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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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Ammanford well beaten by Port Talbot

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AMMANFORD slipped closer to the foot of Premier One with a high-scoring defeat to Port Talbot Town at The New Mansel.

Ammanford were put in to bat on a glorious afternoon and made hay while the sun shone with an opening partnership of 61 between Matthew Fisher and Alun Evans.

When Fisher departed for 40, Daniel Evans took over and his partnership with his skipper took the score to 155 before Roberts was caught on 49.

When Evans fell for an anchoring 86, the Davies brothers, Rhodri (28no) and Rhys (22no) saw out the Ammanford innings, taking their total to a formidable 259 for 4.

Formidable it may have been, but Port Talbot’s batsmen were up to the challenge.

Glamorgan’s Nick Selman led the charge before he was dismissed by Fisher for 47.

The main partnership of 123, however, came between Joseph Voke (84) and Matthew Thompson (74no).

There were still three overs remaining when Port Talbot cruised past the Ammanford total for the loss of 3 wickets.

Things won’t get much easier for Ammanford next week when Newport visit the Park.

Ammanford seconds v Ynystawe

Ammanford seconds continued their miserable sequence of defeats with a 4 wicket loss to Ynystawe at the Park.

A promising start from Eirian Morgan (13) and David Lumb (17) preceded a middle order collapse which was rescued by a terrific individual performance from captain Jamie Evans, whose 76 helped Ammanford reach 167 all out.

Ynystawe’s middle order by contrast kept the scoreboard ticking over, an undefeated partnership between Rowan Evans (31no) and Arun Maurya (26no) taking them past Ammanford’s total with four wickets and 16 overs to spare.

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Ammanford march on in Welsh Cup

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AMMANFORD progressed smoothly into the next round of the Welsh Cup by beating Pembroke Dock by 91 runs at the Park on Sunday (Jun 6).

The Pembrokeshire League Division 2 side were playing in the competition for the first time in 15 years and were excited for the game.

Ammanford batted first and amassed 161 for 9. Their main scorers were Owen Davies (36), Matthew Davies (21) and Rhodri Davies (24).

Nick Daley finished with excellent figures of 4-23 while George Smith took 2-28.

Pembroke Dock were never up with the required rate, and despite a defiant 34 from Billy Wood, they were dismissed for 92.

Tom Grimwood added 10 and Archie Hillier-Wood added 11 but it wasn’t to be for the Dock.

Llyr Morgan and Iestyn Jones took three wickets each, backed by Matthew Fisher with 2 for 4.

Next Sunday, Ammanford are away to Carmarthen Wanderers in the SWCA T20 Knockout, whilst their Third XI play at the Park in the Intermediate Cup.

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Walters’ century sees off Ammanford seconds

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CARMARTHEN Wanderer’s Leighton Walters scored a century to help his side to victory over Ammanford seconds on Saturday (May 22).

Ammanford’s first XI saw their game rained off at the Park but the seconds were able to play twenty miles away in Carmarthen.

It wasn’t to be Ammanford’s day though as they lost by 115 runs.

Batting first, Wanderers amassed an impressive 218 for 3 in their 40 overs.

The highlight was undoubtedly a century from opener Leighton Walters which included 12 fours and 4 sixes.

He was well supported by Andrew Edwards (45no) and Liam Rogers (22).

Ammanford had no reply, with only three of their batsmen creeping into double figures.

They were dismissed for 103 inside 30 overs.

Kai Summers (4-17) and Steffan Jones (3-13) were the home team’s chief wicket takers.

Next week, Ammanford’s firsts entertain early league leaders Cardiff at the Park.

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