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Jenny rides the refereeing wave

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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.

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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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