This article, written by Roy ‘REL’ Lewis, appeared in the match day magazine for Ebbw’s home match with Llandovery on January 30th, 2016.
GRAHAM POWELL – OUR FIRST INTERNATIONAL
In March 1957 Ebbw Vale celebrated when the Welsh selectors announced the team to play Ireland at the Arms Park. We had lost to England and Scotland and changes were called for, one of them was centre Graham Powell who had shown outstanding form in a successful Ebbw Vale side. He was our first capped player and one of our greatest centres.
Former player and Chairman of the club Allan Foster was among many saddened at the news of Graham’s death at the age of 83 but has many happy memories of him. “Graham Powell lived opposite me in Duffryn Road, Waunlwyd and was my boyhood hero. He went to Ebbw Vale Grammar School and Bristol University and went on to work in the petrol industry with Shell where he made quite a name for himself before moving to Total Oil where he became the top man in the UK.
“I remember he came to our Centenary Dinner in March 1980 and arrived in a chauffer driven car! He stayed in the Manor Hotel, Crickhowell where the Dinner was held. He told me how much he enjoyed such a memorable evening.
“Graham first played alongside Peter Clubb in the centre and when Peter went to Wigan he then formed a strong partnership with Dai Barrett from Blaina. His shoulder was first dislocated by a tackle in an Ebbw Vale game at Pontypool and he continued to have shoulder trouble after that. He would certainly have played more games for Wales had it not been for his shoulder and he retired fairly early at about 28 years of age. He was a charming man who was part of a great Ebbw Vale team in the Fifties.”
Graham Powell was a local man, born in Waunlwyd, educated in Ebbw Vale, played his first senior game for Cwm and finally was capped by Wales. Apart from his rugby feats, fellow pupils in the Grammar School remember his all-round athleticism, his academic qualities and perhaps above all his personality and as Allan Foster has said, his charm.
An interesting look back at Graham’s time at Ebbw Vale County School, written by Eric Smith, can be accessed on the Ebbw Vale County Grammar School website, here.
Table toppers Llandovery visit Eugene Cross Park this Saturday afternoon (2:30) and Ebbw know this is a very significant one for their hopes of making the play-offs. Just 7 points separate the top 6, and Ebbw are currently 3 points off a top 3 spot, but will be wary of a Drovers side that put 50 unanswered points on them at Church Bank eary this season.
The Ebbw line up is:
15 Daniel Haymond, 14 David Williams, 13 Nathan Preece, 12 Iain Smerdon, 11 Jared Rosser; 10 David Langdon, 9 Christopher Thomas; 1 Ross Jones, 2 Mathew Williams, 3 Gethin Robinson; 4 Damien Hudd (Captain), 5 Ashley Sweet; 6 Rhys Clarke, 7 Ronny Kynes, 8 Ethan Doyle. Bench: 16 Joseph Franchi, 17 Robert Sevenoaks, 18 Ian George, 19 Joseph Bartlett, 20 Cameron Regan, 21 David Jones, 22 Jordan Howells,
23 Christopher Levesley.
The British and Irish Cup comes to Eugene Cross Park this Saturday, January 23rd, when a “Gwent Premiership Select XV” play Connacht Eagles, kicking off at 2 pm. This is an ‘all-pay’ game, and admission prices are £10 for adults, £5 concessions and under 16s go free.
The team is: Llywarch Ap Myrddin (Newport RFC), George Gasson, Connor Edwards (Dragons Academy/ Bedwas), Ross Wardle (Dragons), Aled Brew (Dragons), Josh Prosser (Cross Keys), Owen Davies (Dragons/ Newport RFC); Hugh Gustafson © (Dragons), Rhys Buckley (Dragons), Lloyd Fairbrother (Dragons), Scott Andrews (Dragons/ Cross Keys), Adam Brown (Newport RFC), Scott Matthews (Cross Keys), James Benjamin (Dragons), Harri Keddie (Dragons/ Ebbw Vale).
Replacements: Luke Garrett (Dragons/ Cross Keys), Leon Brown (Dragons Academy/ Cross Keys), Josh Skinner (Dragons Academy/ Cross Keys), Andrew Waite (Bedwas), Owain Leonard (Dragons Academy/ Cross Keys), Barney Nightingale (Dragons/ Newport RFC), Aaron Warren (Dragons).
Due to adverse weather, and having already had to postpone the game away at Newport, the Challenge Cup game this evening, Wednesday, 20th January, will now be played at the all weather facility at Ystrad Mynach, kicking off at 8pm. Entry is free for season ticket holders and £8/£5 for adults and concessions.
Be aware there is no catering at the Ystrad Mynach facility but there are a couple of pubs in the immediate vicinity. Below the address of the Centre of Sporting Excellence :-
The team is Chris Levesley, David Williams, Nathan Preece, Iain Smerdon, Jared Rosser; Simon Veall, Tom Edwards; Ian George (capt), Joe Franchi, Robert Sevenoaks; Rhys Clarke, Daniel Horler; Cameron Regan, Dawid Rubasniak, Ethan Doyle.
Bench: Mathew Williams, Ross Jones, Gethin Robinson, Damien Hudd, Ronny Kynes, Dai Jones, Dai Langdon, Daniel Haymond.
Many thanks to Newport Gwent Dragons, Abergavenny RFC, Oakdale RFC and Nantyglo RFC for their support in permiting players to us for this fixture.
Wing Owen Williams has decided to leave the club after limited game opportunities this season, and has joined local rivals Newport. Owen joined the club in the summer of 2014 from Pontypridd, played a major role in the club’s strong performance on our return to Premiership rugby and aided our transition from Championship rugby with his experience. Owen has been highly professional throughout his time at the club and we wish this highly likeable man all the best for the remainder of his rugby career
Also departing the Steelmen is young tight head prop Luke Leddington. Luke will switch to Newbridge in order to gain the consistent game time and training regime that he needs to progress at this stage of his carer. We fully expect to see Luke progress and return to challenge for a first team starting spot in the future.
Ebbw Vale will make their first trip in 20 years to Newcastle Emlyn in the 2nd round of the Swalec Cup. The game is to be played on the weekend of February 6th.
The draw in full is:
Newcastle Emlyn v Ebbw Vale
Beddau/Bridgend v Cross Keys
Newport/Carmarthen v Pontypool/Bedwas
Llanelli v Narberth/Merthyr
Llandovery v Newbridge
Pontypridd v Bridgend Athletic
Neath/Bargoed v Cardiff
RGC 1404 v Aberavon
Ebbw Vale will now not visit Newport for the Fosters Challenge Cup tie on Saturday as the Black and Ambers will face carmarthen in their Swalec Cup match, postponed from last Sunday. Instead, we will visit Newport on Tuesday, February 2nd, kick off to be confirmed.
Please note that the kick off for the home game against Pontypridd (March 12th) has been moved to 1:30pm to avoid a clash with the England v Wales match that kicks off at 4pm in Twickenham.
Ebbw Vale will now play Cardiff at the Arms Park on the evening of February 12th, kicking off at 7:30 pm. The game has been brought forward from the Saturday afternoon as it would have clashed with the Wales v Scotland international match next door.
There is believed to be no truth in the rumour that the Scottish Rugby Union declined the WRU’s offer to move their game to the Friday night.
Nigel Davies has selected his team to take on Neath at the Gnoll on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 2:30.
Dan Haymond, David Williams, Nathan Preece, Iain Smerdon, Jared Rosser; Dai Langdon, Chris Thomas; Ian George, Joe Franchi, Gethin Robinson; Damien Hudd (capt), Rhys Clarke; Cameron Regan, Ronny Kynes, Luke Crocker.
Bench: Mathew Williams, Ross Jones, Lloyd Bridges, Dawid Rubasniak, Ethan Doyle, Dai Jones, Chris Levesley, Jordan Howells.
The bench features 17 year old Dawid Rubasniak, the first of Jason Strange’s Ebbw Fawr Welsh Cup Final team to be part of an Ebbw Vale league squad; he has also recently joined the Dragons Academy. Scrum half Dai Jones is also on the bench, on permit from Bedwas, the club he joined from Ebbw in the close season. Many thanks to our friends at Bedwas for their help.
Neath have not been enjoying the best of seasons, losing 12 and drawing 1 of their 13 league matches. However, their Boxing Day draw with Aberavon will have boosted their confidence and Ebbw will need to be on top form if they are to secure the season’s double over the All Blacks.