FORMER Wales Captain , Mark Taylor , has stepped down as Wales U20 Team Manager to spend more time with his family . The team’s 42-19 victory over Scotland marked his final match in the role.
The former Centre who won 52 Wales caps, scored the historic first try at the Millennium Stadium and successfully captained Wales on four occasions, has been a Wales international pathway team manager since hanging up his playing boots in 2008, first with Wales U18, and for the last six years with Wales U20.
Taylor, who also toured with the Lions in 2001, has decided to spend more time with his family and other work commitments, but admits he will certainly stay involved in rugby in some capacity.
“It’s been a massive experience for me over the past eight years . It’s been a pleasure for me to be part of the development of young players, especially when you see them go onto play for the senior Wales side.
“There have been a lot of highs and some lows in that time, which from a results point of view come down to a few heavy defeats to New Zealand, in 2011 and earlier this week.
“One of the biggest achievements was reaching the Junior World Championship final in 2013, when we probably should have beaten England in the final. Hallam Amos, Sam Davies, Steff Hughes and Jordan Williams were key to that campaign, especially in beating South Africa in the semi-final. It was the culmination of two year period under Danny Wilson as coach and the players learned a huge amount from the experience.
“One of the highlights of my career, including my playing days, was being involved with the first side to beat New Zealand U20 in 2012. Our team had gone from losing to New Zealand by 92 points the year before, with the likes of Liam Williams and Kirby Myhill in the side, to come back 12 months later and turn them over. The likes of Tom Prydie, Samson Lee and Rob Evans were in that side, the match was played in some of the worst conditions imaginable and that victory was right up there in terms of special moments.
“Despite a few results going against us during this tournament in Manchester, the current crop of Wales U20 players also created something special in winning the Six Nations Grand Slam.
“The way they came back to win in Ireland got them off to a great start, and the desire they showed to stay in the Scotland and France games showed what they are made of. The highlight of the campaign though was the big victory over England, producing excellent rugby for 80 minutes.”
The team manager role started quite small with Wales U18 , but a number of players who have gone on to become household names were in Taylor’s sights from the start.
Tom Prydie, George North, Eli Walker, Aled Davies, Matthew Morgan and Rhodri Jones were in the first Wales U18 squad Taylor was involved with in 2009, with Samson Lee, Rob Evans and Ellis Jenkins joining the party a year later.
“I was asked if I wanted to take on the role and I saw it as a good way to stay in touch with the game. I was involved with talent identification and also some of the backs coaching under Darren Edwards, who was with London Welsh at the time.
“Tom [ Prydie ] was outstanding for us in a Five Nations tournament in Italy and went on to become capped by Wales in the Six Nations the following year , before playing for us again later that season in the next Five Nations tournament. George North was the star of that tournament in Llandovery and was capped by Wales later that year.
“The day -to -day role involves a lot of organisation and coordination between the team, the rest of the Welsh Rugby Union rugby department, the other National Squads, the Regions and clubs, along with other Unions and tournament organisers. Basically everything that enables the coaches and players to get on with their job of preparing for matches. I will miss it but I owe my family some quality time after going straight into team management after ending my playing career. I will no doubt be drawn back to rugby as I still feel I owe the game a lot after everything it’s given me, but it will be more of a home -based role for the time being. I’d like to thank all the coaches and support staff I’ve worked with in my time with the 18s and 20s.”
WRU Head of Rugby Performance , Geraint John , paid tribute to Mark Taylor’s contribution to the Welsh Rugby Union over the last eight years.
He said: “It has been a pleasure working with Mark since my return to Wales and he will be a great loss. He is an excellent Team Manager, well respected by all players and staff and is well loved in the office with his professionalism, passion and humour. We totally understand the reasons why Mark is stepping down as family is very important.
“Even though he is leaving his current role I am hoping that in the future we will see Mark involved with our teams in some capacity. He is an excellent person with great values and we wish him the best but we will certainly be staying in touch.”
Trimsaran secure top spot
TRIMSARAN secured top spot in WRU Bowl Group G2 as they beat Furnace United 18-15 on Saturday (Oct 9).
A big crowd showed up at Caeffair for the top of the pool clash between the two sides and they were not disappointed.
Furnace kicked the game off and from the start it was the cherries who were in the ascendancy and were rewarded with an early shot at goal to make it 3-0 to the visitors.
Furnace were forcing Trim into mistakes and taking advantage of their ill-discipline. They were rewarded with another shot at goal which was missed. It was turning out to be a typical local derby game with both teams cancelling each other out for much of the first half.
The Trimsaran pack started to outmuscle the visiting pack at the set piece as the game approached the last 10 minutes of the first half and they were awarded a kickable penalty which outside half Corey Phillips converted to draw Trim level.
With half time approaching Trimsaran number 8 burst through the Furnace defence after some sustained pressure in Furnace territory and found second row Lee Thomas outside him who touched down with a superb long arm stretch to score the games’ first try. With the conversion missed it was 8-3 to the home team at half time.
Trimsaran kicked off a dramatic second half. Seven minutes into the second half Furnace were applying some pressure in the Trimsaran 22 when suddenly the referee in charge blew his whistle and halted play.
To the surprise of everyone in attendance he red carded Trimsaran second row and tryscorer Lee Thomas. This handed Furnace a numerical advantage early in the second half but some brilliant defence from Trim kept the cherries at bay.
10 minutes later Furnace finally had their first try of the game to even up the scoreboard at 8-8.
It only took a further 5 minutes for Furnace to retake the lead after a great finish from their Full back Myles Harries after a break down the right wing by Furnace before spreading the ball in the field of Play for Myles to touchdown.
With a man advantage it seemed Furnace were going to make it count. 5 minutes later Furnace were shown a yellow card after a dump tackle. This evened the game up and with the penalty Trim kicked to the touchline and drove their way over from a maul with prop Iwan Green emerging the try scorer. The conversion was successful and once again we were all level at 15-15.
With 12 minutes to go both teams would have fancied their chances at getting within range and securing a win.
Trim kept their tails up and with some good play and a great break they got themselves up to kicking range. Furnace give the penalty away for offside and outside half Corey Phillips kept his nerve to give Trim the lead 18-15 with 5 minutes to go.
Trim were looking to control the final stages of the game and see it out but got penalised just inside their half and Furnace attempted a penalty which fell just short to equalise the game.
With 3 minutes left there was a scuffle near the halfway line and the referee again brought his red card out and give it to Trimsaran number 8 Steff Roberts in which seemed to be a case of mistaken identity as he was accused of striking an opponent but it didn’t appear to be him.
This gave Furnace one last chance to steal the victory from Trim. Some brave defence from the lineout from the home team looked to have turned the ball over but another pen was awarded to Furnace who kicked their way into the 22 and with a 2 man advantage fancied their chances to snatch victory. Trim competed well in the lineout though and forced a knock on from the cherries and with it a loud roar of delight from the vocal home support.
A fantastic Derby game played out by both teams which sees Trim secure top spot in group G2 with one game to spare.
That game takes place this weekend when Trimsaran welcome New Dock Stars to Caeffair on Saturday (Oct 16).
Burry Port Reserves hold off Seaside
BURRY PORT Reserves closed the gap to second placed Seaside Reserves on Saturday (Oct 9) as they beat them 2-1.
The home side took the lead early on when Dean Thomas scored a penalty after 12 minutes.
Seaside hit back though and were level on 39 minutes when Nathan Lewis found the back of the net.
It remained 1-1 at half time but 13 minutes into the second half, Burry Port regained the lead.
Ioan Williams, who had only come on to the pitch a minute earlier, scored the goal which would ultimately prove to be the winner.
It earned Burry Port a third straight win in Carmarthenshire AFL Reserve Division 1 and they now sit three points behind Seaside.
Other results in the Division on Saturday saw leaders Loughor Reserves thrash Drefach reserves 7-1 while Gorseinon Athletic Reserves beat Trallwm Reserves 4-1.
Pontlliw Reserves were also 4-0 winners away at Killay Reserves.
On Saturday, October 16, Burry Port will look for another win as they take on Gorseinon while second plays first as Seaside host Loughor.
PHOTO BY DARREN HARRIES
Kidwelly edge past Burry Port
KIDWELLY beat Burry Port by just two points on Saturday (Oct 9) as they took ownership of the Lewi Jones Cup.
The Cup is played for in memory of Lewi Jones and is up for grabs when the holder meets another competing club.
A big crowd gathered for the game in Burry Port and they witnessed two good sides give their all for the win.
It was Kidwelly though who eventually came out on top winning by 11 points to 9.
Captain James Owens scored two penalties for Kidwelly while the crucial try was scored in the corner by Luke Thomas.
The Blacks scored three penalties but will take a losing bonus point for their efforts.
As well as winning the Lewi Jones cup for the first time, Kidwelly also move to within two points of the Blacks in WRU Plate Group G1.
On Saturday, October 16, Kidwelly are in action again as they host Llanelli Wanderers.
Burry Port are next in action the following weekend (Oct 23) when they travel to Felinfoel.
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