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Martyn Phillips: WRU will give players a leg-up after they retire

Martyn Phillips: WRU will give players a leg-up after they retire

ALREADY wealthy former professional rugby players will be given a step into high-profile positions at big businesses within Wales and the WRU itself thanks to the launch of the WRU’s new Professional Player Development Programme.

The initiative will provide a pipeline of talented leaders into Welsh industry as well as helping to increase retention of players within Wales during their playing careers.

The programme consists of five elements including mentoring – provided by senior leaders from business and sport – psychometric testing to help determine future job compatibility and performance, support to obtain academic qualifications, work placements, and financial management and advice.

Welsh national age grade sides, women and all regional professional players will be covered by the scheme in future and, resource permitting, the WRU is also currently looking to support recently retired Welsh players where possible.

“We have been clear about our desire to retain talented players in Wales and this programme is part of our commitment to that goal,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

“A rugby player’s career is relatively short compared to that of somebody in more traditional employment and we feel we have a duty of care to ensure a successful playing career is followed by a successful career post retirement from the game.”

The WRU has agreements in place with the majority of Welsh universities, as well as other further education establishments, to provide access to education and training on a part time basis as part of the programme and the scheme will eventually extend down to regional players, women and into the academies.

Many senior leaders from the worlds of business and sport have already signed up to the mentoring part of the programme, with the Union appealing globally for further interested parties with Welsh connections to get in touch and join the scheme.

“We went right to the top and asked the Universities if we could send players their way, asked that they be flexible about the players’ time when they are still playing, and for them to help facilitate the whole process – we were warmly received,” said Phillips.

“There are up to 300 careers available, everything from the traditional trades like bricklaying and plumbing to those that require academic qualifications like accountancy, law and medicine and we are appealing for new mentors to come forward.

“We see our players demonstrate courage, integrity, dedication and team work week-in-week out on the pitch.

“These are characteristics which are valuable in any modern business environment and I am confident that any player who embarks on the programme will be a huge asset to any organisation.

“With the level of drive the players show, their leadership and resilience as international sportsmen, they are very likely to be successful in their careers.

“We want to enable lifelong success as opposed to just playing success. We are trying to offer the players a 40- year career, 15 of which will be playing rugby and the other 25 doing something else.”

The Welsh senior international squad were told of the plans – warmly welcomed by Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton, the coach and captain – at a recent meeting.

Phillips has also spoken to many ex-Welsh Internationals who have helped reinforce the need for such an initiative.

And the WRU has set up a new department and solid structures to lead players into new careers of all sorts when their active playing careers end.

“Rugby should not mean that you have a decent career then we throw you to the wolves,” he added.

“We are trying to take away the pressure on players and their families when they are trying to earn it all when still playing.

“We are going to be working on the next thing in which they can be successful, the next thing that gives them a buzz.”

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Signed Wales shirts gifted to RNLI go up for auction



FOLLOWING a winning start to the Six Nations Tournament, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have scored a winning try for the RNLI, gifting six signed rugby shirts to help save lives at sea.

Each rugby shirt has been signed by the full WRU squad and are accompanied by a certificate of authentication – a winning prize for any Welsh rugby fan.

To avoid a ruck for the WRU shirts the charity has placed all six signed shirts on an online auction, ensuring a fair game for all who wish to win the golden prize. The auction will be live until Wednesday, March 31, which allows plenty of time for supporters to bid for the team in red.

Each signed shirt includes Wales Captain, Mumbles RNLI supporter and the most capped international player of all time Alun Wyn Jones; as well as Louis Rees-Zammit, the Man of the Match in the nail-biting Scotland v Wales game.

Nick Evans, RNLI Fundraising and Partnership Lead said: ‘On behalf of the charity I would like to say a big thank you to the Welsh Rugby Union for donating these fantastic prizes to the RNLI. RNLI volunteers are on call 24-7 and are often called away from important events such as family celebrations – or international rugby tournaments – to respond to the pager if someone is in trouble at sea.

‘Like all charities, 2020 was a challenging year for the RNLI when all traditional fundraising had to stop – all our shops were closed, there were no collections and all events had to be cancelled. This is why we at the RNLI are so grateful to all the team at WRU for their ongoing support. The auction is now live and we would like to encourage all Wales rugby supporters to throw the RNLI a lifeline and place their bid for the winning prize.’

To place a bid or find out more about the charity auction please visit

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Five subs to be allowed for JD Cymru Premier clubs



THE FAW’s National Leagues Board has confirmed that JD Cymru Premier clubs will be permitted to make five substitutions in matches, in accordance with the Laws of the Game, until the end of the 2020-21 top-flight season.

FIFA extended the use of the rule, which was first introduced following the COVID-19 outbreak, citing “player welfare” as part of the reason for the temporary amendment to Law 3 of the Laws of the Game.

FIFA stated that “Some competitions which resumed in 2020 may have a shorter-than-usual recovery/preparation period before the start of their next season.”

“For many competitions, the 2020/21 season will involve matches being played in a condensed period due to a delayed start and the inability to end later than usual because of major international tournaments.”

With the JD Cymru Premier set to restart on March 2, the National Leagues Board has approved the use of the rule in the JD Cymru Premier until the end of the current campaign.

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Haverfordwest County’s remaining phase 1 fixtures released



HAVERFORDWEST County will return to action on Saturday, March 6, with a home game against Cardiff Met University.

The JD Cymru Premier has been granted elite status by the National Sports Group once again and the FAW has announced the rescheduled fixtures.

The first fixture upon the return will see Newtown AFC host Penybont on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 live on Facebook via Sgorio’s platforms.

Bala Town travel to The New Saints on Sgorio on March 6, 2021 with a 5pm kick off.

This will be followed by a full host of fixtures on Saturday, March 6, 2021.

The new calendar sees clubs play their final six matches of Phase One, which is now due to be completed on April 4, 2021.

Haverfordwest County’s remaining fixtures for phase 1 are listed below.

March 6 – 14:30

Haverfordwest County FC v Cardiff Met University FC

March 9 – 19:45

Aberystwyth Town FC v Haverfordwest County FC

March 13 – 14:30

Haverfordwest County FC v The New Saints FC

March 20 – 14:30

Connah’s Quay Nomads FC v Haverfordwest County FC

March 27 – 14:30

Newtown AFC v Haverfordwest County FC

April 2 – 17:00

Penybont FC v Haverfordwest County FC

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