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Martyn Phillips: WRU will give players a leg-up after they retire

Martyn Phillips: WRU will give players a leg-up after they retire

ALREADY wealthy former professional rugby players will be given a step into high-profile positions at big businesses within Wales and the WRU itself thanks to the launch of the WRU’s new Professional Player Development Programme.

The initiative will provide a pipeline of talented leaders into Welsh industry as well as helping to increase retention of players within Wales during their playing careers.

The programme consists of five elements including mentoring – provided by senior leaders from business and sport – psychometric testing to help determine future job compatibility and performance, support to obtain academic qualifications, work placements, and financial management and advice.

Welsh national age grade sides, women and all regional professional players will be covered by the scheme in future and, resource permitting, the WRU is also currently looking to support recently retired Welsh players where possible.

“We have been clear about our desire to retain talented players in Wales and this programme is part of our commitment to that goal,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.

“A rugby player’s career is relatively short compared to that of somebody in more traditional employment and we feel we have a duty of care to ensure a successful playing career is followed by a successful career post retirement from the game.”

The WRU has agreements in place with the majority of Welsh universities, as well as other further education establishments, to provide access to education and training on a part time basis as part of the programme and the scheme will eventually extend down to regional players, women and into the academies.

Many senior leaders from the worlds of business and sport have already signed up to the mentoring part of the programme, with the Union appealing globally for further interested parties with Welsh connections to get in touch and join the scheme.

“We went right to the top and asked the Universities if we could send players their way, asked that they be flexible about the players’ time when they are still playing, and for them to help facilitate the whole process – we were warmly received,” said Phillips.

“There are up to 300 careers available, everything from the traditional trades like bricklaying and plumbing to those that require academic qualifications like accountancy, law and medicine and we are appealing for new mentors to come forward.

“We see our players demonstrate courage, integrity, dedication and team work week-in-week out on the pitch.

“These are characteristics which are valuable in any modern business environment and I am confident that any player who embarks on the programme will be a huge asset to any organisation.

“With the level of drive the players show, their leadership and resilience as international sportsmen, they are very likely to be successful in their careers.

“We want to enable lifelong success as opposed to just playing success. We are trying to offer the players a 40- year career, 15 of which will be playing rugby and the other 25 doing something else.”

The Welsh senior international squad were told of the plans – warmly welcomed by Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton, the coach and captain – at a recent meeting.

Phillips has also spoken to many ex-Welsh Internationals who have helped reinforce the need for such an initiative.

And the WRU has set up a new department and solid structures to lead players into new careers of all sorts when their active playing careers end.

“Rugby should not mean that you have a decent career then we throw you to the wolves,” he added.

“We are trying to take away the pressure on players and their families when they are trying to earn it all when still playing.

“We are going to be working on the next thing in which they can be successful, the next thing that gives them a buzz.”

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Foel’s Championship dream halted



FELINFOEL’s hopes of promotion to the WRU Championship were brought to an end on Sunday (May 12) as they were beaten in the play-offs by Ystalyfera.

Ystalyfera had won the first leg 34-28 on their home soil but Felinfoel were still very much in the tie and they had the backing of an 800-strong home crowd in the reverse fixture. Fans packed in to the ground and they witnessed an epic encounter.

Felinfoel held the lead at one time but their opponents hit back to seal a 20-30 win to win overall by 64 points to 48.

Felinfoel played some attractive rugby during the first half with wingers Eray Wilson and Elliot Dawe scoring tries wide out one of which was converted by Aled Roberts. Ystalyfera scored a penalty and a converted try making the half time score 12 points to 10.

Photos by Darren Harries

The second half opened brightly for Felinfoel with Roberts kicking a penalty and Wilson scoring a further try. With the score at 20 points to 10, matters were looking favourable for the home team.

It was at this stage that the Ystalyfera forwards took complete control of the match denying Felinfoel of any possession for the final 20mins of the match. With a strong scrummage and dynamic driving maul they continued to exert pressure onto the home team.

Ystalyfera were rewarded with a further two converted tries, penalty goal and drop goal and deserved their victory 20 points to 30, and promotion to the championship.

Both teams are to be congratulated in the way in which the game was played. Both sides gave their all and provided an entertaining encounter.

Both sets of supporters gave loud vocal support to each team and were sporting throughout the match.

At the end of the match Felinfoel coach Mike King who is leaving after two years in charge was given a rousing send off by players and supporters alike.

After the game Felinfoel took to twitter saying: “After another successful season, it’s time to say thank you. Thank you to all sponsors for supporting the club throughout the season once again. Without you we would not exist. Thank you to all the supporters who have been with us through thick and thin.

“Lastly, thank you to head coach Mike King who will be leaving us. He has set the foundations of the club and has turned this club around for the better. All at Felinfoel RFC can’t thank you enough. We wish you all the best in the future.”

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Morgan marches seconds home



DAFEN Seconds earned the bragging rights over Llanelli Seconds on Saturday (May 11) as they cruised to an eight wicket win.

Dafen won the toss but elected to field and that looked to be a good decision as they bowled their opponents out for just 118 inside 22 overs.

Aadil Mukhtar finished with excellent figures of 5-21 while Oliver Evans supported well taking four wickets for the loss of 40 runs.

Needing just thirty overs of their reply, Dafen Seconds eased to victory as Jac Morgan finished not out on 64 to see his side over the line.

Photo by Darren Harries

The win for Dafen keeps them joint top of the table with Briton Ferry Town after two games while Llanelli sit bottom of Division 3 and are still searching for their first win.

On Saturday (May 18), Dafen Seconds are at home against Dyffryn while Llanelli Seconds are away to Neath thirds.

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Jones duo sink Bronwydd



LLANGENNECH earned their first win of the season on Saturday (May 11) as they beat Bronwydd by 14 runs in a low scoring game.

Llangennech won the toss and elected to bat but they lost Chris Hickey early on when he was caught by Jacob Jenkinson off the bowling of Colin Tucker.

Matthew Jones scored 11 before he was caught and bowled by Tucker before David Williams was caught by Tom Gleeson off the bowling of Matthew Vaughan for a score of 14.

James Taube made the same score but was then caught by Phillip Howell off the bowling of Dafydd Morgan. Morgan also bowled Martin Gregory to leave Llangennech on 83-5.

Opener Scott Lloyd’s score of 30 had come off 127 balls and he was eventually caught by Vaughan off the bowling of Callum Collins-Davies.

Richard Clement was the third Llangennech batsman to make a score of 14 before getting out as he was caught by Jenkinson off the bowling of Gleeson.

Michael Jones was then run out before Gleeson claimed his second wicket as he had Simon Clement caught by Oliver Furneaux.

Vaughan then wrapped up the innings as he had Bav Patel caught by James Cale to leave Llangennech all out on 124. Photo by Darren Harries

Bronwydd’s opening pair of James Cale and Philip Howell shared 15 runs but Howell was out for a score of 8 to the bowling of Michael Jones.

Oliver Furneaux was next to fall when he was trapped leg before by Matthew Jones on a score of 11.

Chris Hickey then gave Owain Phillips his first wicket as he caught Jacob Jenkinson and the bowler then claimed his second as he had Cale caught by David Williams on a score of 17.

That left Bronwydd on 44-4 but Iwan Davies and Dafydd Morgan shared 40 runs for the fifth wicket to keep their side in the game.

Davies hit three fours and a six in his knock of 33 but he was then trapped leg before by Michael Jones. He then also bowled Callum Collins-Davies for a duck to reduce Bronwydd to 84-6.

Matthew Jones then had Dafydd Morgan caught on a score of 8 before then trapping Tom Gleeson leg before.

Hickey then took two more catches of Matthew Vaughan and Colin Tucker to give Matthew Jones his five-wicket haul and Bronwydd were all out for 110.

Gareth John had finished not out on 18 but it wasn’t enough for victory for the visitors.

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