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Gerald Davies wins presidency

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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.”

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Scarlets make five changes for European quarter-final

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Johnny Williams and Sione Kalamafoni have been handed their Scarlets’ European debuts for Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol (8.15pm UK time).

Both summer signings are included in a side showing five changes to the line-up that took the field against the Dragons in the Scarlets last match of the Guinness PRO14 season.

Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns to face his former side, linking up with Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans in an all-international back three.

Williams and Steff Hughes continue their midfield combination, while Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies has recovered from injury to partner Dan Jones at half-back.

Skipper Ken Owens, Wyn Jones and Samson Lee pack down in the front row and behind them Tongan international Sam Lousi starts at lock alongside Jake Ball.

In a reshuffled back-row, the PRO14’s turnover king Josh Macleod gets the nod at openside;  Kalamafoni, who featured for Leicester Tigers in the pool stages of the tournament, wears the No. 8 jersey and Scotland international Blade Thomson has recovered from an Achilles issue to start at blindside.

On the bench, Ryan Elias, Phil Price and Javan Sebastian provide front-row cover with Lewis Rawlins and James Davies the other forward replacements. Kieran Hardy, Angus O’Brien and Tyler Morgan cover the backs. Morgan is set to make his first Scarlets appearance since joining from the Dragons.

The Scarlets and Toulon faced each other twice during the pool stages. A last-gasp converted try grabbed a 17-16 victory for the French side in November. The three-times European champions then claimed a crucial 27-15 win at Parc y Scarlets in January to ensure they topped the group. 

Head coach Glenn Delaney said: “It is a final for us. If you win three finals in a row you win a trophy. We are that far away from achieving the objective we all set out upon 12 to 13 months ago. It would be lovely to finish it off the right way. Whenever you get the opportunity to play for a trophy you have got to be very respectful and take it deadly serious, which is exactly what our boys have been doing.”

Scarlets team v RC Toulon (Saturday, September 19, 2020; kick-off 8.15pm UK)

15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.

Reps: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Tyler Morgan.

Unavailable because of injury

Rob Evans (neck), Rhys Patchell (calf), Liam Williams (foot), Daf Hughes (knee), Steff Thomas (knee), Alex Jeffries (elbow), Tomi Lewis (knee), Aaron Shingler.

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Pembrey Country Park to host one of first post-lockdown events

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Pembrey Country Park has been chosen to host one of the first outdoor sports events in Wales since the Covid-19 lockdown.

Welsh Government has given the go ahead for three trial sport and culture events as part of its continued easing of restrictions.

Pembrey Country Park will host a duathlon on Sunday, September 6, with a limited number of competitors, although there will be no spectators.

The event will be monitored and will help inform Welsh Government policy on future sporting events as the country continues its recovery from Covid-19.

The council is working with Welsh Triathlon to ensure athletes can compete safely, with strict risk assessments and protocols being put into place.

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to host this trial event here in Carmarthenshire, and hope this signals a return of more sporting events in the future. Our teams are working alongside Welsh Government and Welsh Triathlon to ensure that the event is safe and secure whilst providing an exciting and challenging duathlon course for competitors.”

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Trundle and Robinson are back for another season with Ammanford AFC

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Ammanford AFC are pleased to announce that the Ex Swans legends Lee Trundle and Andy Robinson are back for a second season with the club

The pair helped Ammanford AFC to achieve a respectable seventh place finish in the JD Cymru South league last season.

The Supporters of Ammanford will welcome the news and will be hoping that they can go and watch their team once clearance has been given.

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