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Wales announce team to play France

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WALES kick off the 2019 GUINNESS Six Nations in Paris against France on Friday evening captained by Alun Wyn Jones, making his 49th appearance in the tournament.

Jones lines up in the second-row alongside fellow Osprey Adam Beard with Josh Navidi returning from injury to start in the back-row alongside British & Irish Lions Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.

In the front-row Rob Evans and Tomas Francis pack down alongside Ken Owens who becomes Wales’ most capped hooker, making his 61st appearance for his county.

Tomos Williams will make his first Six Nations appearance at scrum-half lining up alongside regional teammate Gareth Anscombe at fly-half.

Scarlets duo Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies continue their partnership in midfield with Josh Adams, George North and Liam Williams comprising the back-three.

Wales, who finished second in the tournament in 2018, face France in Paris on Friday before travelling to Rome to play Italy the weekend after.  Warren Gatland’s team is currently on a nine match winning streak and Wales’ head coach knows the importance of starting their campaign well.

“We are looking forward to kicking off the Six Nations and kicking off our 2019 campaign as a whole,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“We come into the game on an impressive run of results but we know how tough it will be to face France in Paris in the tournament opener.

“It will be a huge contest but we are excited going into it. We have a great deal of experience across the team and on the bench and we want to kick things off well on Friday.”

Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Samson Lee provide Wales’ front-row replacements with Dragons pair Cory Hill and Aaron Wainwright completing the forward contingent. The experience continues on the bench with Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar and Owen Watkin providing the backline cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY FRANCE:

(Friday, February 1, KO 21.00 Local, 20.00 UK – BBC ONE)

15. Liam Williams (51 Caps)

14. George North (79 Caps)

13. Jonathan Davies (68 Caps)

12. Hadleigh Parkes (11 Caps)

11. Josh Adams (6 Caps)

10.Gareth Anscombe (21 Caps)

9. Tomos Williams (6 Caps)

1. Rob Evans (31 Caps)

2. Ken Owens (60 Caps)

3. Tomas Francis (36 Caps)

4. Adam Beard (8 Caps)

5. Alun Wyn Jones (120 Caps) (CAPT)

6. Josh Navidi (11 Caps)

7. Justin Tipuric (60 Caps)

8. Ross Moriarty (26 Caps)

Replacements:

16. Elliot Dee (13 Caps)

17. Wyn Jones (10 Caps)

18. Samson Lee (38 Caps)

19. Cory Hill (22 Caps)

20. Aaron Wainwright (3 Caps)

21. Gareth Davies (36 Caps)

22. Dan Biggar (65 Caps)

23. Owen Watkin (8 Caps)

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Bluebirds awarded promotion to the Cymru Premier League

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Paul Davies MS and David Hughes during a visit to Haverfordwest County AFC before lockdown restrictions were introduced in Wales

HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY AFC have secured their promotion to the Cymru Premier League.

Following the Football Association of Wales (FAW) decision back in March to curtail all domestic football throughout Wales, many teams have waited in angst for clarification on how the promotion and relegation process would be decided.

The FAW, confirmed on Tuesday, June 16, using the ‘average points per game’ method that Haverfordwest County AFC had done enough to be promoted to the Cymru Premier for the upcoming 2020/2021 season.

Taking to their website to confirm the news, the club said “It is nothing less than Wayne, the coaching staff, players, board and volunteers deserve after a fantastic effort last season.

“It has been a long wait to learn our fate, but the club and its staff have worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to ensure we had as much in place as possible, and following the announcement we can now hit the ground running and prepare for next season.

“We cannot wait to welcome the best teams in Wales to The Bridge Meadow!”

Local Member of the Welsh Parliament Paul Davies has also added his congratulations to Haverfordwest County AFC on their promotion back to the JD Cymru Premier League.

Commenting on the achievement, Paul Davies said “It’s great that Haverfordwest County will once again compete in the Premier National League of Wales with the likes of The New Saints, Barry Town and newly crowned champions Connah’s Quay Nomads. The management and players have done a fantastic job in gaining promotion from the JD Cymru South League.”

“With the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium widely regarded as being one of the top grounds in Welsh non-league football, it’s only fitting that the Bluebirds will be back in the premier division.”

“I would also take the opportunity to thank David Hughes and Rob Davies for the work they have done as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the club respectively. I have known David for a number of years and he has worked tirelessly for the club. I’m delighted to learn that both David and Rob will stay on the Board as Robert Edwards takes over as Chairman. Their knowledge and experience will be vital moving forward into this exciting new era.”

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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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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