THE LLANELLI WARRIORS are looking to celebrate their 20th anniversary with one of the most ambitious trips ever undertaken by a club that includes players with disabilities. The club begin their season in Betws on Sunday (Sept 4)
After 20 seasons of including players with learning disabilities in rugby, the club wanted something spectacular to celebrate.
For their 10th anniversary, the club followed the Lions to New Zealand, playing three matches of their own.
Although the Lions are again in New Zealand this summer, the Warriors were keen to do something different and go even further.
So rather than return to Wellington and Auckland, they will follow the Welsh team’s tour of the Pacific Islands by travelling to Fiji.
When the Warriors were formed, it was to give people with learning disabilities the chance to play rugby.
Growing up in one of the great rugby towns of the world, the players were perhaps the only people excluded from taking part.
But, as the club developed, the aim was not only to give them the chance to experience rugby and be part of what their friends and family did, but to have experiences that would raise their status and standing as rugby players again.
The club have found that apart from the fitness and social factors you would expect from be part of a rugby team, it has been a massive confidence boost.
Parents have regularly told the club that they can’t believe the difference in their sons. They have had social workers tell them that it’s transformed people’s self-esteem, even the way they walk and hold their head.
The club often have players come to them, introverted and quiet, but they find friends, support, at least one part of rugby they are good at, they travel and take on able bodied athletes, they socialise, they do things and some of these players go on to give speeches, captain the team or lead a singsong.
The players who went to New Zealand came back with experiences few of their peers could match and memories that will last a lifetime.
For probably the first time ever, they had other local players jealous of them and what they had achieved. It changed the players’ attitude and it changed people’s attitude to them.
That’s something which the club are are trying to create again by heading for Fiji. People talk about the rugby culture of Wales and New Zealand, but the Pacific Islands manage so much with tiny resources.
Anyone interested in rugby can relate to the dream of going out there, an exotic location and some of the best rugby players in the world, as proved by their Olympic champions 7s team. Whilst the team are there, they hope to liaise with local disability groups, sharing some of their good practise and no doubt learning some things themselves.
Obviously the tour is going to be expensive and so there will be a whole series of fundraising activities across the season and the team are looking for help and sponsorship wherever they can find it.
This will invigorate a whole community of families and again highlight the concept of mixed ability rugby, and that a disability shouldn’t be a barrier to playing the game.
The team aim to show people around the world, from Furnace to Fiji, what inclusive rugby means and they are going to give some local players the trip of a lifetime.
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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