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Sheer sporting class celebrated

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sporting classHUNDREDS of people turned up to celebrate this years Sport Pembrokeshire Awards last Friday.

Outstanding sporting achievements from across the county were recognised at the prestigious annual event at Folly Farm.

Hosted by Sport Pembrokeshire- Pembrokeshire County Councilís sports development service – this year’s awards attracted more nominations that ever before across a wide range of sports and proved to be a very emotional evening.

Among those recognised was former rugby player Peter Morgan, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Last years Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, Peter Morgan attended school in Haverfordwest and played schools, county and international youth rugby before an outstanding career at Llanelli – clocking up 274 appearances and a total of 425 points over a decade. At 19 he replaced JPR Williams as full back in the Welsh side and also played for the Barbarians.

He remains Pembrokeshire’s only British Lion touring South Africa in 1980 as the youngest of the squad. This year for the first time there were two winners of the Chairmanís Special Achievement Award. Lisa Starkey, who works at Fishguard Leisure Centre, was honoured for her calm-headedness under pressure.Earlier this year she put her first aid expertise into action when she saved the life of young footballer Nicky Badland, who collapsed with a heart attack on the pitch at Fishguard during a training session.

Without her quick thinking and intervention it is almost certain he would not have survived.

Also honoured with a Chairmanís Special Achievement Award were Tenby rugby player and Iron Man competitor Nicky Rees and his friend Gareth Scotcher, who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease.

As a team the pair showed the very best of sporting camaraderie by taking on the challenge of the Tenby Long Course weekend with Gareth completing the 2.4 mile swim in a special tow cradle and the 112 mile bike ride on a special tandem bike before finishing with a 26.2 mile run! Councillor Elwyn Morse, Cabinet member for Sport and Leisure said the awards recognised not just the hard work and effort that went into sport in Pembrokeshire but also the pluck and sporting heroism that often went with it.

We have a very high standard of award winners this year, who epitomize the very best of sporting endeavour, he said.

The rise in nominations every year and the increasing number of sports represented reflect the depth and range of sport played in our county.

Ben Field, Manger of Sport Pembrokeshire said the success of the awards scheme was due to the hundreds of coaches, parents and volunteers that kept community sports clubs going week in, week out throughout the year.

It’s community sport at its best and its down to them that grass roots sport in Pembrokeshire is alive and kicking! He said.

The Pembrokeshire Sports Awards is sponsored by Valero, Folly Farm, Radio Pembrokeshire and various local businesses.

This years winners and finalists in each category were:

Coach of the Year:
Winner: Amy Yelland
Finalists: Pete Freeman, Andy Edmundson and Nathan Probert
_______________________
Female Sporting Achievement:
Winner: Amy James
Finalists: Becky Harries and Ella Richardson
_______________________
Male Sporting Achievement:
Winner: Andrew Salter
Finalists: Pat Currie and James Coney
_______________________
Boys Under 16 Achievement:
Winner: Liam Cullen
Finalists: Kieran Griffiths and Matthew Williams
_______________________
Girls Under 16 Sporting
Achievement:
Winner: Gabrielle Ridge
Finalists: Bethan Morris and Kelsey Williams
_______________________
Disability Sport Award:
Winner: Emma Martin
Finalists: Laurence Brown and Victoria Walters
_______________________
Junior Under 16 Disability
Sports Award:
Winner: Morgan Bugler
Finalists: Harry Thomas and Jemma Bowie-Hallam
_______________________
Unsung Hero Award:
Winner: Micky Phillips
Finalists: Nigel Roberts and John Williams
_______________________
Club Organiser Award:
Winner: Ron Hovell
Finalists: Dave Howarth and Clodagh Llewellin
_______________________
Team Achievement:
Winner: Neyland Cricket Club 1st Team
Finalists: Johnston AFC 1st
Team and Fishguard and Goodwick RFC 1st XV
_______________________
Junior Under 16 Team
Achievement:
Winner: Pembrokeshire U15 County Cricket Team
Finalists: Haverfordwest County Football Academy U12s and Camrose U13s Football Team
_______________________
Contribution to School Sport:
Winner: Ben Sutton, Stephanie Harris and Rhian Perry.
Finalists: Hayden Gove and Molly Lewis and Rachel Thomas

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Pembroke County Cricket Club Junior Leagues: Semi-finals confirmed

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THE EXCITEMENT in the Pembroke County Cricket Club Junior Leagues is palpable as the semi-finals for the Under 11’s category have been confirmed after a whirlwind of last-minute matches. The semi-finals will take place on 22nd July, with the eagerly anticipated final set for 7th August at Hook.

In a thrilling draw, the fixtures are as follows: Cresselly Under 11’s (Doves) will face off against Cresselly Under 10’s (Maroons), while St Ishmaels will go head-to-head with Lawrenny. The first-named teams will enjoy home advantage in these crucial matches.

Under 11’s Division:

The recent matches have been a showcase of young talent and competitive spirit. Laugharne faced Lawrenny in a gripping encounter, with Laugharne posting 224 runs before being all out. Lawrenny responded with a strong performance, reaching 227 for 4, thanks to standout contributions from Koby Lewis and Abby Stanley. Lewis scored 13 runs and took 1 wicket for 4 runs, while Stanley added 7 runs and claimed 2 wickets for 10 runs.

Another high-scoring game saw Whitland take on Lamphey. Despite Whitland’s 223 runs, Lamphey emerged victorious with a total of 283 for 7. Lamphey’s A Bendall shone brightly, scoring 25 runs and taking 5 wickets for just 2 runs, supported by strong performances from G Morris and L Midgley.

Hook continued their impressive form with a win over Cresselly Development, scoring 277 for 4 against their opponents’ 256 for 8. Dougie Goronwy and Tom Evans each scored 8 runs, while Oliver Brock contributed significantly with 2 wickets for 5 runs.

In a match against St Ishmaels, Hook fell short despite a valiant effort, scoring 232 for 12 in response to St Ishmaels’ 265 for 7. Maddox Bradshaw’s 12 runs and 4 wickets for 1 run were crucial for St Ishmaels, alongside solid performances from George Devonald and Seb Vickers.

The final Under 11’s match saw a dominant Cresselly side amass 424 runs for 3 wickets against Pembroke’s 151 for 15, cementing their position as a formidable force in the league.

Under 13’s Division:

Llechryd proved too strong for Whitland, with a decisive victory. Llechryd posted 183 for 5 and then bowled out Whitland for a mere 55. A James and F Cartwright were the stars for Llechryd, both contributing significantly with bat and ball.

In another clash, Llanrhian took on Haverfordwest, but despite a solid effort from Llanrhian, they were unable to surpass Haverfordwest’s total of 130 for 6. B Baker’s 25 runs were pivotal for Haverfordwest, while J Phillips gave a commendable all-round performance for Llanrhian.

St Ishmaels triumphed over Neyland in a closely contested match. Luca Orton’s 28 runs and Seb Vickers’ 2 wickets for 20 runs led St Ishmaels to a victory, narrowly defending their total of 100 for 5 against Neyland’s 94 for 4.

Under 15’s Division:

Kilgetty Under 14’s showcased their skills with a comprehensive win over Haverfordwest Under 14’s. Jack Cole’s 35 runs and Taylor Lewis’s 3 wickets for 10 runs were instrumental in Kilgetty’s total of 122 for 6, which proved too much for Haverfordwest, who managed only 60 for 9 in response.

However, in a match against Kilgetty, St Ishmaels’ game was abandoned in the 18th over with the result yet to be confirmed. Prior to the abandonment, M Britton and C Welch had led St Ishmaels to 124 for 3, while L Hall and E Gottwaltz made notable contributions for Kilgetty.

The cut-off dates for the Under 13’s and Under 15’s leagues are 26th July and 31st July, respectively. For more details and league standings, enthusiasts can visit the Pembroke County Cricket Club’s play-cricket website.

As the junior cricket season progresses, anticipation builds for the upcoming matches and the final showdown at Hook. Stay tuned for more updates and results.

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Wales rugby star at centre of controversy over damaged home incident

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A WOMAN whose home was damaged by a group of men, including Wales rugby player Cory Hill, has revealed the “devastating” impact the incident had on her family. Speaking to BBC Wales, “Sara” (not her real name) expressed her shock and disgust when head coach Warren Gatland recently named Hill as Wales captain.

Sara described the harrowing experience of the incident in May 2021, when a group of men, including Hill, mistakenly damaged her home. She recounted hearing a “thunderous banging sound” at her front door, which left her daughter terrified and asking, “Mammy, are people trying to get us?” Sara feared for their lives, believing someone was trying to break in with a sledgehammer.

The incident was resolved through a “community resolution” by South Wales Police, and Hill’s representative later apologised, stating the group had gone to the wrong property. However, the trauma from that night continues to affect Sara and her family, with her eldest daughter still receiving therapy.

In May 2023, Sara met Gatland and Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) director Nigel Walker at the Senedd to share her story. She described Gatland’s reaction as one of shock and sympathy, and she left the meeting with the impression that Hill would not return to the national squad. However, Hill was later included in the Wales squad for the Australian tour and was even named captain for a match against the Queensland Reds.

The decision to appoint Hill as captain sparked outrage, leading Gatland to apologise and Hill to withdraw from the match for “personal reasons”. Gatland admitted he made a mistake, stating, “I probably didn’t appreciate there was going to be some negativity about making that call.”

Sara felt betrayed by the decision, saying it “sullied” the captaincy role and left her “beyond disappointed”. She questioned why the WRU had not contacted her before naming Hill as captain, forcing her to relive her trauma.

Member of the Senedd Heledd Fychan, who arranged the meeting between Sara, Gatland, and Walker, criticised the WRU for its lack of communication. She expressed hope that the WRU would reflect on the situation and make better decisions in the future.

Nigel Walker acknowledged the deep trauma Sara had suffered and admitted that the WRU had made a mistake in naming Hill as captain. He apologised for the added trauma caused by the decision and assured that the WRU is striving to improve its decision-making processes.

Walker also offered support to Sara, including mediation, and expressed regret if she was left with the impression that Hill would not be considered for future selection. He emphasised the WRU’s commitment to learning from this incident to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Hill, who has since withdrawn from the team, expressed his regret over the incident, acknowledging that he made a mistake and apologising for his actions. Despite the controversy, he remains hopeful for the future and is focused on rebuilding his career.

The WRU’s handling of this incident highlights the need for greater sensitivity and awareness in addressing the personal impacts of players’ actions off the field. The organisation has vowed to learn from this experience and ensure that such mistakes are not repeated.

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Rugby Sevens experts make predictions for Paris 2024 Olympics

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THE Paris 2024 Olympics starts in just a matter of days, with the Rugby Sevens kicking off proceedings on July 24th, just before the official opening ceremony on the 26th. Sell-out crowds are already expected for the men’s and women’s events and there’s already a great deal of anticipation around which nations will end up in the medal tables.

Plenty of eyes are said to be on the likes of Australia and New Zealand in the battle for gold in both the men’s and women’s games. However, the men’s Fiji side will be looking to make it three golds in a row, following their iconic successes in Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021. Additionally, the Argentinian men’s team are being touted as dark horses and some believe the French sides could also capitalise on a home advantage.

This is according to the predictions for this year’s Olympic Sevens from a number of experts involved in the sevens game – including current and former players and coaches – in an exclusive feature with rugby website, RugbyPass. Alongside this, several of those interviewed here have touted a selection of players they believe will be standout performers across the tournaments.

Gareth Baber and Mike Friday

Gareth Baber, the coach who famously guided the Fiji men’s side to their second gold medal in Tokyo 2020, and the current USA Men’s Sevens team coach, Mike Friday, have both predicted that the respective sides where they have strong allegiances are the ones who are in with a chance of gold.

Gareth said: “I know people will be worried about Fiji, given their track record. There’s work to be done there, but they certainly can medal. The country is steeped in sevens rugby and they’ve consistently produced some players who can really do something.”

Mike stated: “I think we’re [USA] going to be a bolt out of the blue – we have the capability to cause absolute havoc.”

Both went on to champion the antipodean and French sides too:

Gareth said: “New Zealand will be positioning themselves as real medal contenders too. I’d also back France to do well, but their major challenge is constructing a frame to help their players do their best stuff in front of the home crowd.”

Mike explained: “France in both the men’s and the women’s are contenders. But looking just at the women’s, it’s going to be the likes of Australia and New Zealand that are pushing for gold.”

Mike then singled out several players to watch from the men’s and women’s events: “You’ve got the Levi sisters who are fantastic, Jorja Miller is a real catalyst too for New Zealand, but they’ve also got Michaela Blyde and Portia Woodman – a core of excellent players. On the men’s side, Marcos Moneta for Argentina, Dupont – just because it’s him – Terry Kennedy from Ireland is just a proper baller and will make things happen.”

Katy Daley-McLean MBE and Rachael Burford

Former England and Team GB Women’s Sevens stars, Katy Daley-McLean and Rachael Burford gave these medal predictions for the women’s events:

Katy said: “Australia and New Zealand are big favourites, but with their style of rugby, I think Canada and France will be in the mix there as well.” Rachael commented: “France – although under a lot of pressure – are at their best when they’re at home…Australia and New Zealand are coming into the Olympics very strong and a lot of people are expecting them to battle it out for the gold, but it’ll depend on who stays fit for them.”

Amongst their player recommendations, they also advised to watch out for Ellie Kildunne and Megan Jones of Team GB::

Katy explained: “I reckon if she [Ellie] smashes it in the Olympics and the next Rugby World Cup, she has the potential to become a household name.” While Rachael believes: “Meg will be massive for GB, her presence will transform that team. She alone will increase the ability of the whole squad.”

Tom Mitchell and Luke Treharne

Tom Mitchell, former England and Team GB Sevens captain, and Luke Treharne, former Team GB Sevens player and current Hong Kong 7s skills coach, offered these views:

Tom stated: “Looking at Argentina, Marcos Moneta who has come back from injury to make the squad is an absolute gun when fully firing…it’s also hard to look beyond Australia and New Zealand.”

Luke said: “For the women, I’ve been toying between the two juggernauts of Australia and New Zealand, but I think New Zealand will get the gold. France will get the bronze. As for the men, I think it’s going to go something like Argentina for gold, Fiji silver and Ireland bronze.”

Naya Tapper and Jodie Ounsley

RugbyPass also got the views of former England and Team GB Women’s Sevens wing, Jodie Ounsley, as well as current USA Women’s Sevens captain, Naya Tapper.

Jodie understandably chose her former teammates to go all the way: “I have to back the GB women’s side, but Australia and New Zealand are so strong and are definitely teams to look out for.” Naya – who will be competing this summer – also demonstrated some national pride by backing her country for Olympics success: “For the women’s and men’s side I manifest USA taking the gold. Let’s hope we can come back to this conversation and praise how great I am at predictions.”

Jodie was another expert to express admiration for Team GB’s Ellie Kildunne: “She’s coming back to sevens and she’s going to bring so many fans with her and I know she will make a great impact and be a storm at the Olympics. She will get people talking for sure.” Naya went on to highlight plenty of names for the women’s events: “Ilona Maher, Maddi Levi, Teagan Levi, Michaela Blyde, Portia Woodman, Anne-Cécile Ciofani, Séraphine Okemba – with how much talent we have in the game across all teams I could go on and on.”The schedule for the men’s sevens runs from July 24 – 27th – with a break in the middle for the opening ceremony – and the women’s event begins on July 28th and concludes on July 30th. If these predictions are to be believed, fans and neutrals alike could be set to see a hotly contested series. For further details, you can find the full selection of predictions and ‘ones to watch’ from these experts here: https://www.rugbypass.com/sevens/olympics/mens-and-womens-expert-predictions/

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