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Otters return to second

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NARBERTH returned to second place in the Championship on Saturday (Apr 6), as they beat Maesteg Quins 16-11 at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

It was the final home game of the season for the Otters and with so many of their players injured they had several permit players in the squad.

The Otters kicked off facing up field, and within three minutes were awarded a penalty for a high tackle which full back Ianto Griffiths kicked safely for a three point lead.

The visitors restarted the game and the Otters looked determined in their attacks but faltered through errors. From one of their attacking efforts Maesteg Quins were awarded a penalty which fly half Tadgh McGuckin safely kicked to bring the score level at 3-3.

Their scrum half during one of their forays actually crossed over the try line but dropped the ball as he attempted to touch down. The referee awarded a five-metre scrum which the Otters eight safely heeled for number eight Richie Rees to break clear up field before being laid low in a tackle at a ruck. After treatment he was able to continue.

A further scrum was set outside the five metre line and Maesteg Quins were able to slip the ball to left wing Alex Griffiths who evaded several tackles to touch down for an unconverted try which gave the visitors a 3-8 lead.

At a lineout a yellow card was issued to a Quins player at 26 minutes. Rogers placed the ball into touch again and the Otters pack gained clean ball and formed a rolling maul. They released the ball quickly to Rogers who kicked towards the corner. Wing Yannick Parker gathered the ball and quickly crossed the line to touch down. The referee indicated an opponent’s hand had foiled the touch down and then issued a yellow card which it is assumed was for taking down the rolling maul.

Taking advantage of the resulting penalty Rogers kicked towards the corner. Roy Osborne caught the throw cleanly and another rolling maul formed.

This was stopped by Maesteg Quins by taking down one of the Otters along with their player causing the maul to collapse. The visitors gained the ball and put in a relieving kick to touch. From the lineout, the Otters advanced and at the breakdown Maesteg Quins were penalised for interfering.

Griffiths came forward and placed his 30 meter kick between the posts bringing the score on 34 minutes to 6-8.

From the kick off the Otters advanced back into the opponents half with a series of pick and drives until the Maesteg Quins again were penalised for aggressive incidents.

The referee had a long talk with their captain before awarding the penalty which Griffiths safely placed through the middle of the posts putting the Otters back in the lead at 9-8.

From the restart the Otters gathered the ball then fed Rogers who again produced a long, high kick which was fumbled by the receiver and followed by obstruction by Maesteg Quins.

This time the penalty kick hit the post, Maesteg collected the ball and placed it in touch for the referee to blow for half time.

Clearly at half time, the Otters were given some home truths by the coaches for on return to the game they scored a converted try within four minutes.

The try was well executed, on the opponents forty metre line, the ball reached Jack Price who put pressure on the Quins defence with his forceful running.

Outside him was flanker Tom Powell who quickly sped forward before releasing winger Gethin Gibby who, when challenged, passed inside to the supporting Tom Powell and in turn when challenged fed Gibby who sped like a stag down the far touch line to cross over for a great try. Griffiths made sure with his conversion giving the Otters a 16-8 lead.

Maesteg came back strongly but the game remained tight with both defences holding firm. A potential Otters try was lost when from a scrum Rhys Lane fed Rogers who found Price with his long passing and for Price to spot a gap and made a break down field only to spoil his initiative with a forward pass.

Maesteg attempted to break out of their half only for Gibby, attempting to intercept the pass, to knock on. The referee decided it was worth a yellow card.

In the following ten minutes, in one of the Otters movements, Rhys Lane made a fine break before passing to the supporting Richie Rees who was tackled and for the opposition to be penalised.

Rogers placed the ball onto the twenty two. The Otters in numbers followed through but lost the ball in a strong tackle. This time the Otters were penalised.

With the ball ending in touch, at the lineout the opposition set up a series of pick and charge phases with the ball eventually reaching wing Alex Griffiths who crossed the try line, only for the referee to bring him back having received a forward pass. The Otters srummaged on the five metres line and were able to gain relief to their twenty two.

The Otters proceeded further down field but Maesteg regained the ball and set up a move when the referee awarded them a penalty with the Otters going offside. Fly half Tadgh McGuckin kicked from 40 metres to add three points.

The game ended shortly afterwards with Rogers in his twenty two putting the ball out of play in the knowledge that full time had been reached.

Whilst the Otters have played their final home game they will travel in three weeks time on Saturday, April 27, to Maesteg to play the Quins again in their final game of the season.

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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