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New format agreed for Champions Cup and Challenge Cup

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THE four Welsh rugby regions have learned their fate after the finals rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup were suspended.

Group stage matches were postponed in January after the French Rugby Union raised concerns about travelling across Europe amidst a rise in coronavirus cases.

The remaining fixtures have not been rearranged and European Rugby has announced a new format.

Both tournaments will resume with Rounds of 16 matches on the weekend of 2/3/4 April and the knockout stages will continue with quarter-finals, semi-finals and the scheduled Marseille finals on EPCR’s allocated weekends in April and May.

As approved by the EPCR Board, the Rounds of 16 and quarter-final matches in both tournaments will now be decided by draws which will take place on Tuesday, March 9.

For the Challenge Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs from the preliminary stage at the time of the suspension of the tournament and the eight clubs which have not qualified for the knockout stage of Heineken Champions Cup will compete in the Round of 16.

Scarlet will take their place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup alongside the likes of Racing 92, Munster, Lyon and La Rochelle.

Dragons, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues will all compete in the Challenge Cup and could come up against the likes of Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints.

For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, Challenge Cup clubs and Heineken Champions Cup clubs can be drawn against one another.

It has also been agreed that open draws will take place to determine the quarter-finals in both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs in the same league. The draws for the quarter-finals will take place immediately after the rounds of 16 draws on Tuesday, March 9.

Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage qualifiers: Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Begles, Munster, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh, Gloucester, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks.

Challenge Cup last 16: London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors

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Llanelli Town appoint Lee John as new manager

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LLANELLI Town has appointed Lee John as the club’s new manager and Dylan Blain as his assistant.

They replace Andy Legg who departed the club on November 25.

The new management team joins the club from fellow JD Cymru South side Goytre United.

Lee John’s first game in charge of the Reds will be against former side Goytre on Friday, December 3.

On joining Llanelli, Lee thanked players, officials and supporters at Goytre adding that it wasn’t easy to leave a close group of friends.

He added: “This opportunity to manage such a huge club in south Wales like Llanelli was far too good an offer to turn down.

“The ambition of the board is exciting, realistic and long term, which is what really attracted us to accept the challenge. We are ambitious managers who want to work at the highest level and that’s where this club deserves to be.

“What we will promise the club and its supporters is we will create and drive a committed group of players on to be successful and deliver the best standards possible for Llanelli Town AFC.

“We want people here who are fully committed to the cause and take pride in wearing the red shirt.”

Llanelli added their thanks to Goytre for allowing them permission to speak with Lee.

Goytre United said in a statement: “It is with deep regret that our manager Lee John and assistant manager Dylan Blain have made the decision to leave the club and join Llanelli Town.

“This decision has been made with our club challenging for the league title and with fifteen games to play.

“We wish them both the best for the future. Our club remains fully focussed and will continue to challenge for honours.”

On Wednesday, December 1, Goytre announced Mark Pike as their interim manager.

Llanelli’s game with Goytre United on Friday (Dec 3) at Stebonheath Park kicks off at 7:30pm.

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Wanderers run in six tries against Gowerton

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LLANELLI Wanderers earned their first win of the League 1 West season on Saturday (Nov 27) as they beat Gowerton 34-10.

The Wanderers scored six tries in total, five of them coming in the first half while both sides managed a try each in a less frantic second half.

Gowerton’s Josh Hamer scored a penalty in the first half but Llanelli held a 29-3 lead at the break.

Bleddyn James scored a try for Gowerton in the second half and Hamer added the extras but that was as good as it got for the visitors.

Jac Hart scored two tries for the Wanderers and others came from Ellis Dickerson, Callum Harris, Sianco Morgan and Rhydian Morgan.

Rhydian also added two conversions for the home side.

On Saturday, December 4, the Wanderers travel to Felinfoel while Gowerton host Gorseinon.

PHOTO by Darren Harries

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Pontarddulais Workmens seal fine victory in Snooker League

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STEVE Dunn’s fine 73 break was the undoubted highlight of Pontarddulais Workmens’ solid 6-1 victory against Burry Port Legion in the Llanelli Snooker first division.

Mike Footman, Keri Davies, Adam Griffiths and Kevin Sullivan added winning support while just Rich Nurse averted the whitewash for the Legion, for whom Rob Davies made a 32 break.

Dan Wells also made a 70-plus break, a fine 74 knock as Matchroom Reds also won 6-1, R.Evans, J.Thomas, L.Grey and C.Price also on top against Upper Tumble Blues; only E.Rees won for the visitors.

Similarly, just Nigel Lewis won as his side, Ponthenri crashed 6-1 at Gorseinon Workmens’; D.Williams (47), J.Wilcox, M.Dodd and K.Murrells added wins for the Brighton Road cuemen.

It was closer at Trimsaran, where the home side edged a 4-3 win against Llandybie Social A, courtesy of J.Tudor, C.Thomas (30) and L.Lloyd; Lindsey Pugh, Huw Morgan and Wyn Major hit back for the latter.

Andrew Hatto and Gavin Lewis were on the ball for Morfa, who went down 5-2 at Snooker World Whites; Andrew Whitfield (51 break), B.Thomas, J.Gimblett and A.Krysa added wins for the Ammanford side ,who, in a busy week, also won 4-3 at Pontyberem, thanks to A.Krysa, C.Jackson and B.Thomas; E.Bowen, S.Caton and A.Harris replied for ‘Berem.

Pontyberem also during the week were beaten 5-2 at Cross Hands B, whose frame winners were A.Phillips, Dai Isaacs, Gary Stead and Paul Martin.

Llanesco enjoyed a 5-2 victory at Llanelli Cons A, following wins from P.Shoulder, L.Lloyd, D.Bohn and M.Stevenson; Cons’ winning duo were Mark Sargent and Gavin Quinnell.

Elsewhere, C.Jones and L.Jones (31) were on top for Reading Room Blues in the Burry Port side’s 5-2 defeat at Matchroom Whites, with C.Davies, D.Roberts, L.Davies and W.Bowen on song for the “Gwyns”.

In Division 2, D.Jones, D.Sigsworth and S.Wright edged an aggregate win by just 12 points for Llandybie RFC in a 4-3 result against Upper Tumble Reds, who hit back via Mike Sainty, S.Marsall and N.Allinson.

T.Rawlings, J.Dean and C.Hurley claimed a similar 4-3 win for Burry Port Reading Room Reds against Snooker World Blues; Chris Waters, Callum Fuge and Steffan Rees were on song for the visitors.

It also needed the aggregate to split the sides as Llandybie Social B saw off Cross Hands A 4-3, Steve Pearson, Ian Matthews and Howard Wood winning; Adam Rees, Scott Bundfuss and Elwyn Williams were on the ball for the latter.

Matchroom Blacks returned from their visit to Upper Tumble Reds clutching a 5-2 success, after Rhys Morgans, Dean Shoulder, Ryan Maides and James Anthony had all won their frames; Steve Marshall and R.Williams replied for the  hosts.

Bern Price, Ray Barney, G.Stollery and K.Gronow gave the Gremlin Club A a 5-2 victory against Bryn A; J.Townsend and J.Jones replying.

In other news, there were Cup wins for Llanesco (4-1 against Cross Hands A), also Llanelli Cons A (5-2 at Matchroom Blacks), and for Llandybie Social B (5-2 over Bryn B).

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