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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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Reds extend unbeaten run to nine matches

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EXTENDING their unbeaten league and cup run to nine with this latest win, Llanelli Town are now level with current leaders, Cambrian & Clydach Vale, on 14 points with a just a better solitary goal difference separating them.

Two well-taken strikes in either half by Keane Watts saw off the challenge of their opponents, who had plenty of the ball without really creating too much in the way of clear-cut chances in an overall somewhat scrappy encounter.

Both sides were singularly lacking a cutting edge in the final third, although the visitors did create the better opportunities with Luke Martin in the home goal dealing with an early Ryan Bevan cross.

A run by Thomas Hillman up the Swansea left culminated in a low delivery which was deflected for a corner, before Scott Coughlan was called into action to smother a near post attempt from Adam Morgan.

The Reds were having the better of the overall play, with efforts by Hillman and Miles John both on target but were blocked or dealt with by Martin, before they eventually took the lead on 27 minutes courtesy of a sublime through ball by Josef Hopkins which put Watts clear, and he kept his nerve by drawing out Martin before slotting his finish into the bottom corner.

Another chance was then created with Tim Parker sending Hillman away on a run, but this time the finish was dragged wide of the near post.

The home defence was finding it difficult to contain their opponents, and it took a good defensive clearance to nullify another dangerous low delivery by Eli Phipps when he was set up by a John assist.

A rare home attack ended with Morgan directing his header over the goal when he met a cross by Tom Johnston, before it took a saving tackle from Warren Hudson on Parker to prevent the striker homing in on the target.

The best chance for the hosts came courtesy of some sloppy Reds defending when an under-hit back header meant for Coughlan was seized on by Tim Hicks, and it took a great tackle on him in the box to relieve the danger and an almost certain equaliser.

This scare seemed to unnerve the visitors who were then let off the hook again following a corner which was partially cleared before being re-circulated into the goalmouth, where Parker was on hand to clear it off the line.

Having survived these two late first half efforts, the Reds were still clinging on to their narrow lead at the start of the second period, and were quickly into their stride, forcing Martin into early action on a couple of occasions, before gratefully seeing a Phipps header rebound off the crossbar when he connected with a Watts cross into the middle.

The visitors then made two changes, with Bevan and Phipps being replaced by Kyran Steadman and Louis Gerrard on 59 minutes, but it was the home side who then went close to levelling matters when Harry Huddart unleashed a superb strike which brought out an equally stunning save from Coughlan to direct it over the top.

With the contest entering its final quarter, the Reds brought on Nathan Logan and Travis Marsh for Parker and Hillman after 75 minutes, and within five minutes of these changes struck again to seal matters with Watts again the recipient, taking full advantage when a defensive clearance rebounded off his back allowing him to win a footrace for possession before directing his finish across Martin on 80 minutes.

The visitors then safely saw out the remainder of the match without too much trouble, and with confidence sky high in the squad, now look forward to their home league encounter with Abergavenny Town at Stebonheath on Friday evening, kick off 7.30pm.

The draw for the second round of the JD Welsh Cup has awarded them an away tie at Canton Liberal on Saturday, October 8.

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WRU Cup round up: Wins for Llangennech, Pontyberem and Nantgaredig

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THE WRU Cup competitions got underway last weekend and there were some exciting matches across all groups.

Llangennech sealed victory in their first game of the Division 1 Cup as they beat Kenfig Hill 32-17. They led 13-7 at the break and increased that in the second half.

Jordan Saunders scored the first try for Llangennech and Tom Neale converted before adding two penalties.

Joseph Hutchings was next to get on the scoresheet and Neale again added the extras to make it 20-12.

Replacement Rhys Davies then scored two tries with Neale converting the second one to complete the scoring.

The other game in Group H saw Llanelli Wanderers suffer a 21-30 defeat at the hands of Bridgend Athletic.

Lewis Jones scored two tries for the Wanderers and he added the rest with the boot.

In Group I, Hendy were also beaten as they suffered a 14-43 loss at the hands of Waunarlywdd.

In Group J, Felinfoel were beaten 23-8 by Bonymaen.

In the Division 2 Cup, Nantgaredig were victorious in an entertaining Group G game against Seven Sisters. They eventually ran out 32-29 winners.

The other game in that group saw Kidwelly beat Maesteg Celtic 52-7. Kidwelly put in a solid performance and their defence held up to some extreme pressure during the parts of the game.

Pontyberem were victorious in their first game in Group H as they beat Pyle 19-10.

The Bont worked hard for the win, scoring three tries with fly half Dominic Sauro crossing, and two tries for the returning back Mikey Jenkins. It was a solid enough performance against an experienced and rugged side.

In Group J, Burry Port suffered a narrow 23-26 defeat at home against Morriston. Tries for the Blacks came from Lewis Ellar and Osian Thomas. Lee Evans added two conversions and three penalties but it wasn’t enough for victory.

In Group L, Tycroes suffered a 3-39 defeat at the hands of Builth Wells.

In the Division 3 Cup, Tumble suffered a 22-42 defeat against Nantymoel in Group G.

In Group H, New Dock Stars earned a 22-13 win over Llanybydder. Tries came from Iestyn Bunyan, Adam Gealy and Glen Williams. Adam Gealy added two conversions and a penalty to help seal the win.

Trimsaran’s first game in Group I saw them beaten 13-32 by Aberavon Green Stars.

Bynea suffered a 52-0 loss in Group J against Tonmawr and in Group M, Betws were beaten 14-20 by Swansea Uplands.

In Group O, Furnace United were beaten 17-29 by Taibach.

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Scarlets denied victory by late Ospreys try

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A stoppage-time try denied the Scarlets a derby victory in a pulsating BKT United Rugby Championship clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Scarlets produced a dominant second-half display to lead 23-16 going into the final minutes, but some late ill-discipline proved costly with replacement Rhys Davies crossing and Jack Walsh converting to steal a 23-23 draw for the visitors.

Fly-half Sam Costelow was the outstanding figure on display, racing over for a brilliant individual try and kicking 13 points in a player-of-the-match performance. Centre Johnny Williams was also not far behind, delivering a powerful midfield showing that included a fine try of his own.

It was the Ospreys who started the stronger with the impressive Gareth Anscombe taking an inside pass for the opening try, which he also converted. Anscombe landed a penalty before Costelow struck back.

The Ospreys 10 was on target again to make it 13-3 then after Costelow was yellow carded for an illegal clear out, it needed a determined defensive effort to prevent the visitors crossing for their second.

On the stroke of half-time came one of the game’s many talking points with Justin Tipuric catching Johnny McNicholl with a late challenge. McNicholl was forced to leave the field for a head injury assessment and it led to a second penalty for Costelow.

After a rusty opening 40 minutes, the Scarlets went through the gears after the break.

A brilliant counter from the lively Tom Rogers paved the way for a third Costelow success, then from the restart Anscombe responded with three of his own.

Wing Keelan Giles was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and the Scarlets took immediate advantage when Williams burst through midfield and fended off defenders to the line.

Williams could have had a second, but the move was brought back for obstruction.

Then, with 15 minutes minutes remaining, Costelow produced a moment of magic to race clear to the posts for a score (after deliberation by TMO) that he also converted.

Costelow came within inches of a second, but the Scarlets kept pressing for the match-clinching score.

Instead it was the Ospreys who held out and in a dramatic finale headed down the other end of the field where Davies pounced before Walsh landed the game-equalling conversion with the last kick of a dramatic finale.

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