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‘European qualification vitally important’ – Rhys Priestland



Rhys Priestland: On the importance of European qualification

Rhys Priestland: On the importance of European qualification

SCARLETS outside half Rhys Priestland believes passionately that European qualification is a must for the Scarlets despite his departure to Bath Rugby at the end of the current season.

The international outside half who has spent his entire professional career with the Scarlets, and has made 155 appearances for the region since his debut over Exeter Chiefs in August 2007, is hoping to finish his tenure in West Wales on a high.

Speaking at the Millennium Stadium earlier this week, ahead of the region’s clash against Newport Gwent Dragons in Judgement Day, Priestland said: “We can’t afford to slip up now. People have said we have an easy run-in but we have two away games and it’s taken until the last game (against Zebre) to get our first away win of the season. The results are by no way given eventhough the teams are below us in the league.”

A top six spot will ensure Scarlets remain in the top flight of European Rugby next season, a feat that the Region have done since their, and the competition’s, inception.

The Scarlets are currently in seventh place, tied on 44 points with sixth placed Connacht, and Priestland believes making the top six in the Guinness PRO12 is crucial for the West Wales Region; he said: “It’s vitally important. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in the top tier of European rugby since I’ve been with the Region. Nobody wants to be a part of the first squad not to be involved in the competition. We’re treating this as if it’s the be all and end all now.”

With his time at the Scarlets coming to end, as he prepares to make a move to Bath ahead of the new season, Priestland says a strong finish to the season with the Scarlets would be a fitting end; he said: “It’s a strange part of the season now. We have weeks off and it’s hard to keep the rhythm going. There are a few boys leaving but we all want to finish the season strongly. I want to do well for the Scarlets in the last three games. We’ll try and win the last three games, they are games we can win. It would be nice to sign off with three wins now at the end and really leave on a high.” JUST when its General Election campaign was making a faltering recovery from a shambolic start, a UKIP candidate has revealed that she is considering whether to take legal action against her own party.

Norma Woodward, UKIP’s candidate in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr claimed to BBC Wales that she had been ‘intimidated, harassed and libelled by the UKIP Wales committee’.

UKIP’s organization in Wales, which is headed by MEP Nathan Gill, attempted to remove Ms Woodward as its candidate for the Carmarthenshire constituency after making public allegations of financial impropriety.

The farce originally extended to an ‘oh no she isn’t, oh yes she is’ tussle about Ms Woodward’s status as UKIP’s Westminster election candidate. At one point UKIP Wales’ website showed no candidate as being selected for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, while the UK website did.

In the end, UKIP’s UK leadership prevailed in the dispute, determining that its Wales office lacked the requisite power to deselect Ms Woodward as its candidate.

A statement at the time from UKIP said UKIP’s Welsh committee had ‘misunderstood its constitutional position’.

Ms Woodward claimed: “Right from the beginning I’ve had a tremendous lot of intimidation and harassment, libel and slander and sexual discrimination against me as a female.”

She continued: “The campaigning itself is straightforward, the work is easy.”

“It’s been the bullying that’s been very hard to cope with so I would like the opportunity to clear my name because I haven’t committed any of these things I’ve been accused of.”

Ms Woodward went on to state that UKIP’s central office had been ‘extremely supportive’ of her.

UKIP Wales responded to the allegations by claiming they were unaware of their candidate’s concerns: “These comments have only now been brought to our attention. Had they been raised with the committee previously we would have immediately investigated them.”

UKIP’s campaign in Wales has been a hit and miss affair, with a dispute in Brecon & Radnor resulting in a stand-off between party activists and UKIP Wales’ officers.

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Llanelli Warriors RFC Win World Award



THE LLANELLI WARRIORS were named double Ability Rugby International Champions, the results announced with perfect timing just as the Warriors held their presentation evening.

The Ability Rugby International Championship compares the results of all the mixed ability sides across the globe, with an emphasis on games played but with a win element incorporated.

The results for 2018/29 have been much delayed but saw the Warriors regain the title from Scottish National Clan team. They edged out newcomers the Dragon Allstars who were playing their debut season. The 2019/20 season may have been curtailed, but the Warriors still managed more fixtures than any other mixed ability side, this time edging out another new side, the Port Talbot Panthers.

Mixed Ability rugby sees players with and without disabilities play alongside each other and against ‘normal’ rugby clubs. The concept continues to spread rapidly and the days when it was just the Warriors and their Swansea rivals the Gladiators, have long gone. 10 years ago the 1st sides started forming outside of West Wales and there are now over 100 teams and groups world wide.

Captain Richard Evans was very proud. “It takes a lot to organise fixtures regularly so this is a great reward for all our efforts. The boys are very committed and we just love to play. It’s great to see so many sides playing now and it’s great to be at the forefront of the movement”.

The news boosted the Warriors presentation evening where they looked back over their season.

James Anthony was the main beneficiary, playing his 1st full season his pace on the wing and accurate boot helped him lift the Top Points Scorer award and the Player of the Year titles.

Players’ Player went to 2nd row Tom Ashour. Quick enough to have previously played on the wing, he proved a reliable source of lineout ball and was always combative around the field.

Luke Pearse was named Most Improved Player, narrowly beating Will Browne, Lloyd Cawley and Dan Grinter.
The most closely contested was Sportsman where Luke Pearse, Arwel Thomas and Dan John were pipped by Chris Davies. The nominees were described as the glue of the club by Chairman Gwilym Lewis, and vital to the teams success.

The Warriors are especially anxious for Covid regulations to lift as the new season will be their 25th. Planning is difficult at present but they hope to have a number of special fixtures. At the end of the season they are due to head out to Ireland for the 3rd Mixed Ability world tournament which will feature 24 clubs from 8 different countries.

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New look Cwm aiming to bounce back



During the lockdown period Ryan Stephens and his Cwmamman United
management team took the opportunity to undertake a major review of the
playing set up at the club and with training now having returned they have
already started implementing their exciting plan.

“ It was extremely disappointing to be moved down from Cymru South league
following the FAW average points formula, particularly when our form since
January suggested we could well stay up” said Ryan “ but these are difficult
times and to be honest we had not been consistent enough over the season”
Ryan continued ” We realised though that this was an opportunity to take a
good look at ourselves and create an identity and foundation where we could
enhance the way we developed our players and improve our professionalism.”
The club has recently introduced a new range of training and fitness
programmes, improved technical data and analysis capabilities as well as
create a players charter enhancing team spirit.

“ We have been busy bringing in a mix of young and experienced players to
join a squad where we have been lucky to keep a large group of key players
from last season” said Ryan. ” Combined with a strong group of existing key
young local talent that we expect to see step up this season and with two
strong reserve sides we feel we are in a really good place team wise. It is great
to see everyone buying in to the new approach”

“ We recognise this will be an extremely difficult league with many strong
sides but we are really excited about the challenge to get back to the Cymru
South. We aim to be a club where our players feel truly valued and our club
members, supporters and the community feel proud. We will continue our
preparations so that once it is safe to resume matches again we will be ready.”

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Tomi Lewis the latest to sign



FLYING wing Tomi Lewis has become the latest player to agree a new contract for the 2020-21 season.

The 21-year-old speedster is among a group of exciting young backs coming through the ranks at Parc y Scarlets.

A member of the Wales U20s squad that competed at the Junior World Championships in Argentina last year, Tomi has also shone on the world seven series, scoring seven tries in his debut tournament in Dubai as an 18-year-old.

A former pupil at Llandovery College, he came through the age-grade system at the Scarlets and scored on his senior debut in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash against the Dragons. He impressed for the Scarlets A team during this season’s Celtic Cup and linked up on loan with Ampthill RFC in the English Championship in January.

Scarlets recently announced new deals for 17 members of their squad with Tomi becoming the 15th player who has come through the Scarlets system to have agreed a new contract.

“Tomi is another young player who has an exciting future in the game,” said head coach Glenn Delaney. “He is working hard in the squad and has already shown what he is capable of playing for Wales at U20s and Sevens level. He is one of a number of talented young backs we are looking forward to seeing in Scarlets colours.”

Tomi said: “I am delighted to have signed a new deal with the Scarlets. I have been here since the age of 16 and have been fortunate to have been able to learn from some great players.

“At the moment, it is fantastic being in the squad alongside internationals like Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans and I’m looking forward to competing for the Scarlets jersey over the coming years.”

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