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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

United Airlines unveils limited-edition Wrexham AFC amenity kits and pyjamas

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UNITED AIRLINES has introduced new, limited-edition Wrexham AFC amenity kits and pyjamas to commemorate the Welsh football team’s recent promotion to League One. The launch coincides with the rising global popularity of the Emmy award-winning series “Welcome to Wrexham”, which is currently streaming on Hulu.

Starting from 1st June, passengers flying in United’s premium cabins on long-haul international routes will receive these exclusive Wrexham AFC-inspired kits. These kits will include essential travel items such as an eye mask, toothbrush, and toothpaste, along with exclusive Therabody skincare products. Additionally, United Polaris® customers on flights of 14 hours or longer will be provided with pyjamas designed to resemble the team’s uniforms, featuring a long-sleeve Wrexham red shirt and grey pants.

Co-chairmen of Wrexham AFC, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, revealed these new onboard amenities in a recently released video. The kits and pyjamas, designed in collaboration with United Airlines, draw inspiration from Wrexham AFC’s crest, jerseys, and overall aesthetic.

Amenity Kit Details:

  • United x Wrexham AFC Amenity Case: For United Polaris business class travellers, this reusable toiletry case features the Wrexham crest and is available in red, black, or white. It includes a top handle, wrap-around zipper, and a loop for hanging.
  • United x Wrexham AFC Amenity Pouch: For United Premium Plus® travellers, this slim, zippered pouch also features the Wrexham crest and is available in the same colour options. It is designed to fit easily into a carry-on bag.
  • United x Wrexham AFC Pyjamas: Available to United Polaris business class passengers on flights of 14 hours or more, this lightweight pyjama set includes a red, long-sleeve shirt with the Wrexham AFC and United logos on the front and grey pants with the United logo on the hip.

Each amenity kit contains a United-exclusive Therabody hand cream, lip balm, cleansing towelette, bamboo toothbrush, toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, and socks. The Polaris kit also includes Therabody eye serum, face spray, tissues, and a United pen.

Peter Wolkowski, Director of Onboard Product Design at United, commented, “With our amenity kits, we always aim to provide customers with products that make their travel journey more comfortable as well as create one-of-a-kind keepsakes for them to enjoy well beyond their flight. Wrexham’s story is one that has been documented and celebrated these last few years, so we’re thrilled to now give United customers team-branded gear they won’t be able to find anywhere else.”

United Airlines, a prominent sponsor of Wrexham AFC, will continue to support the club throughout the 2024-2025 season. The airline is the front-of-jersey sponsor for both the men’s and women’s teams, and it will also sponsor the club’s North American summer tour, providing exclusive offerings to MileagePlus members.

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Former Wales rugby international Tonia Antoniazzi MP joins Scarlets Board

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THE Scarlets have said this week that they are delighted to announce that Gower MP and former Wales international Tonia Antoniazzi will join the Scarlets Board of Directors with immediate effect.

Tonia, who is Gower’s first female MP, has served at Westminster since June 2017. She was born and raised along with two brothers in Llanelli by her Welsh Mum and Welsh-Italian father who supported her love of sport from an early age.

With Welsh-Italian sporting heritage, she won nine caps for Wales as a prop playing internationally for three years as well as playing for Benetton Treviso’s women’s team in 1993-94 while studying in Venice. Her last cap as tighthead prop came in 1999. She participated in the first Women’s World Cup in 1998. From a rugby family, her brother Julian Antoniazzi played for Welsh Schools seven times in 1985.

Tonia is a passionate, lifelong Scarlets supporter after spending many years growing up supporting rugby on the terraces at Stradey Park. Alongside her international rugby career, Tonia is a graduate in French and Italian from Exeter University with a PGCE from Cardiff University, teaching in Wigan before returning home to West Wales as Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Ysgol Bryngwyn in Llanelli.

Since retiring from international rugby and forging a successful political career, she is now a leading light and voice championing the growth and development of women’s and girls’ rugby across Wales, campaigning for greater equality, engagement, participation and inclusion at all levels in the game.

Scarlets are building for the future which includes a fresh focus on the girls’ and women’s game, with four players in the U18s Women’s Six Nations squad, a number of girls from the region selected for the West Wales Professional Development Centre (PDC) plus 70 girls are registered with the Scarlets’ first U17s Development Squad.

Scarlets’ Academy coaches support training and development of Celtic Challenge Cup side Brython Thunder who are based at Parc y Scarlets. Two of the region’s age-grade teams Teifi Timberwolves and Taf Valley Tigers were U16s and U18s WRU National plate winners this season. Increased demand from girls to play rugby is now being supported with 32 WRU clusters supporting players from U7s to U18s across communities in Wales.

Scarlets’ Community Foundation rugby programme also continues to go from strength-to-strength delivering wide-ranging rugby inclusion events to support social benefit across its region and engaging with more than 20,000 young people this season.

Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “It truly is an honour and privilege for me and I am very excited to be joining the Scarlets Board. Scarlets rugby has been at the heart of my family and my upbringing and it was that love and passion for this club that led me to play for Wales. Now I am continuing to support the sport that means so much to me off the pitch.

“Rugby is ours. It’s everybody’s sport and everybody matters in our game.”

“We need a plurality of voices in Welsh rugby to take the game forward. There is a new era of rugby dawning in Wales and Scarlets rugby has a bright future within it, I want to be part of that and ensure everyone connected with our game has a voice and is well-represented.”

“I am passionate about bringing more women into the game. I feel very strongly that when I was a young girl, I had to look up to my brother – and think if he can do it I can do it. Now we can see a future in the sport for young girls to aspire to – with the likes of Alex Callender (from Llanelli), who I used to teach, coming through and winning multiple caps.

“What we need now is to engage more through the women’s and girls’ programmes into clubs to ensure we have more teams and more international players playing their rugby in Wales. When you can see it as a player, you believe you can be it. We need to show our young girls that there is a future for them in rugby in Wales.”

Scarlets Executive Chairman Simon Muderack said: “Tonia will bring valued rugby expertise, a strong voice for the women’s game and great governance leadership from her experience and knowledge across international rugby, the educational sector and her parliamentary career.

“Her energy, ambition and passion for Scarlets rugby and the women’s and girl’s game in this region is undeniable. She is a positive driving force who wants to see Scarlets and Welsh rugby thrive now and in the future and is helping spearhead a culture change throughout our game. We are delighted she is joining us at a time when we are restructuring and strengthening our business operations to meet the challenges of the future and we look forward to Tonia’s input and support.”

Tonia lives in Pontarddulais and has a son Jac who is currently studying at Cardiff University.

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Memorial football day honours George Davies

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Milford United held a memorial football day in honour of George Davies on Sunday (May 19), who passed away on 25 November 2020. He would have turned 84 on Monday.

George Davies and his family dedicated decades of service to Milford United, and their contributions have left an indelible mark on the club. Known for his tireless promotion of the club and town, George extended his efforts throughout Pembrokeshire and Wales, especially during Milford United’s tenure in the Welsh League. In recognition of his 45 years of service, George received a Citizens Award in 2022. He was renowned for his fundraising activities and for driving the Carnival Queen float most years, serving in many roles, including club president.

The event took place at a resplendent Marble Hall, which set the stage for a memorable day of football. The match was played in three 30-minute periods, allowing managers to give ample game time to their large squads. The respect for George and the Davies family was evident, with everyone eager to participate in the George Davies memorial game. This year, Claire and Rhian from the Ladies Robins joined the teams, which were Over 25s versus Under 25s. The age contrast saw Curtis Davies at 18 and ‘Parksy’ at 57 as the oldest Over 25. Youth and experience clashed as the Over 25s took an early lead, going 2-1 up. However, the Under 25s rallied to level the score at 4-4, and the match concluded with a penalty shootout, where the Over 25s triumphed 4-3.

The day was a great success, thanks to the contributions of many. MIlford United would like to thank Jonathan, Sam, and Liam Davies for managing the Over 25s, and to Simon Rutherford, Charlie Davies, and Andrew Burgoyne for managing the Under 25s. Notably, Charlie Davies played the entire 90 minutes.

Gratitude is also extended to David Farrow for his exceptional organisation of the event, and to Scott Griffiths, Mike Barrett, Billy Raymond, Joel Codd, Steve Parks, Terry Berryman, and Andrew Burgoyne for preparing the grounds. Additionally, thanks to Mark Coaker and Ian Smith for capturing brilliant photos of the day.

The event concluded at the Milford United Sportsman Club, where Bruce, Rachel, and their team kept everyone refreshed. A special mention goes to all those who helped with the raffle.

Entertainment was provided by The Messiaens, an outstanding 8-member band and the newest sensation in Pembrokeshire. The band, comprised of talented young musicians aged 16-19, kept everyone dancing and entertained well into the evening.

This memorial day will continue to be held on the closest Saturday to George’s birthday. Next year’s event is scheduled for 17 May.

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