Dowlais RFC | Youth Team Under 18 17 - 22 Old Penarthians RFC | Youth Under 18

Match Report
08 September 2021 / Team News

Youth XV v Dowlais Youth match report

Dowlais Top (north of Merthyr Tydfil) was the unlikely location of one of the most significant events in the recent history of Old Penarthians RFC last Saturday 28th August 2021.

For the first time since April 1994, the Club fielded a Youth XV in a pre-season friendly v Dowlais Youth and what a day it turned out to be. The sun was shining and the sky was blue (many supporters who had made this trek before in various capacities could never recall having seen the top of the mountain before) and there could not have been a more dramatic stage for the game which resulted in a 24-19 victory for the Old Pens.

Much planning and preparation has gone into getting to this stage, not least of which was the formation of a Mini & Junior section all those years ago which has seen players come through the age-groups to get to this point.  Groups have made it to the Under 17 grade before but the Club has never quite managed the transition to Youth.

Indeed, there were several players who turned out on Saturday who joined the newly formed Mini & Junior section as 6 and 7 year olds, including Rhys Stout, James Reynolds and Jack Chandler. There are other ‘originals’ who were unavailable Saturday who will be a part of the squad in this inaugural season such as Ieuan Harris and Elliot Salmon.

Since being appointed Mini & Junior Chair in 2017, it has always been Jeff Norman’s stated ambition to provide a focus on the older junior age-groups to secure and retain sufficient players to enable the Club to re-establish a Youth XV, and that has been achieved with great support from members of the Club Management, coaches and so many others.

The Old Pen’s ex-senior men’s coach also expressed a desire to head up the coaching team of the Youth set-up when it was established and that is now the case. Last year’s Under 16s & Under 17s joined the ranks of the Youth as one for the forthcoming 2021/22 season, with no competitive rugby possible since March 2020. Players from both age-groups have committed to the Youth, as have their coaches Richie Coburn, Steve Fifield (U17s), Darran Harris and Paul Galsworthy (U16s) who are all part of the new set-up.

The former age-groups have gelled together in an extensive, excellent training programme designed and delivered by Director of Rugby Stuart Clarke with the assistance of not only the aforementioned, but also Vale U15s coach Nigel Edmunds, Senior men’s coach Jake Thomas, Senior Women’s (Mariners) player Emma White with her boxercise class and even Social Club Chairman Mel Jones who has put the boys through their paces on kettle bells in the gym; a real Club effort.

The game itself was a keenly-contested affair, with Dowlais setting out their stall in pummelling the Old Pen’s try-line for the first 10 minutes, but the defence was resilient and determined and each and every surge was resisted. The away team worked their way into the game with a series of excellent attacking plays from scrum, linesout and broken play, putting into practice the work done in training which proved very effective, but the half-time score remained, nonetheless, scoreless.

The honour of scoring the first try for the fledgling Old Pens Youth XV went to prop Neo Sammut, with other tries added in a very busy second half by Dafydd Jones (2) and James Reynolds, with scrum half Jac Jones adding two conversions. Dowlais proved excellent hosts and provided stern opposition, scoring 3 tries and 2 conversions of their own.

The Youth XV plays its next and last pre-season friendly on Saturday (4th September) when local rivals Dinas Powys Youth will be the visitors and a 2.30pm kick-off at Cwrt-y-Vil is scheduled. It is hoped many of the players and coaches who were involved in the Youth team in 1994 might be in attendance to support the new team.

Players Fixture player info not published.

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