11 May 2021 / Club News

Old Penarthians Youth XV 2021/22

The Old Penarthians Mini & Junior Section started in 2010 and this season will see the players from those early years mature into the first Old Penarthians Youth XV since 1994.

The team that started as U8s in the 2011/12 season features five boys that are still with the club and will form part of the new Youth XV.  The lads that have survived the coaching of Darren Harris and Richie Coburn in the last few years are Jack Chandler, James Reynolds, Rhys Stout, Elliot Salmon and Ieuan Harris.

Since those early days they have been joined by other players and the squad that will represent the club at U17and U18 youth level has over 40 players.  This includes approximately 25 players at U16 who, whilst playing at their own age group level, will enhance the team during the season. These will include Dafydd Jones, Charlie Rainbird and Matty Young who have all represented the Vale U15s.

The Club is aware that this is a relatively young group of players and the fixture list will reflect their experiences with matches against other clubs in a similar position.

The coaching of the team will be headed by Jeff Norman supported by the Club’s Director of Rugby, Stuart Clarke. Both of whom are WRU Level 3 qualified coaches. Peter Bennett and Nigel Edmunds have offered support and the current 1st XV coaches Jake Thomas and Luke Ford will also take an active role in the development of the players as they progress their careers towards senior rugby.

Darren Harris is to continue his involvement with the lads he has nurtured as the Team Manager and he will seek support from Richie Coburn, Les and Jac Hughes, Paul Galsworthy, Gareth Jones, Stephen Fifield and Katie Chandler.

Off-field support will be offered by Jon Vaughan as Fixture Secretary and Stuart Gunnarsson will lend his support as a mentor and provide valued experiences from his own career.

For Jon and Stuart it is a return to Youth team rugby that started for them in the late 1980s when the last Old Penarthians Youth XV represented the Club.  The section started in earnest in the 1988/89 season when the captain was Gareth Nilson. The records show that Paul Marsh and Terry Paterson led the team to 16 wins in their 26 outings which included participation in the East District Cup final played at Cardiff Arms Park against Llandaff.  Unfortunately, the match was lost by 16 points to 9.

Over the next six seasons the team was coached at times by Alan Vaughan, Neil Sadler and Phil Nedin, with special mentions to Tommy Evans and Ivan Griffiths for their support, and In May 1992 the team won the Cardiff & District 7-a-side Plate competition.

Many of the players that were members of those youth teams went on to represent the senior teams at Old Penarthians and Gareth Shaw, Ben House and Chris Dacey were all 1st XV captains.  Stuart Gunnarsson, whilst not featuring as a 1st XV captain played over 150 times for the senior team and is the current Veterans XV captain at the Club.

This team is also a valued part of Old Penarthians as it provides a competitive team environment for those players coming to the end (or past the end) of their careers where the emphasis is on enjoyment as much as the result.

It is hoped that the new Youth XV will get as much enjoyment out of their careers and to start them on their way there will be two training sessions combining both the U16 and U17 age groups on Saturday 15th and Saturday 29th May starting at 2.00pm. Afterwards the plans for the season will be outlined in detail to both the players and parents and weather permitting a social event will follow.

All existing players and any new players that are U19 are welcome to the sessions to ‘give us a try’ and consider a great sporting experience at Old Penarthians.

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