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Principality Stadium officially unveiled

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New name: The Principality Stadium replaces the familiar Millennium Stadium

New name: The Principality Stadium replaces the familiar Millennium Stadium

PRINCIPALITY STADIUM has been officially unveiled by Wales head coach Warren Gatland to signal the start of an historic 10- year investment in Welsh rugby by Principality Building Society.

The partnership between the WRU and Wales’ largest building society sees Wales’ iconic home ground renamed Principality Stadium with the overarching aim to develop and grow rugby in Wales at all levels.

The two-time British and Irish Lions coach was the first to switch on the lights of the new external signage at the venue, lighting the sky with the words ‘Stadiwm Principality Stadium’ followed by a spectacular firework display.

“The national stadium is a very special place for everyone involved in Welsh rugby and it is a great pleasure for me to be here for the official opening of Principality Stadium,” said the head coach whose tenure includes two Grand Slams and three RBS 6 Nations titles.

“I’ve said it before, but the stadium is simply the best rugby stadium in the World and as a squad we can’t wait to play at Principality Stadium in the Six Nations over the coming weeks.

“The partnership with Principality Building Society will benefit the whole game from grassroots right through to the elite and it is great to have their support to help grow the game over the next 10-years.”

WRU Chairman Gareth Davies and Principality Building Society Group Chief Executive Graeme Yorston provided the official welcome for the ‘switch on’ event.

“Today marks a new era for Welsh rugby in the opening of Principality Stadium and the start of a positive 10-year partnership with the team at Principality Building Society, who have provided great support of the community game in Wales,” said the WRU Chairman.

“This new partnership is a boost for all levels of Welsh rugby, with reinvestment in rugby communities and individuals who dedicate so much of their time, energy and passion to the sport.

“The partnership is also a key factor in our vision to encourage more people to engage with rugby, more often, providing more enjoyment and success on the field.

“I am delighted to celebrate a strengthening of our relationship with one of Welsh rugby’s key partners and I want to thank Principality on this landmark day for their continued support.”

Former Wales international and current U20s Manager Mark Taylor, who was the Stadium’s debut try scorer in Wales’ historic win over South Africa on 26 June 1999, and triple Grand Slam winning Welsh international Ryan Jones were also among the guests at the event.

The two-day celebration also includes a festival of grassroots rugby, which will see under 7s teams from across Wales becoming the first people to step out on the hallowed pitch tomorrow (Saturday January 23).

Principality has invited players representing Bridgend Sports, Dulais Valley, RTB Ebbw Vale, Treherbert and Wrexham who have been selected for their commitment to the development of rugby both on and off the field.

The young players will be accompanied by their parents and will take part in a skills session delivered by WRU Coach Core Apprentices and national squad representatives followed by autographs and an exclusive Q&A.

Graeme Yorston, Group Chief Executive of Principality Building Society, said: “This partnership provides substantial support to nurture future rugby talent and grow the grassroots game at all levels in Wales, whilst providing substantial benefits for our loyal members, our savers and borrowers. It will also bring substantial economic benefits to our country – with a range of exciting events and concerts being held at the Stadium over the next 10 years.

“We are proud to put our name to the home of Welsh rugby – a home that truly belongs to the nation and is at the heart of Welsh life.

“Principality has been part of the fabric of Welsh life for more than 155 years, helping people to prosper in their homes, and it is important to us to stay true to these roots and continue to invest in our heartland to support the communities in which we and our customers live and work.

“We hope that Principality Stadium will be a place where unforgettable memories are created, where the passion and pride of Wales will be witnessed in all its glory.”

As well as being the home of Welsh rugby, the multi-purpose venue plays a central role in Welsh life. Supporting local community events and attracting major music concerts and high profile business events to the area, the Stadium actively generates more than £130m for the local economy each year.

The WRU shares a long and proud history with Wales’ largest building society, dating back to 1969 when the first partnership between the two parties offered Principality Members some of the first WRU debenture seats.

From 2001 the building society sponsored the WRU’s main knockout cup competition later progressing to become the ten-year title sponsor of the Premiership division in Wales in 2005.

Wales’ first international match at Principality Stadium is the sell-out clash with Scotland on Saturday 13 February. Earlier this week, Gatland named his 37-man squad for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations.

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Raiders seal first ever win

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West Wales Raiders 44

Coventry Bears 16

Lucas Marshall, Stebonheath Park,

A LATE rally by Coventry Bears was not enough to deny a jubilant West Wales Raiders their first-ever win at the 45th time of asking.

The old South Wales Ironmen tasted victory against Gloucestershire All Golds in the first match played at Stebonheath Park back in July 2017, but never before have the side won under the Raiders banner. And it was certainly worth the wait as the Raiders dominated much of the game against a Bears side that doesn’t have the best record when travelling to South Wales. The other game the Ironmen won in 2017 was against Coventry, whilst the Bears only won by 10 points at Llanelli last season.

Dewi Billingham made his Coventry debut while trialist Zak Williams made his first appearance since returning to the Bears. But both former Raiders stars were unable to come back to haunt their former employers.

Try time: Raiders celebrate another try. Photo by Darren Harries

Much of the damage was done in the first half with the Raiders taking control from the kick-off and eventually going in 20-0 up at the break.

It took only six minutes for Raiders to break the Bears defence when good work down the left put Dalton Desmond-Walker in for the opener. Phil Cowburn added the extras but was off target just moments later after Ash Bateman was on the end of some quick passing to go in on the right.

When Morgan Evans went in for the Raiders third, again converted by Cowburn, their loyal band of supporters started to believe they were on course for victory.

It could have been even worse for the Bears, but strong defence saw them hold the visitors up over the line on three occasions mid-way through the half. Although there was no denying Archie Snook with one of the final plays of the half after Welsh International Steve Parry had split the Bears defence to put the centre through. Cowburn once again failed with the conversion but the Raiders still celebrated their most positive 40 minutes in almost two years.

After the break, it was the Bears who struck first through Reece Rance, but any hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished by three quick-fire tries.

First, former Bears player Mitch Shaw scooted over, before Bateman and Snook both got their second try of the afternoon to all but secure the victory for the Llanelli-based outfit.

Parry then went in for the Raiders’ eighth try of the day to put the icing on a long-awaited cake.

But the Bears were by no means done and added two further tries of their own to make the scoreline look a little less dominate than the game suggested.

Tries from Errol Carter and South Wales youth system graduate Cobi Green, along with two Joe Sanderson conversions rounded off the scoring for the visitors.

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Dafen see off Porthcawl

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DAFEN Seconds earned their sixth win of the season on Saturday (Jul 6) as they beat Porthcawl by 75 runs.

Porthcawl won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Dafen out for 182.

Opener Oliver Evans made a score of 19 and Chris Randell scored 25 as a number of Dafen batsmen made good starts.

Jonathan Griffiths scored 22 and there were also scores of 15 from Tom Lavender and 16 from Luke Dunning.

Matthew Thomas made a late score of 18 while Andrew Randell top scored with 43 runs.

Nicholas Morgan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for the loss of 30 runs from his 6.3 overs.

Mark Bevan also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-37.

Photos by Darren Harries

That set Porthcawl 138 to win but they lost a number of batsmen for single figure scores as they struggled to put runs on the board.

Andrew Randell had Nicholas Morgan caught by Jac Morgan and Matthew Thomas had Rhodri Phillips caught by Chris Randell.

Chris Richards made a score of 13 before he was bowled by Rhys Marchant who then also bowled Rob Warren and had David Lewis caught by Chris Randell, both for ducks.

Tim Richards also fell for a duck when he was caught off the bowling of Matthew Thomas.

Mark Lewis had scored 25 but he also fell to the bowling of Marchant.

Steffan Flood also scored 25 before he was bowled by Chris Randell and Joshua Aubrey added 20 late on before he also fell to the bowling of Randell.

That meant that Porthcawl were all out for 107, giving Dafen seconds an excellent win.

On Saturday (Jul 13), Dafen seconds are away to local rivals Llanelli seconds.

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Rees century sees Llanelli to win

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LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees scored a century on Saturday (Jul 6) to help his side to victory over Briton Ferry Steel.

Briton Ferry won the toss and elected to bat but they were restricted to 186-8 in their innings.

Steven Devonald struck early on to remove Evan Hynes but Lloyd Clement and Jamie Griffiths shared 44 runs for the second wicket.

Jac Rees had Griffiths caught by Craig Howells on a score of 24 and soon after Craig Evans was bowled by Aled Gilley for a duck.

Clement had made a score of 41 but when he was bowled by Rees, the Steel found themselves on 81-4.

That soon became 88-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Marcus Leaf off the bowling of Gilley.

Photo by Darren Harries

Iwan Rees then had Steffan Evans caught by Howells and Rhys Norgrove fell in similar fashion.

Jason Hughes and Thomas Williams shared 56 runs for the eighth wicket as they looked to give their side a total to defend.

On the last ball Williams was caught by Rees off the bowling of Gilley on a score of 24 which left Hughes not out on 67.

Llanelli openers Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips shared 42 runs for the first wicket before Phillips was caught by Rhys Norgrove off the bowling of Jay Webb.

That was as good as it got for the Steel though as they were unable to claim any further wickets.

Craig Howells hit seven fours as he finished unbeaten on 53 while Rees starred with 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 104.

The win gives Llanelli 19 points and keeps them third in the table. On Saturday (Jul 13), they travel to local rivals Dafen.

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