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John helps coaches adapt to Law Trials

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Geraint John: Helping Principality coaches to develop players to adapt to the laws

WRU Elite Coach Development Manager Geraint John is working to support Premiership coaches in their role to develop quality players and improve the brand of Principality Premiership rugby. 

Since joining the Welsh Rugby Union in September, John has conducted a statistical analysis of the League, in particular looking at the effect of the Law Trials currently in place in the division, and is looking to extend that study by utilising GPS equipment on players to assess running speed and intensity. He is in the process of engaging with the Premiership coaches and has invited them to an on-going series of coach development opportunities, starting with a coach development evening in February when they will have the opportunity to observe the Wales Under 20 coaches and players preparing for Wales v France.

In conjunction with John and National Performance Manager Gethin Watts, the three WRU international skills coaches Jason Strange, Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman have also worked closely with the coaches and squads of the Regional Premiership Select XVs in recent months to help the coaches, many of whom have stepped up to the British & Irish Cup coaching teams from Principality Premiership clubs such as Gareth Wyatt of Pontypridd and the Blues Regional Select XV and Dai Flanagan of Llanelli and the Scarlets Regional Select XV.

John said: “The Principality Premiership is a well-trodden route to regional and international rugby. We have seen that in the past with the likes of Jamie Roberts, Andrew Coombs, Rhys Priestland and James Hook, and more recently Tyler Morgan from Newport, James Davies from Carmarthen Quins and Jarrod Evans, Dillon Lewis and Liam Belcher who have come through the ranks at Pontypridd and are now making their mark with the Blues.

“It’s a critical pathway for players to develop into regional and international players,” added John, “and therefore it’s important we do as much as we can to develop the quality and brand of rugby played at this level and support the coaches in delivering that.”

The analysis found that the average number of tries per match over that period was 6.4 which is an increase of 0.9 per match compared to last season’s average, and 1.4 compared to 2013/14.

It also found that the number of penalties per game has increased to 25.1 from 23.6 last season and from 22.4 in season 2013/14, but the number of yellow cards per game is fairly consistent at 1.8.

The number of line-outs per game has gone up to 29.9 from 25.4 last season and 24.8 in 2013/14 but the number of line-out drives has stayed fairly constant. The key difference is in teams’ decision-making after being awarded a penalty in the attacking half. Teams now kick to touch 65% of the time compared to 30% last season and 34% in 2013/14. The option of kicking for goal has decreased dramatically to 12% from 44% last season and 51% in 2013/14, while the shape of the game for half backs has stayed fairly constant.

John said, “The analysis is not conclusive with regards to any clear advantages or disadvantage of the Law Trials at this time. While, there are more tries, there are more line-outs so the impact on creating a wider, more attacking game is not clear at this stage. In my view, it’s more about working closely with the coaches to ensure we are playing the type of game that best serves our purposes in developing players for the game and to that end we are looking to trial GPS technology to gauge intensity and running speed during Premiership matches.

“We have the advantage over the next couple of years that the Premiership will be ring-fenced so we can perhaps look at how best we can improve the product for the benefit of the players, coaches and supporters too without the pressure of relegation.

“I’m certainly buoyed by the enthusiasm of the Premiership coaches and clubs to better themselves and as a result, their players and I look forward to collaborating more closely with them as we move forward.”

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Ammanford upset Penybont to reach MG Cup quarter finals

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Report by Ian Parfitt

AMMANFORD produced arguably the shock of the third round in the MG Nathaniel Cup with a 2-1 victory at Penybont, who currently sit third in the Cymru Premier League, on Tuesday night (Sept 20).

Penybont started the game well and looked dangerous with ex Ammanford player Kai Whitmore calling the shots.

Ammanford however were also playing some neat football themselves and this was quickly becoming a competitive contest.

Ammanford took the lead in the 28th minute when Brett Enoch took advantage of a moment of calamity in the Penybont defence to fire home.

As expected Penybont increased the pressure on the Ammanford goal in search of an equaliser but Ammanford held firm to go into the interval ahead.

Kyle Marsh in particular having a fine game in the Ammanford goal. Ammanford fans would have been expecting a long 45 minutes after the break but it only took a minute for Penybont to find the equaliser, Mael Davies scoring with a firm header.

Penybont were hungry for more goals and looked especially dangerous from the flanks. The Ammanford defence, who were superb throughout held firm under a barrage of high balls into the box.

Ammanford were also keen to get a second and looked dangerous on the counter attack, both Jordan Langley and Callum Silcox going agonisingly close to restoring the visitors’ lead.

The Ammanford defence continued to form a formidable wall at the back which Penybont were unable to breach.

This fantastic rearguard action was rewarded in the 81st minute when Callum Thomas scored what turned out to be the winner for Ammanford, running through on goal and producing a composed finish to slot the ball past Penybont keeper Alex Pennock.

Ammanford players continued to put their bodies on the line to preserve the lead, epitomised by Tom Pratt who took one on the head in the six yard box.

Lee Trundle spurned a glorious chance to make the game safe for Ammanford with a couple of minutes remaining but it mattered not as the final whistle produced jubilant scenes in the away camp.

Ammanford progress to the Fourth round on what was a glorious night for the club.

Photos by Lawrence Molloy
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Strong Ammanford performance seals Cup win over Whitland

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AMMANFORD got their Division 1 Cup campaign off to an excellent start on Saturday (Sept 17) as they beat Whitland 42-13.

Ammanford built up a 17-3 lead and increased that further to 8-29 before pulling away in the closing stages.

Geraint Jones scored a penalty for Whitland and unconverted tries from Gino Setaro and Lewis Gibby followed.

Captain Alex Davies was named as Ammanford’s man of the match as he lead his side to a bonus point win.

The scrum half was among the try scorers as were Morgan Plimmer, Rhodri Jones, Liam Smith, Carwyn Richards, Mathew Lemon and Tiaan Evans.

Ryan Williams added four conversions and one penalty for the visitors.

The next round of Cup fixtures is scheduled for October 15. Ammanford host Newcastle Emlyn while Whitland travel to Tondu.

Ammanford return to action in League 1 West Central on Saturday, September 24 as they host Birchgrove.

Whitland are also back in league action in League 1 West as they visit Pembroke.

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Howell’s strike takes the points for Cwm

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CWMAMMAN United earned their first three points of the season with an impressive all round performance as they overcame Cardiff Darconians through a sublime Gwion Howell finish at Grenig park on Saturday (Sept 17).

Cwm started on the front foot and their passing and movement was excellent and they twice came close early with Gwion Howell clipping the outside of the post while Sion Dafydd Williams pounced on a back pass but could just not quite get enough leverage on his attempt.

They then saw a 25th min goal by Williams ruled out for a tight offside. With Charlie Davies and Scott Jewell having strong games in the middle of the park Cwm looked the likeliest to score but there was a real scare when a defensive slip required a superb save from Kai Rees in the Cwm goal to keep it goalless.

Kyle Ashford and Keiran Richards continued to run hard at the Dracs defence causing problems but the first half remained goalless.

The strong second half push back that Cwm expected from the Cardiff side didn’t materialise and Cwm continued to have the better of the play. Grant Rees and Callum Dougal were strong at the heart of the defence while Leon Coucher and the ever threatening Cory Saunders were launching attacks from out wide.

Eventually the goal came when some neat interplay saw Howell with his back to goal and the ball at his feet. A superb turn moved the ball to one side and he then fired it across the keeper to the opposite corner..

Great celebrations before Cwm immediately settled determined to see this one through. With Davies continuing to push his team forward and subs Alex Giardelli and Harrison Thomas stretching the Dracs side Cwm saw it through without too much worry.

An excellent performance of which manager Paul Lewis said: “Great to get that first win with the boys who applied our team plan superbly today and they really deserved that result.”

Cwm now look forward to another challenge as they travel to play near neighbours Garden village on Friday evening (Sept 23).

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