EVRFC: Meet the new boys (1)

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It is with sadness that we find ourselves recording the passing of another stalwart of the club, Ernie Lewis who died on Saturday 25th July, aged 91.

Roy Lewis writes: “Ernie Lewis was our outside half at a special time for the club. The 1950s brought success and recognition and after finishing third in the 1950/1 Welsh Championship, we won it the following season under George Gwynn. We played 39 games, won 31, drew 2 and lost six, with Ernie topping the century in points scored for the third season in succession, an achievement in days when scores were low. His haul of 198 points made him the highest scorer in Welsh rugby in 1951/2, and set a club record that stood for 23 years, until it was broken by his son, Steve.

He did not give up the game when he finished playing, and became a first-class referee. He refereed France v Australia in 1971 in Toulouse and faced a hostile crowd which went wild when he awarded a penalty to the Aussies after their captain Greg Davies was punched and suffered a broken nose. The Wallabies won 13-11 and police escorted them from the dressing rooms to their bus.

On a much happier occasion Ernie was touch-judge at Cardiff when what some consider the greatest game of rugby ever was played there – Barbarians v New Zealand in 1973 – and had the remarkable honour of being the closest man on the pitch to Gareth Edwards as he scored THAT try.

Ernie often came to watch his old club play and was able to see first Steve,  then his grandsons Iestyn, James and Robert wearing the same colours. He was immensely proud that all four represented Wales at age group levels. Ernie played a major role in the club’s success in the 50s and 60s when four Welsh Championships were won. A native of Abertillery he later joined them and, when a 29 year school-master, played against the 1953 All Blacks for Abertillery/Ebbw Vale.”

Everyone at Ebbw Vale RFC extends our deepest sympathy to his family.

The funeral will take place at Gwent Crematorium, Croesyceiliog on Tuesday, 4th August at 2pm.

The WRU has published details of the new Challenge Cup competition, designed to fill the Saturdays when the British and Irish Cup takes place. Ebbw Vale are in the Gwent group with Bedwas, Cross Keys and Newport. It is not yet clear how the semi-finalists will be determined, as there are three groups, but all will be revealed eventually, no doubt.

Ebbw’s fixtures are:

Nov 14 Cross Keys A
Nov 21 Newport H
Dec 12 Bedwas A
Dec 19 Bedwas H
Jan 16 Newport A
Jan 23 Cross Keys H

The eagle-eyed amongst supporters will realise that Ebbw and Bedwas will now meet each other on three successive Saturdays, a bit like a Test Match series.

Hot off the press!

Sep 5 Bridgend A
Sep 12 Newport H
Sep 19 Neath H
Sep 26 Llandovery A
Oct 3 Cardiff H
Oct 10 Cross Keys H
Oct 17 Llanelli A
Oct 24 Carmarthen H
Oct 31 Pontypridd A
Nov 7 Newport A
Nov 28 Aberavon A
Dec 5 Bridgend H
Dec 26 Bedwas H
Jan 2 Neath A
Jan 30 Llandovery H
Feb 13 Cardiff A
Feb 20 Cross Keys A
Mar 5 Llanelli H
Mar 12 Pontypridd H
Mar 26 Bedwas A
Apr 2 Carmarthen A
Apr 23 Aberavon H

We were very saddened to learn, this week, of the death of Jonathan Williams, following a long illness. Jonathan played for us as a  fit, physical and intelligent hooker in the late 70s and early 80s and was captain in 1981-82. He went on the California tour in 1980 but, although captain in 1982 , he was unable to go on the tour to Canada. However, typical of the man, he worked very hard in the preparations. Roy Lewis, who knew him well, said, “Jonathan was one of the nicest men I have ever met.”

We send our deepest sympathies to Jonathan’s family.

The funeral will take place on Thursday 23rd July, at 3pm in St.Mary’s Church, Abergavenny.


Ebbw Vale RFC now has its own TV Channel on YouTube. Currently, it features an interview with new Head Coach Nigel Davies and a look at pre-season training as the boys are put through their paces on Cae Canol. There’ll be new short programmes posted twice every week featuring interviews with players, coaches and management as well as the build up to matches and home match highlights.

You can watch here as well as subscribing to EVRFC TV for regular updates.

David Williams

19 year old David Williams, a fast and skilful ‘back 3’ player arrives at Ebbw Vale having spent the last four seasons at the Leicester Tigers Academy. During this time he featured twice in the prestigious JP Morgan Sevens for the full Tigers squad, as well as featuring in age group trials in England. A talented all round sportsman, David has also played football at County level as well as being a county champion at hurdles for four years.

David will be moving to the Ebbw Vale area at the end of July and is currently commuting to attend pre season training. Although a native of Leicester, David is Welsh qualified through his father who is originally from Pontypridd  and he is coming to Wales to look to develop his rugby career and make a breakthrough into professional rugby over the next few seasons.

Mike Powell has joined Ebbw Vale RFC as Assistant Forwards Coach working in tandem with Ceri Jones. This is Mike’s first coaching position having retired due to injury at the end of last season. 38 year old Powell first came to prominence as a Second Row with Pontypool and went on to feature for Bridgend and the Ospreys (playing in the team that beat Australia) before crossing the border from his Caldicot base where he enjoyed long spells at London Welsh and Moseley in the English Championship enhancing his reputation as a highly skilled forward and model professional. Mike is delighted to be linking with the Steelmen and working with the a renowned pack as he makes the transition from playing to coaching.

It must also be mentioned: he lives next door to Paul ‘Wally’ Walbyoff!

Welcome to our new website! EVRFC has gone through its 5th iteration since it first appeared in 1999; our new website has more photos, graphics and information, but has kept the same approach to regular updates, and news published whenever there’s news to publish. Let us know what you think of the website here.

Ebbw Vale RFC is delighted to announce that experienced director of rugby Nigel Davies will take over from the departing Jason Strange in the role of Head Coach for 2015/16 at Eugene Cross Park.

Deeply entrenched in leading teams at the elite end of the game for more than 30 years, and one of Wales’ most passionate rugby coaches, Davies brings a wealth of experience to the role at Ebbw Vale as a former international centre, Wales coach and Director of Rugby at prestigious professional clubs in both the Celtic League and English Premiership.

Davies also worked as WRU’s Head of Rugby Development in 2007/8 looking after all aspects of Welsh rugby development outside the National Team, including age grade rugby, 7s, community rugby, player and coach development and working with referees.

As a player of undisputed talent he played 498 games for Llanelli becoming one of only 21 players to have scored more than 100 tries for the Scarlets where he also played in a record nine Welsh cup finals – winning six.

Davies enjoyed an equally successful coaching career at the Scarlets both as Attack Coach and then Director of Rugby. During his coaching career in West Wales he achieved an impressive track record including; a top three club ranking in Europe, Heineken Cup semi Finalists in 2000 & 2002, six European quarter-finals, Celtic League Champions, Celtic Cup finalists & Powergen Cup finalists, winners of the Welsh Cup on three occasions and winners of the WRU Challenge Cup.

Commenting on the appointment, Ebbw Vale RFC Chairman Jonathan Jones said: “Nigel has vast experience and knowledge which will be of great benefit to both the players and our young coaches as we look to carry on the positive progress with a team that has brought us success over the past four years.

“We are delighted and excited at he has agreed to join us as Head Coach and take us forward – it shows our ambition as a club and I believe Nigel will do an excellent job in leading the squad and developing rugby success in Blaenau Gwent.”

Speaking about his new role with Ebbw Vale, Nigel Davies said: “I am looking forward to be back working in Welsh club rugby and for a club with a great tradition and close-knit rugby community and with a team that is clearly very passionate, genuine and committed to success.

“I’ve been really impressed by the hunger and drive within Ebbw Vale RFC to push forward on the back of an unprecedented period of success on the field in recent years. The playing staff, coaching team and facilities are first-class and the club has a vision and professional attitude that ranks alongside any top flight club I have been involved with.

“What has struck me already is how united the whole team at Ebbw Vale are both on and off the field with a genuine and committed group of people working hard with the club’s success close to their hearts.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the coaching team and the club’s playing talent to help build on the excellent work Jason Strange has clearly done at Ebbw Vale over the past five years.

“It means a great deal to me personally to have the opportunity to contribute and support success in Welsh rugby and everything our game stands for at its best. I will put all I can into my role with Ebbw Vale with the challenge to take forward the great work already done.”

Davies played 29 times for Wales including the honour of captaining his country and in the 1993/4 season played in the Championship winning Wales team. During the same season he was a key member of the Llanelli team that won the treble of WRU Cup, Welsh League and beat world champions Australia touring team.

His tenure as Director of Rugby at Gloucester in 2012-2014 saw him rejuvenate an underperforming Aviva Premiership team in his first season in charge; leading Gloucester to become most improved team in the English Premiership both in terms of league position and points scored in 2013, reaching a European quarter final and winning JP Morgan 7s in 2013/14.

Nigel has an unprecedented ability in developing talent with more than 40 players he has worked with achieving international honours for both Wales and England over several eras of rugby including George North, Ben Morgan, Rhys Priestland, Jon Davies, Scott Williams, Ken Owens, Morgan Stoddart, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Lee Byrne, Dwayne Peel and Mark Jones. free slots

Club Chairman Jon Jones has released the following statement

“Head Coach Jason Strange’s tenure as Head Coach of Ebbw Vale RFC has come to an end after 5 successful seasons, leading the Steelmen to 4 League titles and the runner up position in the Steelmen’s return to Premiership rugby in the 2014/15 season. Jason leaves Eugene Cross Park for the warmer climes of the WRU Centre of Excellence in the Vale of Glamorgan where he will take up a full time Skills Coaching role after spending the last 6 months performing the role on a part time basis.

During this period Jason led the club in 118 league games winning a phenomenal 103 of those playing an attractive and exciting brand of 15 man rugby that saw some superb tries being scored to the delight of the Steelmen’s ever vocal following. Despite his love of flowing back play, Jason ever the pragmatist was supportive of his forward coaching colleagues who developed the power play at scrum and line out time led expertly by his on field lieutenant Damian Hudd. On a Sunday, Jason will have often have watched the game 3 times as he dissected performance and prepared improvement strategies for the team and individuals. At this point I would also like to mention the support of his wife Amanda and daughter Ashleigh that enabled him to put so much time into making the club successful again.

Whilst many understand the on field success, the backbone of this continued progress has been creating an environment where players, coaches and officials have been continually challenged to improve their performance. Jason has been the driving force and key influencer in this change and has ensured that the culture at the club and foundations built in the last 5 years will enable his successors to inherit an excellent playing and coaching group.

The time and effort that Jason has put into not only the playing side but its wider relationship with schools, colleges and local clubs has ensured that rugby is again growing within the Blaenau Gwent community with Ebbw Vale RFC providing a route to top class semi professional and professional rugby for the aspirational players within the community. This ability to see the full picture of rugby within the community and the clubs important role in this is a further legacy that those remaining at Eugene Cross Park must pick up.

Although it is like losing my right arm, Jason goes with my blessing and that of all at the club ,as he needs the opportunity to take his undoubted coaching talent and test it in the elite game, I will miss his drive, enthusiasm, love of the club and long telephone calls as we have worked together to improve all aspects of the club.I am certain that he will still be a close friend and confidante to the club and myself and will still be seen at many of the Steelmens’ future games as much as his WRU duties allow.

I hope all take the time to thank Jason personally for leaving us in a much better condition than he found us.

The club are working towards making an announcement on its future coaching group for the season 2015/16 within a few days.”

And this is from Jason himself:

“The support from everyone during the last 5 years for myself as coach has been fantastic, its been a magnificent journey for the players and myself and an incredible achievement by everyone at the club, that’s still not really believable. Everyone in the area has been a part of it and we’ve done it together.

My time as head coach is something that I will always look back on in years to come with fondness and great memories. It’s a special club that means a lot to me, a club I watched as a child, the club that gave me an opportunity in the game first as a player and then a coach.

It’s been an enormous privilege to coach Ebbw Vale and I am exceptionally proud of how the team has added to the club’s history during this time. I am also exceptionally proud of how they have developed an extremely professional and enjoyable culture and environment. I want to say a special thank you to all the players who have played during this time, especially to Damien Hudd the long-term captain who has supported me from the very start and has been a model player.

The decision to leave is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly, however I feel it is the right time. It was important to me to leave the club in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so. The quality of this squad and the balance of experience within it, bodes well for continued success on the field, while the off field infrastructure at the club will ensure that the long-term future remains a bright one.This rugby club is now back where it should always be in the top flight of club rugby which, alongside gaining respect back, was always the number 1 objective.

I have loved my time at Ebbw Vale but when an opportunity like this comes round, it’s a professional challenge which is too good to turn down. I’m an ambitious coach and feel this is the right time to take on a challenge that I feel extremely excited about.

I am sure the next coach who comes in at the club will feel the warmth of the people like I have done and I am sure will go on and be successful as well. They will have an incredible group of players to work with, that represent everything you want your team to stand for and a group of supporters who are up there with the best in terms of loyalty. They will have a real genuine, honest group of hard-working coaches and people behind the scenes who will give them every opportunity to succeed.

And they will have directors of the club, and in particular a chairman Jonathon Jones, who will give them all the help he can. I have developed a great working relationship with him and equally a good friendship. We have always been open and honest with each other and that’s what has made this decision extremely difficult. I will miss his support and wise words of encouragement.

Both Ebbw Vale rugby club and myself are about to embark on new chapters, and will undoubtably face challenges along the way. But with continued hard work, commitment and a shared belief I have no doubt that success will continue to follow for both of us.”

Jason Strange

August 15th Moseley (away) 3:00 pm
August 22nd Pontypool (away) 2:30 pm
August 28th London Welsh (home) 7:30pm

We are very grateful to our friends at Ebbw Vale Cricket Club and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council for making it possible for us to host this prestigious fixture.

Finally, the Fosters National Sevens will take place at Cardiff Arms Park on August 30th.