then saw a shot go just wide at the start of the second half before he again teed up Pemberton but this time his header was wide of the mark.

After some good build up play, Trundle played the ball through for Ricky Watts but he shot over the bar.

Ben Fawcett was then brought on for Trundle with fifteen minutes to go and he nearly had an instant impact but his header went wide.

Then with ten minutes to go the visitors levelled as the ball was played to Callum Smith after keeper Steve Hall had come out of his net and the striker shot into an empty net.

Smith then came close again moments later but his long range effort was pushed wide by Hall.

It looked as if the game would go to extra time but with four minutes left Leon Luby played an excellent ball to the back post for Jack Wilson who volleyed in superbly to make it 3-2.

There was still time for more drama when Fawcett won the ball back before going one on one with keeper Damian Lack who just got a hand on it to pluck the ball away.

Watts also saw a shot saved before Lack pulled a dangerous cross out of the air with Fawcett waiting to knock in.

With time running out Bridgend looked to force the game into extra time but Luby was in the right place as he cleared a David Brooks effort off the line.

In the last minute of time added on captain Paul Fowler unleashed an unstoppable shot which flew into the top left hand corner of the net.

An extra thirty minutes was needed to see if the teams could be separated and it was the Street who nearly went ahead when White flicked through for Brooks but his shot was saved.

Smith then saw a shot go over before Fraser Finlay hit the post for the Bluebirds.

Six minutes into extra time Fawcett fired into the top corner to put the home side into the lead.

Five minutes later a corner wasn’t cleared properly and sub Michael Nessbert lashed the ball into the net to level the scores once again.

Bridgend again had another chance to score but it remained 4-4 when the whistle went for half time.

The second half of extra time got underway with the Bluebirds looking to get themselves back into the lead for the fourth time.

They did just two minutes in as Ricky Watts won the ball well on the edge of the box and he crossed to the back post for Wilson who headed back across into the middle for Fawcett who headed in.

Wilson then saw a header saved as the home side looked to make the game safe.

Bridgend pushed for another equaliser but tempers boiled over as Brooks was shown a second yellow card for a kick out and goalscorer Nessbert was also given his marching orders for what appeared to be dissent.

They then saw the game out to book their place in the next round and they will look forward to seeing who they will be drawn against.

Before that the Bluebirds will return to league action on Saturday, September 15, when they play at home to Afan Lido, kick off 2:30pm.

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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Walking rugby is a game for all ages and abilities

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WALKING RUGBY has taken off throughout Wales in the last 12 months and is benefitting participants in more ways than one.

The participants – male and female of all ages and abilities including one man who lost his sight 13 years ago – talk of clear benefits to their physical health and crucially, their mental health through being involved in the groups.

The number of Walking Rugby groups in Wales grew organically from two in December 2018 to 16 just twelve months later and new groups are starting up all the time.

A range of organisations from rugby clubs to charities, Health Boards and third sector bodies are seeing the benefit of the inclusive rugby format and engaging more than 300 participants on a weekly basis.
The Aneurin Bevan Mental Health unit has worked with the Dragons Community team to set up a team of their own, training weekly at Rodney Parade.

Kevin Hale, Community Support Worker for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board Forensic Psychiatry Service, who set up the Dragons NHS Walking Rugby team said, “From a mental health point of view it’s been priceless, the social benefits, in particular, are tremendous. Many of the players were very shy at the start and quite withdrawn but confidence levels and communication skills have grown massively and they have told us Walking Rugby has helped them in other areas of their lives.

“It started off as a means to get some of our service users active and also to have some social time afterwards to discuss any issues they’re having. It’s gone from strength to strength and we’ve opened up the opportunity so that anyone can join us at Rodney Parade on a Tuesday afternoon.

Christian Hyde now plays for the Dragons NHS team despite having lost his sight through diabetes.
“I played rugby from the age of 8 to 26. After losing my sight, I had to stop playing – and refereeing. You really miss being part of a rugby environment so being back involved in the game is huge for me and something I never thought I’d do.

“I’m already involved with the visually impaired rugby at Cardiff Blues but being a Dragons supporter, I’m thrilled to be able to train at Rodney Parade and to be involved in matches again like the recent festival. To have ten teams turn up shows the enjoyment we’re all having.”

Anne Jackson plays for Pontyclun Walking Rugby. She said “I’m the only woman at the club at the moment and we could do with more. It really is for everyone. It’s wonderful. It keeps you active – I’ve got fitter since playing Walking Rugby. We train twice a week on a Monday evening and Wednesday morning. We laugh most of the time, we all get on very well.”

Former Wales full-back and Cross Keys coach Morgan Stoddart coaches the Cambrian Walking Rugby group in the Rhondda. He said, “We regularly get 15 or 16 players at our twice-weekly training sessions, we had 12 teams at recent Walking Rugby festivals in Treorchy and Cambrian so it’s gaining popularity all the time.

“Quite a few of the players played rugby in their youth and others haven’t played much sport at all throughout their lives. One lady, Frances Jones, is a regular player and still going strong at 84!

“They enjoy the exercise and also the friendship and camaraderie they gain from it. I enjoy it too, it’s a real change from competitive league rugby as it’s so open to male and female players of all ages and abilities.”
While the format is fully inclusive to all ages, genders and abilities, its main appeal is to Wales’ older and socially isolated population. With more than 877 000 people over 60 in Wales (just under 30% of the population), and that figure set to rise to over one million by 2030*, social isolation and mental health issues are a real issue.

The Welsh Government Strategy for Older People in Wales (2013-2023): Living Longer, Ageing Well, states that loneliness is a real health risk – ‘the same as smoking and twice that of obesity.. that staying physically active protects mental and physical health and that older people say that if they are able to participate in social and leisure activities, they are more likely to say they feel well.’

Based on this evidence, it is no surprise that some GPs are now referring patients to Walking Rugby for the physical and social benefits it brings.

Greg Woods, WRU Enterprise Manager said: “Anyone can play Walking Rugby, whether you’re a lapsed rugby player or new to the game. It’s a social, enjoyable activity with obvious physical and mental health benefits. There is clearly a growing demand for more Walking Rugby opportunities around Wales and we are working with the current groups and a wide range of other partners to not only cater for that demand but provide support to the volunteers running the clubs and work with others to set up new outlets.”

WRU Community Director Geraint John added: “It’s exciting to see the growth of Walking Rugby and to think of its future benefits to the health and well-being of the people of Wales – both the current or recent rugby-playing population and those who could join the rugby family through the Walking Rugby format”.

If you want to start a walking rugby club, get in touch for advice and support participation@wru.wales

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