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.
Special game marks start of Trimsaran’s centenary year
TRIMSARAN took on Llanelli on Saturday (Sept 11) as they opened their centenary season and there were some special guests in attendance.
World Cup final referee Nigel Owens came out of retirement to take charge of the game while Jonathan Davies OBE also came back to his first club.
Davies presented the Trimsaran players with their new shirts before the game.
There were around 500 supporters in attendance for the match which saw Llanelli eventually running out 78-12 winners.
Trimsaran battled well but it was Llanelli who showed their class as they ran away with the game in the second half.
After the game, Trimsaran took to Twitter to thank everyone who had made their day so special.
On Twitter they wrote: “Great game played in great spirits. Llanelli showing their class and running away with it in the second half. Massive thank you for coming down to help us celebrate our centenary season yesterday.
“Huge thank you to everyone who came to support. Around 500 supporters came down and helped us celebrate and watch a great game of rugby. It was great to see so many there and to see the clubhouse bouncing all night
“Thank you to Jonathan Davies OBE for presenting the boys with their jerseys before the game and to Nigel Owens and his 2 assistant referees for coming down.
“Thank you to all our sponsors yesterday, to all the hard working committee, volunteers and everyone involved with Trimsaran Rugby, without you the game wouldn’t have been possible.
“Thanks to Ricky King and Chris Wilds for all their hard work in getting the field looking superb Trimsaran Rugby
“And a final thanks to the Trimsaran Rugby players who put their bodies on the line and showed how much playing for this team meant to them against a Welsh Prem outfit, the boys certainly done themselves proud and could have scored another 1 or 2 themselves.”
The club had been due to celebrate their centenary season a year ago but that was delayed because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Llangennech bowl Gowerton out to end chase and seal fifth win
LLANGENNECH finished the season off with a win on Saturday (Aug 28) as they prevented Gowerton from reaching their target.
Llangennech won the toss and chose to bat first and they made a good total of 276-7 from their 50 overs with runs throughout the order.
James Taube and Nathan Richards made an excellent start as they shared 91 runs for the first wicket.
Gowerton finally made the breakthrough when Richards was trapped leg before by Matthew Mason on a score of 39.
Taube made his way to a score of 43 but he was then stumped by David Gascoyne off the bowling of Tom Clarke.
That left the score on 94-2 but Aaron Wood and Nathan Jones added 55 runs for the third wicket.
Wood made his way to a score of 20 but he was then caught by Callum Eakins off the bowling of Matthew Mason.
Jones and David Williams then shared 83 runs for the fourth wicket as they took Llangennech over 200 runs.
Jones hit four fours and a six in his score of 61 but he was then run out by Lee Nicholas.
Williams had smashed seven fours and three sixes in a score of 57 from 29 balls but he was then caught by Nicholas off the bowling of James Cable.
Richard Clement made a late score of 13 before he was run out by Daniel Allen and Hedd-Wyn Jones scored 14 before being bowled by Cable.
Those wickets halted Llangennech’s momentum but they were still able to finish their innings on 276-7, with 25 from Mr Extras.
Gowerton were soon in trouble in their reply as they slipped to 8-2. Michael Jones had Lee Nicholas caught by Jack Page and Bevan Daniels caught by Hedd-Wyn Jones.
That soon became 18-3 as Michael Jones bowled Luke Evans.
David Gascoyne and Matthew Mason looked to lead the recovery as they shared 37 runs for the fourth wicket.
Gascoyne made his way to a score of 27 but he was also caught by Hedd-Wyn Jones off the bowling of Michael Jones to leave Gowerton on 55-4.
Daniel Allen hit a four and a six in his quick fire score of 11 but he fell the same way as Gascoyne as Gowerton fell into further trouble on 88-5.
However, Mason and Callum Eakins shared 90 runs for the sixth wicket to keep their side in the game.
Mason hit nine fours and three sixes on his way to a score of 95 but he was unlucky to miss out on a century when he was caught and bowled by James Taube.
Tom Barrett added 10 before falling to the bowling of Jack Page before Eakins and Will Collinson added 40 runs for the eighth wicket.
Eakins hit six fours in his score of 45 but he was then trapped leg before by Page as Gowerton’s hopes of victory began to fade.
Page then had Collinson caught by Nathan Richards on a score of 20.
That left Gowerton nine down and still needing 38 runs for victory.
They were unable to get those runs though as Owain Phillips had James Cable caught by Page to bowl Gowerton out for 243.
It gave Llangennech victory by 33 runs and their fifth win of the season.
Champions Llanelli finish season in style
LLANELLI Cricket Club finished the season in style on Saturday (Aug 28) as they beat Bronwydd 103 runs.
They were presented with the South Wales Cricket Association trophy prior to their match and after winning the toss and electing to bat, they went on to make a score of 287-7 from their 50 overs.
They lost Craig Howells for a score of 19 early on before Iwan Rees and Steven Devonald shared 146 runs for the second wicket.
It was an excellent stand between the pair with Rees hitting eight fours on his way to a score of 75.
He was then caught by Tom Gleeson off the bowling of Rhufon Phillips as Bronwydd finally made the breakthrough.
Devonald and Rhys Harris continued to put runs on the board though as they shared 59 runs for the third wicket.
It also saw Devonald reach his century but Llanelli then lost two quick wickets.
Harris was caught by Gruffudd Owen off the bowling of Gleeson on a score of 24 and then bowled Rhydian Morgan for a duck, leaving the hosts on 247-4.
Devonald and Matthew Roberts added a further 38 runs for the fifth wicket before Devonald’s excellent innings came to an end.
He had hit fifteen fours and a six in his knock of 131 from 126 balls but he was then bowled by James Dickson.
Roberts was then run out by Owen on a score of 16 as Llanelli’s momentum stalled towards the end of their innings.
It saw them finish on a total of 287, giving Bronwydd a tough target to chase.
James Cale and Josh Rencken shared 43 runs for the first wicket but Cale was bowled by Iwan Rees on a score of 12.
Rencken and Jacob Jenkinson shared 67 runs for the second wicket as they looked to put their side in a strong position.
However, after Jenkinson was bowled by Twm Westcott on a score of 26 more wickets began to fall.
Rencken had reached a score of 47 but he was then bowled by David Richards.
Westcott then had Philip Howell caught by Rhydian Morgan before Richards bowled James Dickson to leave Bronwydd on 115-5.
Oliver Furneaux and Gruffudd Owen shared 48 runs for the sixth wicket but they were quickly running out of time.
Owen was bowled by Rees on a score of 20 to leave the visitors on 163-6 and they could only add 21 more runs to the total.
Furneaux finished unbeaten on 37 but Bronwydd ended their innings on 184-6.
It meant Llanelli could celebrate their title win in style.
News2 weeks ago
Operation Elegant: Eight sentenced to 40 years after police break up drugs gang
News1 week ago
Health Board issues urgent call to anyone due a second Moderna vaccine
Sport1 week ago
Special game marks start of Trimsaran’s centenary year
Uncategorised5 days ago
Cavity Wall Insulation Removal – Everything you Need to Know
News4 days ago
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children