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Jenny rides the refereeing wave

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A CHANCE meeting with a former adversary was just the push Jenny Davies required to decide that becoming a referee was the next step in her rugby journey.

As the curtain came down on a playing career which saw her claim 74 Welsh caps in the front row, Davies had a conversation with trail-blazing Joy Neville after a game against Ireland.

Neville had a lengthy playing career spanning 10 years with Ireland before taking up the whistle in 2013. Since then she has been the flagbearer for women’s refereeing, officiating in Europe and in a World Cup, collecting World Rugby’s Referee of the Year award in 2017 along the way.

While Neville’s career continues to flourish, Davies’ is still in the embryonic phase having refereed for just two years.

“After retiring from playing, I tried coaching and found that I still thought I was a player and still ate like one, without doing the training,” says Davies.

“I also felt coaching didn’t give me the buzz playing did. So, I decided that I would have a go at taking up the whistle.

“After speaking to Paul Adams [WRU National Referee Performance manager], he persuaded me to give it a go. And after seeing Joy do so well and heeding her advice, I thought: why not?

“I think it is important former players become referees because they have an idea about what players and coaches are trying to achieve. They are more empathetic and will attempt to get the games to flow by playing advantage,” adds Davies.

Going from poacher to gamekeeper has had its challenges for Davies but her tenacity as a player has transferred to her refereeing skills, and she is enjoying officiating.

“It was a natural move [going from playing to refereeing]. I knew what the players want to achieve; however, sometimes my positioning was wrong because I still positioned myself as a player. Sometimes, I got in the way.

“So you just have to try and develop new skills to make it more fluid and that you are not in the way of the players.”

Since she took up the whistle two years ago, Davies’ progress has impressed Paul Adams.

Adams also emphasises the women’s programme collectively is heading in the right direction.

“Over the last 18 months there has been a very encouraging increase in the number of women refereeing the senior game regularly,” he explains.

“The numbers have increased from three 18 months ago to nine at present, with a further three referees refereeing age-grade rugby.
“We currently have four women refereeing in the National League and two more set to make their debuts this season.

“Last year, Francesca Martin was appointed to AR (assistant referee) in the Women’s Six Nations, our first appointment by World Rugby in this tournament.

“As a result of the increase in numbers, a new Women’s Development squad was established this year. They have already benefited from technical sessions and – once normality returns – they will meet regularly for psychological and physical fitness training.

“Sean Brickell (Community Match Officials Development Lead) is leading on this. He has already established an excellent work ethic which should be a great benefit to the girls next season. This year, for the first time, all three Women’s finals were scheduled to be officiated by all-women teams of three.

“Another first this year was the delivery of all women referee courses, which proved very popular.”

Jenny Davies is grateful for the assistance she receives from the WRU as she continues to move up the ladder.

“The WRU have been extremely supportive. Paul Adams and Sean Brickell have been really good. If I’ve had an email, they’ll respond to it. They’ve been really helpful. The support mechanism up in North Wales has been phenomenal. Richard Morgan, who is my main assessor, is very supportive and gives me feedback. If I have got a problem after a game, I’ll ring him and he’ll always give me advice.

“Even the other referees, when we have society meetings, if I have got a problem I can chat with them and they’ll give me their take on it. They’ll say, ‘what you did was right’ or ‘next time, why don’t you try this?’

“So they’re constantly giving me ideas that you can try on the pitch to make me better.”

Davies has no hesitation offering encouragement to anyone thinking about picking up the whistle.

“Give it a go. Go on a course. Get in the middle,” she says.

“Have a few games – you’ll know once you are on the pitch and have come off it whether you have enjoyed it or not. I don’t think it’s something you decide on after just one game: you need to give it a few games. It’s just like playing, in that regard.”

Despite her refereeing career going on an upward trajectory, Davies is keeping her feet firmly on the ground at the moment.
“I haven’t really set myself a goal at the moment, I’m just riding the wave to see where it takes me,” she says.

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Behind the Scenes with West Wales Raiders & Llanelli Town AFC CEO Peter Tiffin

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EACH week we will take a look at what’s going on at both clubs with an insight from the CEO.

As most in sport know January is a busy time for clubs with the transfer window back open, last week saw both the Raiders and Reds welcome in new players and will be straight in to action for both sides before the end of the month.

It’s been a very difficult period with the spectator’s restrictions and the pausing in season for the Reds especially with the new managers coming in and beginning their time with the club with a win at Stebonheath Park.

Thankfully the restrictions are easing and next weekend both the Raiders and the Reds will be able to welcome back fans to our home of Stebonheath Park with home fixtures on Friday evening (Llanelli Town v Undy) & Sunday afternoon (West Wales Raiders v Swinton Lions).

This week has also seen a few new partnerships and one in particular was a launch to support a community project for lonely people to attend various events, both the Raiders & the Reds have offered tickets to all home games and our home bar will be working with the project on a fortnightly luncheon club.

To continue with new partnerships the Raiders decided this week that we would swap our sponsors logos with charities for a one off jersey which the players will play in against Swinton next week, I will be looking to work a lot closer with all 7 charities throughout the year and including both clubs in any events.

To finish off this week I wanted to add that Ethan George an up and coming local professional boxer who has plenty of talent will now be working a lot closer with myself, as a few of you may be aware that another professional boxer Angelo Dragone has worked very closely with both clubs and myself and we both will be working with Ethan to help him on his development within boxing.

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Leaders Trostre held to draw by Killay

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CARMARTHENSHIRE Premier Division leaders Trostre were held to an exciting 3-3 draw by Killay on Saturday (Jan 15).

Ben Lynch had put Killay ahead in the tenth minute but two goals in seven minutes from Ashton Jones turned the game around for the league leaders.

However, just four minutes later Liam Bennett equalised for the visitors.

The first half scoring wasnt done as Trostre regained the lead thanks to Rhys Griffiths.

That gave them a 3-2 lead at half time but they were dealt a blow early in the second half when Christopher Price-Williams was sent off for a second bookable offence.

It looked as if they were going to hold to their lead but five minutes from the end Brandon Davies scored to level the game.

The point for Killay moves them to within four points of second placed Pontlliw who were beaten 2-0 by Gorseinon Athletic on Saturday.

Matthew Hurford scored twice in the first half for Gorseinon to all but seal the win for his side.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Loughor Rovers scored two late goals to seal victory against Burry Port.

Josh Element put Burry Port ahead midway through the first half but two minutes later Andrew Burt missed a penalty for Loughor.

The score remained 1-0 to the visitors until eight minutes from time when Michael Grimwade scored.

Burt then made amends for his penalty miss as he scored the winner in the 89th minute.

Seaside earned their third win in a row on Saturday as they beat Pengelli United 7-2 away from home.

Callum Thomas put Seaside ahead on seven minutes but three minutes later Reily Lewis levelled for Pengelli.

Tray Jenkins then put Seaside back in the lead but the home side hit back again as Luke Rees levelled the game at 2-2.

Ben Honeybun then put Seaside back in front and they held on to their 3-2 lead until half time.

Twenty minutes into the second half Ross Jones scored to make it 4-2 before they scored three late goals.

Leon Bonifacio scored twice in three minutes and Jones added his second in injury time to complete the scoring.

On Saturday, January 22, Trostre visit Loughor Rovers and Gorseinon Athletic host Burry Port.

Killay are at home as they take on Bwlch Rangers.

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Felinfoel reserves edge seven-goal thriller

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FELINFOEL Reserves moved up to sixth place in Carmarthenshire Reserve Division 2 on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Dafen Reserves 4-3.

Felinfoel were forced into a change early on but just a minute after coming Morgan Smith had put the home side ahead.

Nicky Morgan then put Felinfoel in a strong position as he double his side’s lead.

However, Dafen hit back with Rhys Winnett scoring ten minutes before half time and then a minute before the interval to level the game at 2-2.

Just four minutes into the second half Morgan grabbed his second goal of the game to put the home side back in the lead.

With just under 20 minutes to go, Dafen levelled once more as Matthew Davies found the back of the net.

It looked as if the game might finish all square but four minutes from time Morgan Harries scored what would prove to be the winner for Felinfoel.

Elsewhere in the Division, Tumble reserves beat Pontarddulais reserves 3-2 to leapfrog Dafen into second place.

Saturday’s only other game in the division saw Johnstown reserves run out 10-3 winners over Kidwelly reserves, with Jack Kluge scoring five times while Jack Starkey also scored a hat trick.

On Saturday, January 22, Dafen reserves host Johnstown reserves while Felinfoel hosts Loughor Rovers thirds.

Llangennech reserves are also in action as they face Pontarddulais Town reserves.

Photo by Darren Harries

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