GERALD Davies will be the next President of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), it was announced today, as clubs also elect their first female National Council Member.
Davies will take up his elected position to the Union’s highest ambassadorial office at the close of its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on November 17, and Liza Burgess joins the Council, moving just one step away from potential election to the WRU Board.
Davies won the Presidency by majority vote of the member clubs of the WRU surpassing the other two high calibre candidates, Terry Cobner and Tommy David, and will replace current President Dennis Gethin who will have served 12 years upon his retirement from the position after the AGM.
He will serve a maximum three year term in an ambassadorial role vital to the day-to-day operations of the Union, and will be charged with continuing to unite the game in Wales and upholding the core values and strategy of Welsh rugby, whilst acknowledging the heritage and traditions of its long and proud history.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to welcome Gerald Davies as the next President of the WRU and we look forward to him officially taking up the position in November,” said WRU chairman Gareth Davies.
“Three individuals not just well respected in Wales, but each with their own significant profiles in the world game, have stood for our highest ambassadorial office and I would like to thank all three for their candidacy and for producing such a high calibre contest.
“The WRU Presidency is a post which dates back over a 130 years to the humble beginnings of our national game, it’s a role which very much reflects the character and capabilities of the individual who fulfils it and I’m sure Gerald will put his own stamp on the position and help take Welsh rugby to new heights.
“Of course, during the long and illustrious history of the game in Wales, many great rugby men have honoured us by assuming the position, not least Dennis Gethin who has stood tall as a figure of immense gravitas, warmth and acumen as he has represented us around the globe during his tenure.
“And this is the ideal opportunity for me to thank Dennis on behalf of everyone involved in the game in Wales for his dedication and commitment to the national cause whilst in post, but it is also with great delight that we welcome Gerald as his successor.”
Davies, 74, is the former British & Irish Lions (1968 and 1971), Wales and Cardiff wing who starred in the famous ‘70s triple Grand Slam winning backline which also featured the likes of Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams.
He won 50 caps, including four for the Lions, amassing 23 tries during his international career and also featured for Llanelli, Loughborough College, Cambridge University, the Barbarians and London Welsh.
He later became a distinguished rugby writer with The Times and was appointed Lions Team Manager and figurehead for their 2009 tour of South Africa – an honour which coincided with his nine year tenure as a WRU Director between 2005 and 2014 – and he is currently chairman of Guinness PRO14 Rugby.
“It’s a wonderful honour to have been asked to represent our national game as President and I would like to thank all of the member clubs throughout Wales for giving me the opportunity to serve Welsh rugby,” said (Gerald) Davies.
“Welsh rugby has a great history and tradition and I’m delighted to follow in the footsteps of some truly exceptional rugby men who have held the position through time.
“It has been my greatest honour to have played international rugby for Wales, but it really is the pinnacle of my lifetime in rugby to receive this honour at such a wonderful time for our national sport.
“We are making magnificent progress not just on the pitch but also our progressive union is doing great things off it, and I’m particularly delighted to hear the news about Liza Burgess joining the Council and increasing female representation within our governance.”
Burgess won the contest for the available National Council Member position, to be vacated by Anthony Buchanan (at the conclusion of the AGM in November, when he also vacates his position as a WRU Director), by majority vote over fellow candidates Roy Wilkinson, John Manders and Sian Griffiths.
Next, one of four National Council Members (Colin Charvis, John Morgan and Mark Taylor are the other potential candidates) will be elected as a WRU Director by fellow members of the WRU Council, following the AGM.
This means Burgess could be the first female to be elected to the WRU Board in more than 130 years of history – with current Director Aileen Richards having been appointed, rather than elected, as an Independent Non Executive Director in 2015.
“I’m both hugely humbled and delighted that the clubs around Wales have voted for me in enough numbers to secure my position on the Council and intend to fully reward the faith they have shown in me,” said Burgess.
“The significance of being the first elected female Council member is not lost on me, the Union and its member clubs deserve due credit for looking beyond the established traditions of the governance structure and I am grateful to all those who have encouraged me to stand and supported my nomination.
“I intend to now fully embrace this new opportunity and challenge, as we all work collectively toward safeguarding the future of our national game for all.”
Burgess is the decorated 93-times capped former Welsh Women’s international trailblazer and coach, who created history when she coached the first Women’s Barbarians team and is currently coaching Gloucester-Hartpury in the Tyrrell’s Premier 15s in England.
Elsewhere two new District Council Members have been elected – also due to take their positions at the end of the WRU’s AGM in November – Jeff Davies of Seven Sisters rugby club was elected by majority vote of member clubs in District E, replacing Geraint Edwards, and Colin Wilks of Risca was elected in District A, to replace Ian Jeffery.
“We were delighted to see two female candidates for the position of National Council Member, with Sian Griffiths also a highly credible candidate, as were John Manders and Roy Wilkinson, and Liza is a hugely welcome addition to the WRU Council,” added Davies.
“We have called for our clubs to help us ‘break the established mould’ in terms of candidature for these senior positions in Welsh rugby and they should be particularly commended for doing so in this instance.
“Welcome also to Colin Wilks and Jeff Davies who are two more important additions to the WRU Council which is charged with overseeing the community game throughout Wales.”
‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!
A new project has been launched which is completely free for young people from across the Llanelli area.
‘Premier League Kicks’ run by Swansea City Community Trust started last Tuesday (14th January) and is already proving to be a success with both children and their parents.
Boys and Girls of all abilities are welcome to take part with sessions taking place on the brand new 3G pitch at Ysgol PenRhos.
Ages 8-12 take place on every Tuesday evening between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with ages 13-16 on every Wednesday between 8.00 and 9.00pm.
As well as the football sessions, activities will also include informative, educational workshops covering a wide range of issues including knife crime, county lines and online safety.
Craig Richards from the Swans Community Trust said:
“Nationally, ‘Premier League Kicks’ is one of the Premier League’s flagship community programmes. It has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help youngsters in some of the most-high need areas.
“By engaging young people in constructive activities including football, coaching, educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive football and sports participation rates, and authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered.”
Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward added:
“It is a pleasure to link up with the Swans Community Trust, Police and Crime Commissioner, our PCSO’s, Llanelli Town Council and the Community Safety Partnership in bringing forward such an exciting project.
“Engagement has taken place with both local schools at Ysgol PenRhos and Ysgol Maes Y Morfa as well as strong partnership work with our existing sports clubs in the area at Seaside AFC and Bwlch Rangers too all of whom have been very supportive.
“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out in great numbers with more expected next week. It gives them somewhere to go in the area and have fun with others within a safe environment.
“I now look forward to seeing this project go from strength to strength.”
Old Gold snatch vital draw
JD Cymru Premier League
Penybont 1 – Carmarthen Town 1
AFTER an impressive performance to defeat Penybont at Richmond Park on Boxing Day, expectations among the Town supporters who travelled along the M4 for this Cymru Premier League return fixture. Glad tidings of great joy were, however, in short supply this time around.
An uneventful opening period saw play confined to the pitch’s middle third, neither side threatening much in the way of attacking threat.
In the 11th minute, Penybont carved open the Old Gold defence in clinical fashion.
Nathan Wood fired a dangerous cross towards the far post where Daniel Griffiths rose high above Alaric Jones to head the ball back into the goalmouth. Kostya Georgievsky reacted quicker than any defender and planted his close-range header past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
As Town appeared laboured and uncertain, on 31 minutes Penybont went close to stretching their lead when Wood released a fierce long-range drive that Idzi, with a flying full-length dive, turned narrowly wide of the post.
Carmarthen’s only significant goal threat during the entire first-half came in the 36th minute when a rasping effort from Luke Bowen was well-parried by home keeper Rhys Wilson.
The second half’s opening was no better than the quality of play in much of the first period. Both sides gave the ball away too easily, with careless misplaced passes a constant feature of their exchanges.
Midway through the second-half, Town gradually began to exert notable pressure on the Penybont defence.
On 77 minutes Declan Carroll fired a free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Jay Woodford, from 15 yards, curled a delightful shot over several defenders but saw Wilson produce a smart save to claim the ball.
Penybont defended deep in their own half while the Old Gold turned on the afterburners in search of an equaliser. Several powerful attempts on the Penybont goal were saved by the impressive Wilson. Against the run of play, Penybont squandered a late opportunity to make the game safe.
Having survived that scare, the Old Gold resumed their sustained assault on the Penybont goal – and they were duly rewarded.
Three minutes into added time Carroll sent a searching corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Bowen saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line by Wilson – but the experienced striker reacted immediately and positively by driving the loose ball past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
Once the Carmarthen players’ delirious celebrations had subsided the game restarted and then very soon afterwards the referee blew the final whistle, probably much to the relief of Town’s supporters!
Town’s next fixture, against Airbus UK at Richmond Park on Saturday, January 11 (k/o 2.30 pm) will be an important fixture if the Old Gold are to retain their Premier League status
County cling to win
JD Cymru League Division One (South)
Friday, January 3
Llanelli Town 0 – Haverfordwest County 1
A 5th-minute goal by the visitors` Nicky Palmer ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides at the close, a result which extended the home side`s winless streak to seven league matches. During this dismal run, they have picked up only two points, while their goal tally is equally depressing, scoring just 10 and conceding 21.
The strain showed in the reverse fixture, when despite a spirited performance, Llanelli were well-beaten in the end.
Again, Llanelli fielded a depleted side and included no fewer than five Academy members, with William Wang and Liam Thomas making their debuts, along with Liam Griffiths and Morgan and Jack Cutler.
With the Bluebirds heading the league table, the home team approached the game with hope but little expectation. However, the makeshift hosts pit up a decent showing and were not unduly overawed or outplayed.
The early opener by Palmer resulted from some slack defending when he met a cross from Marcus Griffiths to drive it past Scott Coughlan in the Reds’ goal.
The home keeper then did well to parry to safety a dangerous ball across the face of goal by Jack Wilson, before the home side came close to an equaliser following a James Loveridge delivery to the far post which was met by a header from Nathan Logan which came back off the upright.
The visitors were winning the majority of the second ball, and when a long throw into the goalmouth by Wilson caused problems for Coughlan and his defenders, Griffiths reacted first but was denied from close range by a block which resulted in a corner.
Despite determined defence, Llanelli struggled to establish a foothold in proceedings, and when a corner was partially cleared only as far as Ben Fawcett, he might have done better when he drove his finish wide from a promising position.
The home team were certainly more pro-active from the restart. The Bluebirds’ goal came under threat on several occasions, with a Loveridge back-heel setting up Logan for a strike which was diverted for a corner.
Logan then turned provider when he played a pass into Tim Parker in the area, but his effort on the turn lacked power and gave County goalie Kyle Stuart few problems.
The home team came agonisingly close again to an equaliser when Logan met a Liam Samuel ball but again could only find the upright, and when the ball ran loose, it was scrambled clear off the line.
The Bluebirds retaliated through Fawcett who drilled a free-kick inches off target, and then just failed to connect with a ball driven across the face of goal when the Reds made a complete hash of a short goal kick and conceded possession.
A minute from time, the problems for the hosts became even more acute when Loveridge and Kurtis Rees were involved in a flare-up, leading to the dismissal of both players by referee Daniel Richardson.
While the Bluebirds ran out deserved winners, there will be tougher games ahead and they will want to improve significantly on this showing to cement their place at the summit.
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