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New format for Women’s Six Nations

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The Women’s Six Nations will take place in April in a new and condensed format, while the Under 20’s Six Nations will take place in June and July in the same format as planned but over a condensed, three week period, Six Nations Rugby Limited announced today.

The Women’s Six Nations will be similar to the Autumn Nations Cup in format, with two pools of three and a Grand Final weekend. Wales Women have been placed in Pool A with France and Ireland, travelling to France on the weekend of April 3 before hosting Ireland on the weekend of April 10. Every nation will play a play-off match on the weekend of April 24 against the opposing ranked team from the other Pool – 1 v 1, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3. The detailed fixture dates, venues and kick off times will be announced in due course. The World Rugby U20 Championship has been cancelled for 2021.

Wales Women head coach Warren Abrahams welcomed the announcement of fixtures. “We’re really grateful to the work everyone has done to get us to this position and have some competitive fixtures to look forward to. We’ve all overcome different challenges to get here and the uncertainty has been the toughest part so this news is pretty exciting. France and Ireland are great fixtures to work towards and will provide an opportunity to measure ourselves with the Rugby World Cup coming up in September. It’s very welcome news for women’s rugby in the northern hemisphere.”

Wales U20 head coach Gareth Williams added, “It’s great to learn the rearranged dates for our Six Nations campaign.

“The disruption over the last 12 months is well documented, therefore having these fixtures to look forward to as a development tool for us is exciting and critical. We are now able to adapt our key work with developing players in partnership with the regions, and the summer will give an invaluable period of competition to test that development.”

Ben Morel, CEO of Six Nations Rugby commented, “We are delighted to make this announcement today and confirm new plans for our Women’s and U20s championships. The promotion and development of rugby at all levels is a key strategic priority for Six Nations. We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight.”

“Our priority has always been to deliver two outstanding tournaments but equally ensuring both competitions can be played safely, taking every consideration for player welfare. A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window due to World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams. Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed that April would be the best window in which to stage the championship.

“The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career. We look forward to announcing fixture details for the U20’s in due course.”

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Nicky Hayen: European football is the goal for Haverfordwest County

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HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY return to action this weekend as they take on Newtown in the JD Cymru Premier.

Football in Wales had been suspended following the announcement of Welsh Government restrictions but they have now been relaxed and football can once again get underway.

The Bluebirds face a tough test against the side that sits in second place in the table but new manager Nicky Hayen will not be in charge for the game against Newtown as his work permit has not come through.

He will be watching on though as Gary ‘Waggy’ Richards takes temporary charge and Nicky told the Herald that he is fully confident that his assistants can get a good result.

When the sides last met in October the Bluebirds came out on top with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Alhagi Touray Sisay.

Speaking ahead of the game on Saturday Nicky told us about his plans for the team, his ambitions and how he wants to work closely with grassroots teams in Pembrokeshire and with the community.

Nicky may not be able to take charge just yet but he has already been observing training sessions and been gathering information on the other teams in the JD Cymru Premier.

Asked what attracted him to join Haverfordwest County, Nicky said: “First of all, the ambition of the chairman, this is the most important thing so he had a project for three years to reach European football. I like projects and when you’re digging into stuff from the club, you can see that is a good combination.

“I saw some games of the team and I saw two different teams, one team who play with confidence and played the football that I like, building out from the back and trying to find the football solutions on the ground, and I saw a team that didn’t have confidence that was clearing every ball and wasn’t winning contests so I saw that they have the skills to do what I have in my mind.

“So this combination, the ambition of the chairman, the team that is playing at this moment, I think we have to be capable of performing better than the position in the league at this moment.”

The ultimate aim for the club is to reach European football but Nicky isn’t thinking about that just yet.

“The ambition is to make it to the first six positions, it will be almost impossible for this season so we want to avoid relegation and then have a good pre-season and we’ll see what happens next season but finishing in the top six is a nice goal.

“To reach this you have to win your first game and then your second game, I just take one game at a time, starting with the game at Newtown, we’ll try to win and then I hope I can be on the bench for the Penybont game.

“The short term project is staying in the league, but the project is much bigger and it includes building bridges with the grassroots teams with the Pembrokeshire League, with the community so what we want to do is to create an environment over here that is more than football.

“The academy is something that is really important, we want to improve our players and everyone can see that we give chances to players to develop in the squad and this is what we are already doing now.

“The one thing I don’t want to do is change the club culture. We have to keep the culture but we have to add some value and create an identity that is clear for the next fifty years.”

Nicky is settling in well in Haverfordwest and is looking forward to seeing more of the area but says he is focussed on the football for now.

Haverfordwest’s game with Newtown takes place on Saturday, January 22, kick off at 2:30pm.

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Five-star Milford sink Pennar

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MILFORD UNITED moved up to seventh place in Division 2 on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Pennar Robins seconds 5-1 at Marble Hall.

The club had worked up until 1:00 pm to prepare the pitch for the encounter with Pennar Robins and their efforts were matched by the players who put in a very good performance to overcome a youthful and capable Pennar team.

Milford started sprightly, attacking down both flanks. But it was a break down the middle by Liam Parks, which first opened up a Pennar defence, which was well marshalled by Gideon Hockin.

Parks ran through on goal and when he was closed down by the Pennar keeper, he slipped it to the right for Liam Parr, whose shot from a difficult angle, hit the post.

The Pennar keeper was busy and pulled off a number of good saves. Milford looked destined to open the scoring when Ben Lewis squared a ball for Lewys Tee inside the box, only to see his shot canon off a Pennar defender making a last ditch block.

But it was Pennar who opened the scoring in the first half. A free kick was conceded by Milford on the half way line, who then failed to deal adequately with it. The ball fell kindly for Liam Williams, who executed a lob perfectly to score against the run of play.

Milford were still in the game though and they finished the first half putting more pressure on the Pennar back line, one attack resulting in a corner. Morgan Picton whipped in a far post cross, which was met sweetly by the on rushing Jacob Horn to level the game.

Pennar made a couple of tactical changes at half time and started the second half well. It was a good shot from Pennar, from which Ferdy Stevenson pulled of an equally good save, diving down low to his right.

Milford began to gain control of the game and created several good opportunities, which they couldn’t quite take. But a good interchange with Lewys Tee, opened up the defence for Ben Lewis, who managed to get his shot off and scored from just inside the box.

At 2-1 there was still a game to play for but the pressure was mounting and a Milford corner was not fully cleared and was picked up by Horn just outside the box. He managed to fashion a little bit of space and supplied an excellent cross to the back post. It was met by his centre half partner, Scott Griffiths, who rounded off an accomplished performance by the pairing, by heading home the third and decisive goal.

This gave Milford a chance to get fresh legs on. Owen Wilson, Lewys Tee and Liam Parr came off for a well deserved rest. All three contributing well to an impressive performance.

The new arrivals ensured that the home side kept their foot on the gas. A darting run by Liam Parks into the penalty area looked dangerous and a Pennar defender couldn’t get to ball and brought him down for a penalty.

Ashley Mathias stepped up confidently to take the spot kick and dispatched it into the bottom right corner.

Milford were enjoying their football now and continued to dominate possession and a ball played over the advancing Pennar defence fell to Scott Griffiths, who, with two touches, put the ball into the back of the net, only to be correctly ruled offside and denied a brace.

It was now time for another one of the substitutes to get nvolved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal.

An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

Sorry sent in error. Cont.:-Get involved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal. An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

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Bridge and Clarby settle for a point

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CLARBESTON ROAD and Merlins Bridge were forced to settle for a share of the points on Saturday (Jan 15) as their game finished 1-1.

The two sides had met at the Racecourse in November with that game finishing 3-3 and it was another close game on Saturday.

Matthew D’Ivry opened the scoring for the Wizards inside 5 minutes after latching onto a short back pass and firing into the top corner.

Will Haworth missed great chance to double the lead for the visitors and at the other end Ben John forced Bridge keeper James Dickson into a save.

Within seconds of the restart, Dickson was again called into action in what was the save of the afternoon.

Midway through the half, Clarbeston Road were level as Charles George powered in a header from a set piece.

Shortly afterwards, Ben John had a goal disallowed for Clarbeston Road but there were no further chances and a draw was a fair result.

On Saturday, January 22, Merlins Bridge travel to Goodwick United while Clarbeston Road travel to Fishguard.

Clarbeston Road: Matthew Davies, Josh Wood, Greg Brown, Tom Glover, Matthew Griffiths, Jake Booth, Charles George, Ben John, Jason Griffiths, Steffan Thomas. Subs: Joules Ward, Matthew Ellis, Keegan Summers.

Merlins Bridge: James Dickson, Chris Ormond, Andrew John, Josh Silk, Henry Thomas, Dai Davies, Jordan Williams, Leon Davies, Matthew D’Ivry, Will Haworth, Ben Davies. Subs: Matthew Price, Chris Brown, Lee Hudgell.

PHOTO by MW10 Sports Photography

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