FIFTEEN of rugby’s best volunteers have earned their share of the spotlight this weekend, as part of a WRU campaign to recognise and reward contributions to the national game.
As Wales prepared to face the world champions in New Zealand, a new team of rugby stalwarts unite under the title of the WRU’s official ‘FABXV’ of grassroots volunteers.
The stars of the community game were crowned as members of the FABXV as part of a campaign to shine a light on the volunteers at the heart of Welsh rugby.
The initiative invited rugby communities to hail the men and women of all ages who give up their spare time for the good of their club, via @WRU_ Community using the hashtag #FABXV or by contacting the Club Operations team directly.
As well as recognition across WRU’s digital channels, the winners get an invite to watch Wales play Japan in the Under Armour Series on Saturday 19th November, along with a guest, in recognition of their vital support of the grassroots game.
More than 60 candidates representing the range of volunteer roles at rugby clubs were nominated; from the parent-coaches boosting participation across the minis and juniors sectors to those in the medical profession working evenings and weekends to ensure a high-standard of player welfare.
The FABXV campaign also identified rugby administrators with more than 50 years’ service to their club and highlighted the link between club and country when Ken Owens made a personal nomination as part of national Volunteers’ week (ending this weekend).
With the weight of an international hooker behind him, Carmarthen Athletic’s volunteer Brian Powell made it into the FABXV for his services to the club which include coaching the team to success as well as the upkeep and running of the club.
Also in the mix is former Principality Stadium volunteer Weldon Davies. The 75-year old from Bedwas helped to launch the FABXV campaign when Wales beat Italy in the RBS 6 Nations and he called time on his role as WRU Ball Team Manager, with 206 international matches and 50 years’ service to rugby to his name.
Further West, Ystradgynlais’ club president Glyndwr Rees is hailed as the ‘ultimate volunteer’ for 55 years’ service at the club. The former fixture secretary and club secretary joins the likes of RTB’s longest-serving administrator for a spot in the FABXV. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeves, according to the nomination: “You won’t see him in a blazer on a Saturday because he is happier marking fields, cleaning changing rooms and collecting jerseys. No job is too big or too small for Glyn. He is a leader and example to us all.”
At Ammanford, Richard Williams puts player welfare on the top of his agenda providing first aid support as well as being the club’s ‘go-to man’ who ‘can’t do enough’, according to the nomination. Alongside looking after the health and safety of the players, Richard’s contribution extends to kit man, cook, junior’s tea man, cleaner and committee member.
Jennie Davies gets the plaudits at Carmarthen RFC. In her role as Volunteer Coordinator, she is a role model and motivator to all aspiring volunteers in the area. Her enthusiasm and passion is a boost for the successful West Wales Female Rugby Hub, which encourages women and girls to get involved in alternative forms of the game.
According the nomination, Jennie is also the club auditor, funding coordinator, junior secretary and team manager: “Her enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication to the junior rugby of Carmarthen is second to none.”
The FABXV will meet as guests of the WRU to support Wales against Japan in the autumn, which also brings Australia, Argentina and South Africa to Principality Stadium.
The WRU is grateful to everyone who got in touch to celebrate volunteers on social media or via the Club Operations department. For information on the recruitment, retention and rewarding of rugby club volunteers, contact Club Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scarlets make five changes for European quarter-final
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.
Pembrey Country Park to host one of first post-lockdown events
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.”
Trundle and Robinson are back for another season with Ammanford AFC
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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