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Jenny rides the refereeing wave

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A CHANCE meeting with a former adversary was just the push Jenny Davies required to decide that becoming a referee was the next step in her rugby journey.

As the curtain came down on a playing career which saw her claim 74 Welsh caps in the front row, Davies had a conversation with trail-blazing Joy Neville after a game against Ireland.

Neville had a lengthy playing career spanning 10 years with Ireland before taking up the whistle in 2013. Since then she has been the flagbearer for women’s refereeing, officiating in Europe and in a World Cup, collecting World Rugby’s Referee of the Year award in 2017 along the way.

While Neville’s career continues to flourish, Davies’ is still in the embryonic phase having refereed for just two years.

“After retiring from playing, I tried coaching and found that I still thought I was a player and still ate like one, without doing the training,” says Davies.

“I also felt coaching didn’t give me the buzz playing did. So, I decided that I would have a go at taking up the whistle.

“After speaking to Paul Adams [WRU National Referee Performance manager], he persuaded me to give it a go. And after seeing Joy do so well and heeding her advice, I thought: why not?

“I think it is important former players become referees because they have an idea about what players and coaches are trying to achieve. They are more empathetic and will attempt to get the games to flow by playing advantage,” adds Davies.

Going from poacher to gamekeeper has had its challenges for Davies but her tenacity as a player has transferred to her refereeing skills, and she is enjoying officiating.

“It was a natural move [going from playing to refereeing]. I knew what the players want to achieve; however, sometimes my positioning was wrong because I still positioned myself as a player. Sometimes, I got in the way.

“So you just have to try and develop new skills to make it more fluid and that you are not in the way of the players.”

Since she took up the whistle two years ago, Davies’ progress has impressed Paul Adams.

Adams also emphasises the women’s programme collectively is heading in the right direction.

“Over the last 18 months there has been a very encouraging increase in the number of women refereeing the senior game regularly,” he explains.

“The numbers have increased from three 18 months ago to nine at present, with a further three referees refereeing age-grade rugby.
“We currently have four women refereeing in the National League and two more set to make their debuts this season.

“Last year, Francesca Martin was appointed to AR (assistant referee) in the Women’s Six Nations, our first appointment by World Rugby in this tournament.

“As a result of the increase in numbers, a new Women’s Development squad was established this year. They have already benefited from technical sessions and – once normality returns – they will meet regularly for psychological and physical fitness training.

“Sean Brickell (Community Match Officials Development Lead) is leading on this. He has already established an excellent work ethic which should be a great benefit to the girls next season. This year, for the first time, all three Women’s finals were scheduled to be officiated by all-women teams of three.

“Another first this year was the delivery of all women referee courses, which proved very popular.”

Jenny Davies is grateful for the assistance she receives from the WRU as she continues to move up the ladder.

“The WRU have been extremely supportive. Paul Adams and Sean Brickell have been really good. If I’ve had an email, they’ll respond to it. They’ve been really helpful. The support mechanism up in North Wales has been phenomenal. Richard Morgan, who is my main assessor, is very supportive and gives me feedback. If I have got a problem after a game, I’ll ring him and he’ll always give me advice.

“Even the other referees, when we have society meetings, if I have got a problem I can chat with them and they’ll give me their take on it. They’ll say, ‘what you did was right’ or ‘next time, why don’t you try this?’

“So they’re constantly giving me ideas that you can try on the pitch to make me better.”

Davies has no hesitation offering encouragement to anyone thinking about picking up the whistle.

“Give it a go. Go on a course. Get in the middle,” she says.

“Have a few games – you’ll know once you are on the pitch and have come off it whether you have enjoyed it or not. I don’t think it’s something you decide on after just one game: you need to give it a few games. It’s just like playing, in that regard.”

Despite her refereeing career going on an upward trajectory, Davies is keeping her feet firmly on the ground at the moment.
“I haven’t really set myself a goal at the moment, I’m just riding the wave to see where it takes me,” she says.

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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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