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Mark Taylor steps down

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Stepping down: Mark Taylor with the U20 squad after their win over Scotland

Stepping down: Mark Taylor with the U20 squad after their win over Scotland

FORMER Wales Captain , Mark Taylor , has stepped down as Wales U20 Team Manager to spend more time with his family . The team’s 42-19 victory over Scotland marked his final match in the role.

The former Centre who won 52 Wales caps, scored the historic first try at the Millennium Stadium and successfully captained Wales on four occasions, has been a Wales international pathway team manager since hanging up his playing boots in 2008, first with Wales U18, and for the last six years with Wales U20.

Taylor, who also toured with the Lions in 2001, has decided to spend more time with his family and other work commitments, but admits he will certainly stay involved in rugby in some capacity.

“It’s been a massive experience for me over the past eight years . It’s been a pleasure for me to be part of the development of young players, especially when you see them go onto play for the senior Wales side.

“There have been a lot of highs and some lows in that time, which from a results point of view come down to a few heavy defeats to New Zealand, in 2011 and earlier this week.

“One of the biggest achievements was reaching the Junior World Championship final in 2013, when we probably should have beaten England in the final. Hallam Amos, Sam Davies, Steff Hughes and Jordan Williams were key to that campaign, especially in beating South Africa in the semi-final. It was the culmination of two year period under Danny Wilson as coach and the players learned a huge amount from the experience.

“One of the highlights of my career, including my playing days, was being involved with the first side to beat New Zealand U20 in 2012. Our team had gone from losing to New Zealand by 92 points the year before, with the likes of Liam Williams and Kirby Myhill in the side, to come back 12 months later and turn them over. The likes of Tom Prydie, Samson Lee and Rob Evans were in that side, the match was played in some of the worst conditions imaginable and that victory was right up there in terms of special moments.

“Despite a few results going against us during this tournament in Manchester, the current crop of Wales U20 players also created something special in winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.

“The way they came back to win in Ireland got them off to a great start, and the desire they showed to stay in the Scotland and France games showed what they are made of. The highlight of the campaign though was the big victory over England, producing excellent rugby for 80 minutes.”

The team manager role started quite small with Wales U18 , but a number of players who have gone on to become household names were in Taylor’s sights from the start.

Tom Prydie, George North, Eli Walker, Aled Davies, Matthew Morgan and Rhodri Jones were in the first Wales U18 squad Taylor was involved with in 2009, with Samson Lee, Rob Evans and Ellis Jenkins joining the party a year later.

“I was asked if I wanted to take on the role and I saw it as a good way to stay in touch with the game. I was involved with talent identification and also some of the backs coaching under Darren Edwards, who was with London Welsh at the time.

“Tom [ Prydie ] was outstanding for us in a Five Nations tournament in Italy and went on to become capped by Wales in the Six Nations the following year , before playing for us again later that season in the next Five Nations tournament. George North was the star of that tournament in Llandovery and was capped by Wales later that year.

“The day -to -day role involves a lot of organisation and coordination between the team, the rest of the Welsh Rugby Union rugby department, the other National Squads, the Regions and clubs, along with other Unions and tournament organisers. Basically everything that enables the coaches and players to get on with their job of preparing for matches. I will miss it but I owe my family some quality time after going straight into team management after ending my playing career. I will no doubt be drawn back to rugby as I still feel I owe the game a lot after everything it’s given me, but it will be more of a home -based role for the time being. I’d like to thank all the coaches and support staff I’ve worked with in my time with the 18s and 20s.”

WRU Head of Rugby Performance , Geraint John , paid tribute to Mark Taylor’s contribution to the Welsh Rugby Union over the last eight years.

He said: “It has been a pleasure working with Mark since my return to Wales and he will be a great loss. He is an excellent Team Manager, well respected by all players and staff and is well loved in the office with his professionalism, passion and humour. We totally understand the reasons why Mark is stepping down as family is very important.

“Even though he is leaving his current role I am hoping that in the future we will see Mark involved with our teams in some capacity. He is an excellent person with great values and we wish him the best but we will certainly be staying in touch.”

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Bluebirds return to winning ways as Veale’s free kick sinks Archers

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HAVERFORDWEST County got back to winning ways on Tuesday night (Sept 27) as they beat Cardiff Met 1-0 at the Ogi Bridge Meadow.

Jamie Veale’s second half free kick proved enough for Tony Pennock’s side who now sit seventh in the JD Cymru Premier table.

In the third minute, Dylan Rees sent a ball forward to Jack Wilson but his cross was pushed away by Met keeper Alex Lang.

A miss-timed header then sent Jordan Davies in but his effort was blocked.

The Bluebirds continued to search for the opener and on 27 minutes, a pass from Elliot Scotcher sent Wilson in but he saw his shot saved. The rebound fell to Jordan Davies but his shot was blocked.

Towards the end of the half, Met pushed forward and Matt Chubb went on a good run down the right but he saw his shot go wide.

Harry Owen also tried his luck but saw his shot saved by County keeper Zac Jones and the sides went in at the break with the score locked at 0-0.

There was an even start to the second half as both sides looked to dominate. A cross into the Met box was headed clear by Emlyn Lewis while Craig Davies sent a cross in at the other end but no one could get on the end of it.

On 72 minutes Jordan Davies reacted quickly to head the ball goalwards but he saw his effort go over the bar.

Four minutes later though the Bluebirds were awarded a free kick wide on the left. Veale took it and the ball floated all the way in to give the home side the lead.

Wilson then saw a shot go wide as the Bluebirds looked to make the points safe.

The Met pushed late on as Eliot Evans saw a shot deflected wide while Sam Jones shot over the bar in time added on.

The Bluebirds held on for a welcome win, with Rhys Abbruzzese being named player of the match.

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Whitland earn win at Pembroke

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WHITLAND earned their first win of the season on Saturday (Sept 24) as they beat Pembroke 20-33.

Pembroke landed an early penalty through Harry Fletcher but the visitors hit back with two converted tries.

There was another penalty for Fletcher to make it 14-6.

Whitland thought they had another try when Callum Evans touched down but it was harshly ruled out as the referee had spotted some crossing moments before.

The visitors then scored another try which was also converted as they took a 6-21 lead in at the break.

Pembroke hit back in the second half with tries from Lloyd Davies and Sam Smith who finished off after a barnstorming run. Fletcher added both conversions.

Whitland pulled away though with further tries to seal the win.

Liam Price scored a hat trick of tries for Whitland and others came from Ianto Davies and Geraint Jones. Jones added the rest of the points from the boot.

On Saturday, October 1, Pembroke travel to Llanelli Wanderers while Whitland host Llangennech.

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Kilgetty edge Clarby in seven-goal thriller

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KILGETTY made it two wins from two on Saturday (Sept 24) as they beat Clarbeston Road 4-3.

Ben John put Clarby ahead after eight minutes but their lead only lasted for two minutes.

Adam Johns levelled for Kilgetty and ten minutes later Josh Bevan put his side ahead.

Richard Cope then made it 3-1 to the visitors shortly after the half-hour mark.

Clarby were not out of the game though and on the stroke of half time John scored his and Clarby’s second to make it 2-3.

It remained that way until the 89th minute when Rheinallt George put the goal in his own net to all but seal the points for Kilgetty.

There was still time for more goals as Richard Bevan scored in the 92nd minute to make it 4-3.

They were unable to find a late equaliser though as Kilgetty held on for the win.

On Saturday, October 1, Kilgetty face Angle in the first round of the Senior Cup. Clarbeston Road are also in action in the Senior Cup as they host Carew, both matches kicking off at 1:45pm.

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