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Slow start costs Otters in thriller

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A SLOW start cost Narberth on Saturday (Mar 30) but they still put up a big fight before succumbing to a 42-34 defeat at the hands of Tata Steel.

The Otters fielded a few replacements due to injury but the subs bench was strong with experienced, hardened players likely to make an impact.

Tata attacked from the off with some early pressure with the Otters defence holding firm. Both sides attempted to move the ball through the hands but the strong tackling created a number of knock ons’.

Play remained in midfield until the Steelmen set up a kick and chase scenario which the Otters safely minored as it went over the try line.

The first try came ten minutes into the game with Tata Steel advancing into the Otters 22 they stretched the Otters defence enabling their wing Morgan Williams to sprint through the gap created to score with fly half Dan Gurenani converting.

Within two minutes, the Steelmen scored a second try. The Otters restarted the game after the first try and quickly set up an attack only to lose possession in the close forward exchange. Tata Steel moved the ball quickly with flanker Dan Griggs breaking through to score with Dan Gurenani converting. Suddenly Tata Steel had a fourteen point to nil lead and looked very threatening with such a start.

Photos by Myrddin Dennis

The Otters responded and Keiron Jones made an effective break to reach the Tata Steel five metre line before he was tackled. A lineout followed with the Otters winning the jump setting up a maul which quickly collapsed with the ref awarding Tata Steel a scrum.

The Otters continued their efforts and were awarded a penalty thirty metres from the line which Jonathan Rogers slotted over for three points. Tata Steel restarted using a grubber kick and when the Otters attempted to collect and move forward they knocked the ball forward in the tackle. The ref blew his whistle and awarded a scrum which had to be reset and once the scrum was set the ref awarded the Steelmen a penalty which was about forty metres from the posts, Dan Gurenani kicked adding a further three points making the score 17-3.

Five minutes later on the half hour the referee awarded Tata Steel a controversial penalty try. They were attacking close to the Otters line and from what appeared to be a simple knock on awarded the penalty try.

This was followed with the Otters setting up attacks but knocking on in the tackle. Scrum half Lewys Gibby from the heel passed to the right before there was another knock on.

However, after a series of plays Jack Price regained the ball and in typical barn storming style forced his way over the line for an unconverted try to make it 24-8 at half time.

Whilst the Steelmen looked the stronger side, Otter supporters were remembering a past game where they were losing quite heavily but turned the game around and ended winning.

Tata Steel restarted the second half and begun to look the stronger scrummaging team.

Jonathan Rogers gathered the restart and responded with one of his long kicks which Tata Steel gathered and attacked strongly up field only to knock on at the breakdown. Rogers replied kicking into touch well into the opposition half. Tata Steel failed to throw the ball straight at the lineout and the ref awarded the Otters a scrum. The Otters made a further change with Dan Jacobs replacing Dewi Williams with Tom Kaijak moving into the second row. This change restored the Otters scrummage with the Otters heeling, Tom Powell broke away from the scrum and fed Lewys Gibby who passed to Jonathan Rogers. He then threw a long pass out to Jack Price who moved strongly forward before handing the ball to wing Yannnick Parker who crossed the line for an unconverted try.

Within five minutes Tata Steel responded with a try by replacement Steff Davies again converted by Dan Gurenani to make it 31-13.

From the restart, the Tata Steel number eight gathered the ball broke out of their half and in the movement that followed the Otters defence were adjudged offside. This enabled Dan Gurenani to kick a further three points to their score on fifty minutes.

The Otters rallied, Jonathan Rogers kicked into touch on the opposition 22. Tata infringed and the Otters kicked towards the corner. At the lineout Alex Jenkins jumped and taking clean ball set up a rolling maul, the ball was released and moved right with Tata Steel defending defiantly before Jack Price forced his over for his second try. Ianto Griffiths came forward and converted the try. The score was now 34-20.

The Otters followed this with a further attack before conceding a penalty which Dan Gurenani added a further three points. From the restart the Otters set up several attempts to proceed downfield with Jack Price prominent as he forced his way over the gain line.

On 64 minutes he took a quick penalty in the opposition 22 and crossed the line to touch down. Again Ianto Griffiths converted bringing the score to 37-27.

On 70 minutes Tata suffered a yellow card for taking out Alex Jenkins. Before this the Otters moved to near the line, the referee awarded a penalty and chose a scrum. This had to be reset and after a further infringement awarded the Otters a penalty try. This had the Otter supporters on edge with the score now 37-34, a possible win seemed on the cards.

However on 78 minutes hooker Jake Lewis scored an unconverted try. This was followed by a breakout by Tom Powell who raced downfield only to be caught near the 5 metre line but unfortunately was not supported.

Tata recovered and a few minutes later the game ended with the final score 42-34 with the Otters gaining a single bonus point.

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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