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Otters topple the leaders

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NARBERTH superbly toppled Championship leaders Cardiff Met on Saturday (Oct 27) as they came away with a 16-13 victory.

The game started with Cardiff Met kicking off with the advantage of a strong, cold wind behind them playing towards the clubhouse end. Initially they pinned the Otters in their own half but were slowly being driven back with the Otters forwards in groups of three forcing their way forward and successfully retaining possession.

Jonathan Rogers playing his first game after a foot injury produced one of his cannonball kicks well into the Met half near their 22. The ball was fielded but the Otters were able to force the Met defender into touch. From the lineout, the Otters moved the ball through the threes, from the stand side into midfield before the referee awarded them a penalty. Nick Gale came forward and struck the ball perfectly to send the ball soaring between the posts giving the Otters an early lead.

The Met kicked off, which was fielded via Dan Smith, he  passed to Jonathan Rogers, the fly half produced one of his long passes out to centre Jack Price who was able to take the ball forward into Met’s 22 in inimitable forceful way before being brought to ground. From the breakdown the Otters pack drove forward before the ball landed in touch on the Redstone side of the ground on the 5 metre line.

The referee awarded a scrum from the lineout but the Otters were penalised for supposedly pushing before the ball was put in.  This enabled the Met to kick the ball just into the Otters half with the oters being penalised. Their fly half kicked the ball into the Otters 22. The fast backs followed up but the Otters forced the ball into touch.

From the lineout, the Met set up a rolling maul which the Otters pack expertly managed to halt with the referee awarding the Otters a scrum enabling scrum half Lewys Gibby to kick over the Met players heads.

Forced to retreat, the Met then regained the ball and scored a good try near the clubhouse corner having moved the ball quickly from the far side and managing to create a gap in the Otters sturdy defence, for their inside centre Jack Wright to break clear via a sudden gap appearing and touch down. Fly half Henry Johnson converted to take Cardiff Met into the lead, 3-7 on twenty minutes.

The Otters kicked off and in the ensuing play were awarded a scrum. The pack showed their control pushing the Met backwards forcing the Met to concede a penalty. Jonathon Rogers then kicked and gained the lineout.

From the lineout the Otters threes took the ball into the Met 22 and from the moved the ball from left to right, then switching back towards the far side. The referee awarded the Otters pack a scrum and who again showed their superiority in the tight causing the Met to concede another penalty.

Again Nick Gale came forward and with much concentration struck the ball between the posts bringing the score to 6-7 on 27 minutes.

From the restart Richard Rees fielded and drove forward followed by a series of drives, by the Otters pack with Cardiff Met defending strongly. However, the series of ruck and drive forced the Met back to the halfway line before offending, the referee awarding the Met a scrum. This had to be reset with the Otters forcing the Met eight back as the eight Otters scrummed strongly. The sloppy heel by the Met resulted in outside centre Jack Price putting in a grubber kick along the ground.

The continued pressure forced the Met player into touch. At the lineout, Met managed to spoil the throw in, gained possession 10 metres inside the Otters half before a series of quick passing movements.

They moved the ball back and fore across the pitch before a gap appeared and the burly centre  Oliver Morris showed surprising speed as he raced towards the line before Andrew Cook made a try saving tackle just one metre from the try line. The referee awarded the Otters a penalty at the breakdown which Jonathan Rogers safely found touch to relieve the pressure.

Play continued with both teams attempting to break through. The Met were awarded a scrum, heeling they kicked the ball into touch with the referee whistling half time with the score at 6-7.

In the second half the Otters were given a penalty after the Met were penalised for illegal crossing and they kicked to touch. At the lineout a Cardiff Met misdemeanour gave the Otters a scrum, then heeling the ball, it was moved swiftly only for the left wing to fail to take the pass with a strong possibility of a try being possible.

Play continued back and fore with both teams attempting to advance but being thwarted by both defences. Cardiff Met were penalised on 53 minutes just inside the Otters half. Jonathan Rogers kicked towards the clubhouse corner finding touch some fifteen metres from the line.

The Otters safely caught the throw in and set up a rolling maul moving to within five metres of the line number 8 Richard Rees broke clear and crossed over for a try towards the clubhouse corner. Nick Gale converted from a difficult position putting the Otters ahead 13-7.

Play continued and on 60 minutes Cardiff Met were awarded a penalty some 40 metres from the posts towards the far touchline. Using a torpedo style placement of the ball Henry Johnson added 3 points for the Met. The score was now 13-10.

Young Lewys Gibby who had performed well at scrum half was replaced by the experienced Rhys Lane and Bradley Davies replaced Dan Jacobs in the front row. Play continued with both teams attempting to make progress but both defences remained firm.

The scrummaging became a contest with the referee having to reset the scrum on occasions. The Otters were penalised and Henry Johnson kicked to half way, Jonathan Rogers gathered and this time the ball was carried by the wind over the dead ball line, a scrum was called near halfway with a Met put in, they heeled but at a subsequent ruck they were penalised.

At 71 minutes Nick Gale added three further points bring the Otters to a 16-10 lead. From the kick off the Met responded strongly managing to get to within 30 metres of the Otters try line via penalty kick. At the lineout they attempted to move towards the line but again the Otters defended strongly before managing to clear however, following a knock on, they were penalised.

Cardiff Met decided to run and force their way forward but at the breakdown the Otters gained the ball, Rhys Lane passed to Johnathan Rogers kicked long to the Cardiff Met 5 metre line. The Otters gained the ball at the lineout and forced their way forward for Rhys Lane to break out but was pulled down 2 metres from the line. Jack Price receiving the ball from the ruck attempted to force his way over but there was an infringement at the breakdown.

Then the pack were required to scrummage, the referee needed to reset the scrum. Cardiff Met had the put in heeled and forced their back down field to the halfway line. Further play took them to with 40 metres. The Otters were penalised and the last score of the game came when Johnson using his torpedo kick placed the ball between the posts on 79 minutes and right on 80 minutes the referee blew full time with the score 16-13.

Attack coach Deiniol Evans commented: “It was a very tight game against a very tough unbeaten Cardiff side, so it was nice for us to win. It was a tough game which could have gone either way. Our performance was excellent, I thought we played really well with some very good performances, the front five of the pack were superb again, the set piece was excellent.

“The boys carried hard Andrew Cooke played well, Richard Rees was excellent and Jack Price in the centre was very good. I think it was a really good result because they were unbeaten. We played well to our game plan. We should have scored a couple of tries, we could not do it first half and defended really well and fully deserved the win.”

News

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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News

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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Sport

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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