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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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Sutton steers Cresselly into second round

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CRESSELLY set up a Harrison Allen second round clash with Hundleton as they beat Haverfordwest on Wednesday night (May 12).

It was a clash between the 2019 winners (Haverfordwest) and the 2018 winners (Cresselly) with both harbouring hopes of again reaching the final.

Cresselly won the toss and elected to field which looked to be a good decision as they restricted Town to 124-7 from their 22 overs.

Tom Murphy and Mike Shaw each picked up two wickets while Ryan Lewis and Tom Arthur also took a wicket each.

In reply, Cresselly lost Ryan Lewis and Iwan Izzard for single figure scores but Dan Sutton and Alex Bayley got the visitors going again.

Bayley hit five fours in a knock of 42 while Sutton top scored for his team, hitting nine fours in a score of 64.

That saw Cresselly over the line in the final over as they booked their place in the next round of the Bowl.

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Dock too good for Laugharne in Harrison Allen

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PEMBROKE DOCK booked their place in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Wednesday (May 12) as they beat Laugharne by 134 runs.

The Dock won the toss and elected to bat and that looked to be a good decision with openers Jake Davies and Jake Griffiths sharing 102 runs for the first wicket.

That partnership was eventually broken by Tyler Reynolds who had Griffiths caught by Andrew Edwards. Griffiths had thumped eight fours and three sixes in his knock of 66 from 44 balls.

Davies hit five fours in a score of 46 but he was then bowled by Shaun Lynch.

Lynch also bowled Scott Griffiths but a knock of 34 from George Smith kept the scoreboard ticking over before Billy Wood’s late flurry (1 four and 1 six) saw the Dock to a score of 189-5.

The home side knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but the Dock had other ideas as Laugharne opener Andrew Edwards was ran out early on.

Billy Wood and Nick Daley bowled well as they sent the stumps flying to leave Laugharne on 20-4.

It was soon 23-5 as George Smith bowled Carl Smith.

There were further wickets for Smith and Jamie Wright as the Dock’s victory drew ever closer.

A score of 26 from Simon Davies wasn’t enough for Laugharne as they finished all out on 55.

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Llangwm seal dramatic Harrison Allen win

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LLANGWM booked their place in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl as they beat Llechryd in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night (May 12).

In a low scoring game, Llechryd reached 104-9 in their 22 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Llangwm were steady in their reply but they needed five runs off the final two balls. The first of those saw Llangwm take three and they were able to run two on the last to win the game.

Llechryd started well with John Curran hitting a four and a six in a score of 19 before he was bowled by Chris Inward.

Johnny Lewis reached a score of 13 but that proved to be unlucky as he was caught by Phil Llewellyn off the bowling of Joe Phillips.

Phillips also had the wickets of David Dunfee and Adam Betts while Inward bowled both Graham Keen and John Lumb as all four batsmen returned with ducks to their name.

Joe Mansfield spared Llechryd’s blushes as he hit four boundaries in a knock of 38 as they set Llangwm 105 to win the game.

Llangwm were in trouble early on in their reply as David Dunfee bowled Phil Llewellyn for a second ball duck and Joe Kiff on a score of 4 to leave them reeling on 10-2.

However, a third-wicket stand of 84 between Steven Mills and Noah Davies set Llangwm on their way to victory.

Llechryd hit back though as Andrew Fletcher denied Mills his half century as he was caught by Jonny Lewis on a score of 49.

Fletcher then trapped Luke Brock leg before wicket with the next ball to reduce Llangwm to 94-4.

Davies had made a good score of 30 but he was bowled by Graham Keen as the visitors were left needing five runs to win with time running out.

On the penultimate ball Chris Inward ran three and on the last, Matthew Kiff ran the two runs needed to win Llangwm the game in a thrilling finish.

The result also represented another mini shock as Division 1 side Llechryd exited the competition at the hands of their Division 2 opponents.

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