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Wales Sevens name squad for Dubai and Cape Town

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RICHIE Pugh has named his Wales Sevens squad that will travel to Dubai and Cape Town for his first season as head coach.

The former Sevens World Cup winner, who has stepped up from his assistant role since Gareth Williams took over as Wales U20 head coach, will hand World Rugby Sevens Series debuts to five players in Dubai next week – four of whom were recently part of the U20 programme.

Those four players join the programme from the regions, who view the sevens pathway as key to some of their young players’ development.

“Many will already know about Ryan Conbeer’s finishing exploits from a 15s perspective with Scarlets and Wales U20, and he’ll provide us with good firepower out wide. The Cardiff Blues pairing of Ben Jones and Dane Blacker in midfield are full of confidence and back themselves. Dragons’ Taine Basham up front has got a great skillset and footwork for a carrying back-rower.”

Scarlets’ Tomi Lewis has something of a head-start on his fellow young teammates, given the virtuoso display he put on in Dubai last season in scoring seven tries over the course of the weekend.

As part of their preparations for Dubai and Cape Town, the Wales squad partook in a training camp with European champions Ireland a week ago which saw them compete in live game situations (watch WRU TV’s snapshot of the day).

Eighteen-year-old Jay Jones was originally spotted playing at Rosslyn Park Sevens, and has progressed through the sevens development pathway – much to the delight of Pugh. “We’ve been fortunate to have someone like Jay in the squad, who’s not necessarily an academy player or linked with a region. He was part of the Great Britain U18 squad, has played Rugby Europe for us and is constantly putting his hand up, especially with his attacking performance against Ireland last week.”

Luke Treharne will captain his country, ably assisted by vice-captain Afon Bagshaw. Pugh says: “Luke has got a lot of experience and the players look up to him. He can lead the team well and knows what to expect on the big stage. He’s backed up by Afon, who’s been in the programme over a year now and leads from front. They both set the standards and along with the rest of our core players they’ve been supporting the new players really well.”

Pugh believes there’s a good balance in his squad for the first two legs of the series, with Dragons and Wales U20s’ Joe Goodchild waiting in the wings as a travelling reserve. “When you add in Ben Roach, Cai Devine, Owen Jenkins and Will Talbot-Davies, I’m hoping all their experience will spur the boys on come next Friday. It’ll be completely different to the cold climate we’ve been accustomed to lately, so we’ve got to get used to the heat of Dubai and Cape Town very quickly.”

Wales will have a training game against Scotland on Tuesday next week, and Pugh suggests that come their first pool game against world champions New Zealand, some of his players “will be thrown into the deep end of the World Series”, with USA and Spain also to come.

However, he adds: “We need to expose players to these experienced teams, put them under that level of pressure in a top-level environment. This is what sevens gives them an insight into, and it’s fantastic for their learning.”

Core Players: Afon Bagshaw (Vice-Captain), Cai Devine, Owen Jenkins, Jay Jones, Ben Roach, Luke Treharne (Captain). Cardiff Blues: Dane Blacker, Ben Jones. Dragons: Taine Basham, Joe Goodchild, Will Talbot-Davies. Scarlets: Ryan Conbeer, Tomi Lewis.

Sport

Signed Wales shirts gifted to RNLI go up for auction

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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 https://www.jumblebee.co.uk/rnliwru.

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Five subs to be allowed for JD Cymru Premier clubs

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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

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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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