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Wales ready for Six Nations

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE 2018 Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday (Feb 3) when Wales, captained by Alun Wyn Jones, welcome Scotland to the Principality Stadium in a match to be refereed by Frenchman, Romain Poite.

Coach Warren Gatland’s squad has been hampered with many high profile injuries, the latest being former Scarlets full back Liam Williams alongside scrum half Rhys Webb and his half back partner Dan Biggar.

The Welsh nation’s attention will be focused over the next seven weeks on the rugby and local interest has been heightened due to the Scarlets progressing to the European Cup quarter finals where they play La Rochelle on Friday (Mar 31).

The opening game against a Scottish side who have revelled in attacking flair under coach Gregor Townsend in the Autumn Series will offer a test which Gatland’s charges will have to meet front on to secure a victory. Winning will set down a marker by which the side will be judged.

They travel to Twickenham a week later to take on England before crossing the Irish Sea to take on the Emerald Isle in Dublin at the end of the month.

Both England and Ireland are at the top of their game at present, where any positive result will see euphoria amongst rugby followers. Gatland has changed his blueprint of direct rugby through hard running centre partnerships now opting for a more creative player at 12 which follows the way the Scarlets have developed this season.

Rhys Patchell could well have the nod to partner Gareth Davies at half back and the back division would feature fellow Scarlets, winger Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny, although neither have played a lot of ruby in recent weeks.

The centre partnership may be pivotal, with Osprey bound Scott Williams linking with adopted Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes after both impressed in the Autumn Series.

Prop Rob Evans should pack down on the coal face alongside Scarlets captain Ken Owens and fellow prop Samson le has returned to full fitness and may become the third player in the front row.

Back row dynamos Aaron Shingler and newbie James ‘Cubby’ Davies, brother of injured centre Jonathan, are also probable starters for Gatland meaning the Pivac influence of ‘expect the unexpected’, albeit abstractly, could well influence how well Wales perform.

Following the two testing trips on the road, Wales return to the Principality Stadium to take on Italy on Sunday (Mar 11) when the fixture follows the Women’s international between the two countries, before the finale of the season when France take on the ‘Men of Harlech’ a week later.

Predicating any result in sport is precarious at the best of times and the Six Nations championship often depends on which country has the key fixtures at home. Wales would be looking to secure three home victories, where the toughest encounter will be the opener against our Gaelic cousins.

Travelling to Twickenham and Dublin are daunting for any side where realistically a positive result will be an outside chance at best.

England, with colourful Aussie hooker Eddie Jones in charge are hardworking and Wales may have to live off limited possession, although the Scarlets faced such a scenario when they travelled to the ‘Rec’ and comprehensively dismissed Bath in front of Jones watching eyes.

Where there is a will there is a way as veteran second row Alun Wyn Jones leads the side knowing it could present a title showdown against Ireland, possibly the toughest of opponents in their own back yard.

With some optimism the prediction is for four victories, the three home fixtures and an exhilarating performance to light up the return journey down the M4 for those die hard supporters making the trip to HQ.

England will also return with four victories, beating Scotland in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield and France in Paris as recompense for their humbling at Wales hands.

Ireland, with a win over Wales may find the final game at Twickenham one step too far as the ‘Rose’ will find it unbearable to lose two home games meaning they also end on four victories.

Italy will pick up the wooden spoon without securing a win, ahead of France with Scotland in fourth position.

Representing Wales on the referee’s circuit will by Nigel Owens, who has a long association with Pontyberem RFC in the Gwendraeth Valley, taking centre stage when Ireland take on France.

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Canolfan Carwyn Sports Centre and Brynamman Lido to be transferred to a community groups

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A MULTI- SPORTS facility, at the heart of the Gwendraeth Valley, has been taken over by a local sports group, the Baton Twirlers.

The management of Canolfan Carwyn Sports Centre, which is owned by Carmarthenshire County, has been transferred to the Baton Twirlers Association Cymru (BTAC) via a lease agreement and will allow the public to continue to use the facilities at the centre.

Whilst Canolfan Carwyn Sports Centre is now the official home of BTAC its facilities are available for the local community and sports groups to be used.

An official reopening of the Centre, which bears the name of one of the Gwendraeth Valley’s most famous sons, under the new management of the BTAC was held on Sunday, October 2.

Speaking at the event, Jessica Shore Director of the Baton Twirlers Association Cymru (BTAC) said:

“We are thrilled to have worked with Carmarthenshire County Council to secure this sports centre on behalf of the local community and it’s a pleasure to welcome the public here today. We are looking forward to working with and hosting various community and sports groups at the Carwyn James Sports Centre.

“It also was very important to us to provide a home for baton twirling in Wales, and we will make great use of the excellent facilities here.”

Cllr. Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “This is a great success story for the BTAC, the Gwendraeth Valley and the council as we have secured the future of the Carwyn James Sports Centre for the local community.

I would like to thank Baton Twirlers Association Cymru for their work and enthusiasm during the process of transferring management of the Sports Centre to them, as a community group, and I wish them the very best for the future.”

Plans approved to transfer management of Brynamman Lido

On Monday, October 3, the council’s Cabinet approved plans to lease the Brynamman Lido, which is held in trust by the Carmarthenshire County Council, to Brynamman Lido Limited under its asset transfer programme.

Under the proposed lease, Brynamman Lido Limited will take over the management of the lido with the intention to reopen the swimming pool for sporting, recreational and leisure activities.

Following the approval of the plans by the Cabinet, Cllr. Gareth John commented:

“We are pleased to be working with the local group in Brynamman to transfer the management and maintenance of the lido to the community.

“The transfer of this asset will allow Brynamman Lido Ltd to apply for funding via grants that would not be available to the County Council, and we will continue to work with them and provide support along the journey to reopening the lido to the community.”

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Latest recruit to Llandeilo’s Ashmole & Co team ‘converts’ his spare time into being a rugby referee

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Ashmole & Co have scored a try with their newest Trainee Accountant. The firm is delighted to announce that Aled Jones has recently started working for the successful accountancy team in the Llandeilo office.

Aled, who lives in Pontyberem, is a community rugby referee in his spare time. He referees senior rugby games on Saturdays and Junior rugby games on Sundays including cup matches. He is also involved in the Scarlets Cup Final at Parc y Scarlets and the Carmarthenshire cup finals.

Before joining Ashmole & Co Aled was a Personal Banker with Barclays Bank for five years. He studied AAT Level three at Coleg Sir Gar. Aled went to primary school in Pontyberem and secondary school in Ysgol y Gwendraeth.

Day to day with Ashmole & Co, Aled prepares and inputs clients’ sales and purchase invoices onto the accounting software; completes clients’ VAT returns and assists senior members of the team with the preparation of accounts. The most rewarding part of the job for Aled is hearing that the clients are happy.

Welcoming Aled to the team, Ceri Llwyd, Partner in the Llandeilo Ashmole & Co office, said, “We are delighted that Aled has joined our team in Carmarthenshire. He has fitted in well and is a pleasure to work with. I’ve told my rugby mad sons that they have to behave now when they play rugby on a Sunday in case Aled is their referee! It is great that he gives up his spare time to help local rugby clubs in this way.”
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Aled said, “I am grateful to Ashmole and Co, who are one of the most established and largest teams of chartered, certified accountants and auditors in south and west Wales, to give me this opportunity.”

Ashmole & Co offer financial support to a significant number of junior and professional sports teams across south Wales. The Llandeilo office has recently shown its support to Llandeilo RFC by contributing towards new tops for the juniors.

Ceri added, “As a rural firm that works with businesses in the area it is a pleasure for us to be able to lend our support to local sports teams.”

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Llangennech prove too strong for Penclawdd

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LLANGENNECH earned their fourth win in as many matches on Saturday (Oct 22) as they beat Penclawdd 38-10.

Jordan Saunders got the scoring underway with the first try of the game and Thomas Davies added the extras.

Penclawdd then levelled the scoring with a try from Daniel John Guarneri and Marcus Brown added the extras.

It remained 7-7 until half time with conditions proving tricky for both sides.

In the second half, Aaron Howles got the try to put Llangennech ahead but the conversion was missed.

Joseph Hutchings then extended the visitors’ lead with their third try and Davies added the extras to take the score to 7-19.

Penclawdd then responded with a penalty from Brown as the home side looked to get back into the game.

However, Llangennech soon had their fourth try and a bonus point as Howles touched down for his second try of the game and Davies added the extras.

Louis Rees then scored an unconverted try before replacement Hefin Jones went over for Llangennech’s sixth try, converted by Davies.

On Saturday, October 29, Penclawdd travel to Aberystwyth for their second game in the Division 1 Cup.

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