Red Dragon Sports Marketing link up with Steelmen

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Ebbw Vale RFC Chairman Jon Jones is delighted to confirm that Gareth Howells and Red Dragon Sports Management will continue to work with Ebbw Vale RFC after initial success last season. Gareth will provide additional services in the management and development of Social Media content across all official club channels. This role will enhance the work of Gareth and Red Dragon Sports Management in the key areas of Sponsorship and Marketing.
Jon said, “With working together last season being successful, we as a club were keen to build on the relationship with Gareth and Red Dragon Sports Management and look forward to continued success in the coming seasons.”

Gareth Howells director of Red Dragon Sports Marketing commented, “I am delighted and honoured to be working in partnership with Ebbw Vale RFC.  After working at Premiership and Regional level in commercial positions I have expert knowledge on advising clubs, teams and individuals on their sponsorship and marketing.  I know how difficult it is at premiership level to gain sponsors and how vital it is to look after sponsors.

I was approached by club chairman Jonathan Jones to gain new commercial partners for the club and increase new packages to sell as well as advise on the marketing strategy.

The new packages will focus on increasing commercial revenue and give a clear strategic direction to help steer sponsorship strategy, action and measurement.

We will aim to work more with the community, schools and local businesses and, whilst we understand the tough times people and businesses are going through with Covid-19, we need to plan for the near future and be ready for when the first ball is kicked.

To do this we are looking to attract local and national companies who we can introduce to a passionate club and supporter base who are going to do all they can to succeed in the league this coming season with the Ebbw Addict fans behind the side.

The club has numerous packages available, please get in touch if you wish to promote your business alongside Ebbw Vale RFC ‘ The Steelmen’ please contact marketing@evrfc.co.uk 

Ebbw Vale RFC is currently looking for an enthusiastic person with a graphic design and videographer background to help the club design graphics to use across our social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and Instagram. The person would also be able to create short videos to assist with promoting the club such as behind the scenes footage, interviews and promo video.

The position will be voluntary but a great chance for a person to gain experience with one of Wales’s premier rugby sides, the role will suit someone who is passionate about rugby and looking to gain experience and living in the area.

Graphics will be need to be produced as and when needed, sometimes very quickly due to announcements being made and you will report to the commercial and marketing manager. If you are interested in discussing the role please contact marketing@evrfc.co.uk

Lewis Roberts on the backs
“I am delighted that we have been able to secure the playing services of the backs announced. I feel that, as a club, we have an exciting and versatile group of backs, many of whom are experienced Indigo Welsh Premiership players. With the quality of player we have to choose from, match day selection will be hugely competitive and will drive the players to ensure that their standards within training and matches are consistently high. I am excited to work with the group for the coming season and can’t wait for us to get back to the training field, once it’s safe for everyone to do so.”
Greg Woods on the full squad
“I am pleased with the squad we have put together for the up and coming season. We wanted to assemble a squad that provides strong competition for match day spots and players that can cope cope with the demanding week ly nature of the Indigo Welsh Premiership. We wanted to bulk up our back 5 in the pack and make sure we had plenty of Premiership experience in the back division.I believe we have done this with the players we have signed for season 20/21. I would also like to thank the club officials for the hard work behind the scenes which has enabled us to increase the off field resources along with assembling a quality squad of players. We want to build on the momentum post Christmas and we are certainly going in the right direction with some exciting talent in the squad, we are sure that they will make a real impact in the league.
No one knows when we will start, but we will be ready for when rugby activity is allowed and permitted. I can’t wait to see this squad grow together over the coming season. Stay safe and Ilook forward to seeing you all at the club as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Jordan Thomas 
 The 20 year old winger makes the switch from Pontypool RFC as he felt he wanted to experience the Indigo Welsh Premiership sooner rather than later to continue his progress as a player. Jordan, known as ToJo, has over 50 games to his name at Pontypool and has been a frequent try scorer as they’ve dominated the Championship in the last few seasons. The coaching staff have been well aware of his ability for a number of years and are looking forward to working with a player that several shrewd judges see as one of the best young backs outside of the pro game.
Jordan said, “My ambition has always been to play Premiership rugby and I was over the moon when Ebbw Vale came to me with the offer. I have worked with Greg in the past and he is a coach who I have looked up to and am looking forward to being coached by again. I look forward to the challenges ahead and playing in front of the Ebbw supporters.”

Scott Gibson
The club is delighted to add the experience and all round ability of Scott Gibson to the team. Scott joins the club from Brecon RFC but is another with significant experience in the Indigo Welsh Premiership having played for Llandovery, Neath and Cardiff in the league. He has also played in LV and Celtic Cups for the Blues as well as for the Scarlets in the Singla 7’s. Scott brings with him all the key skills required for the 9 shirt with his strength being in utilising his pace to great effect from set pieces and open play.
Scott said, “I’m delighted to have signed with Ebbw Vale and I am really looking to getting back into the swing of things and hope that the supporters enjoy my style of play. It would be great to see us pushing for honours in the coming season and I am really looking forward to becoming part of the club and getting to know you all. Stay safe.”

You can watch Scott in action here.

Ebbw Addicts favourite Dan Haymond will once again look to retain control of the Steelemen 15 shirt as he has done for quite a few seasons! Dan enters his 10th term at the club and is very close to 200 appearances in the red, green and white and all at the club are looking forward to him reaching this milestone in the coming season. His solid defence and attacking ability have played a big part in the success of the Steelmen over the last 9 seasons and his willingness to step up to goal kicking duties last season, after not performing this role for a long time, displayed his character and commitment to the club.
Mike Powell, having come to live in Ebbw Vale last summer, joined the club in December from Bridgend, bringing eight years experience playing at this level. Supporters quickly took to his excellent defensive work and his ability to split defences with a step and pace.  The clearest example of this was in the home win v Pontypridd with a searing break from 15 metres inside the Ebbw half that saw him deliver a fine pass that ended in a decisive try.
The recipient of the pass in that game was fellow wing Aaron Grabham and he returns to the Steelmen looking to have more opportunities to display his attacking prowess after the mid winter wind and rain took its toll on back play. Aaron is another with several seasons in the Premiership who has scored tries at every club he has played for. Allied to this attacking prowess his ability to make the correct defensive decisions under pressure helped the Ebbw defence to regain its reputation for being very difficult to break down.

The centre positions will be hotly contested with the experienced Dom Franchi being joined by Paul King, Ryan Evans and Ethan Phillips.

Dom, a former Wales U20’s international, enters his 5th season with well over 100 appearances  as a Steelman and will be looking to perform strongly under the Captaincy of twin brother Joe. Dom is a powerful carrier and tackler who gives his all every time he puts the shirt on.
Paul King, a lively character on and off the field, enters his third season at the club where he quickly endeared himself to the Ebbw Addicts with his speed, powerful running and tackling in both the wing and centre positions
Ryan Evans joined the club during December from Premiership rivals Bridgend and made a mark through his skilful running and distribution. Ryan is also a quality kicker and the Ebbw Addicts got treated to a long range penalty in the draw at Llandovery in the wind and torrential rain. Although Ryan has a preference for the 13 shirt he is also comfortable in the 10 and 15 shirts, providing options for the coaches and competition across several back positions
The youngest of the quartet is Ebbw Fawr product Ethan Phillips who impressed as he quickly adapted to the high standard of Premiership Rugby after a couple of great seasons with Brynmawr RFC. Ethan, who performed strongly in both 10 and 12 shirts, is another who will provide a kicking option both from the tee and out of hand. It is also pleasing to note that Ethan is one of 3 Ebbw Fawr School team that reached the Schools finals who are regulars with the Steelmen, forwards Joel Harries and Dawid Rubasniak being the others.

Matthew Flanagan enters his third season with the Steelmen following several years at Llanelli RFC. Matthew performed strongly last season to take a firm grip on the No 9 shirt by the end of the season and will be looking to continue this strong form in 20/21.

He will be partnered by a a pair of experienced operators in the 10 shirt in Rhys Jones and Lewis Williams. Rhys quickly settled back into life at ECP after a half season spell with fellow Heads of the Valley team Merthyr RFC. His experience and game control, along with his deadly goal kicking, will be essential as the Indigo Welsh Premiership continues to become more competitive.

A strong challenge for the position will come from Lewis Williams who has well over a 100 Premiership appearances with the majority being at Pontypridd RFC. Lewis will be looking for an injury free season with the Steelmen after being hit with a groin injury after joining in November 2019, and is another with a great deal of goal kicking prowess.

 

Head Coach Greg Woods has commented on the group of forwards who will take the Steelmen into next season. He said, “I am really pĺeased with the make up of the forward pack this year. It’s a fantastic blend of young and experienced players. It’s been an aim of ours to increase the physical size and ball carrying capability of the pack and I believe we have done that this spring. We want to create a really competitive environment where players will have to  train at match day intensity to warrant their selection. The physical  size, competition for starting spots and the overall mobility of the forwards we have will stand us in good stead in the premiership, where we face different playing environments every week. As a group of coaches we cant wait to work with the squad in pre-season”.

26 year old Tight Head prop Scott Evans joins the club from Pontypool RFC and prior to this spent several seasons in the Premiership playing for Cross Keys RFC where he came under the influence of Steelmen supremo Greg Woods. Scott will bring with him a solid scrummaging ability and is known as a mobile and powerful ball carrier. A product of Oakdale RFC he will hope to enjoy the success and longevity of the last Oakdale product in the Steelmen front row, Mathew ‘Chunky‘ Williams. Scott has also played a number of games with the Dragons Celtic Cup team.

Scott said, “Playing back in the Indigo Welsh Premiership has always been an ambition of mine and I am looking forward to a big pre-season to show what I can do and push for the number three jersey. I spoke to a few of the Ebbw lads and they said it is a good club on and off the field and I am excited to get started and progress at the club.”

 

Second row forward Kyle Evans comes to the Steelmen from Ystrad Rhondda having been a key member of the team that won promotion from Division 1 and has consolidated with solid performances in the Championship. Kyle will provide line out prowess and a powerful tight game. Kyle said, “After three successful seasons with Ysrad Rhondda, lI’m delighted to be signing for an established Indigo Welsh Premiership  club like Ebbw Vale. I’m very excited at the challenge ahead and can’t wait to get to start pre-season training with the club.”

22 year old back row forward Scott Parsons has been highly recommended to the club as a dynamic and powerful carrier from the 6 or 8 position. Scott joins the club from the Bristol based Old Redcliffians and will add his skills to what will be a highly competitive back 5 roster. His CV includes Somerset County U18 and U20 along with Bristol Academy and ‘A‘ League experience.

Scott told us, “I’m really pleased to be signing for Ebbw Vale RFC for the coming season, and looking forward to a new challenge within a more professional environment. I’m hoping to develop all aspects of my rugby in the upcoming season and becoming a key member of the squad. I can’t wait to meet the boys and get stuck into a successful season!”

Here’s a video of Scott in action.
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23 year old Alex Grey joins the Steelmen after spending last season playing for the Wales 7s squad as a fully contracted player, and representing Wales at the Vancouver and Los Angeles legs of the IRB World Series. Alex is a native of Bury St Edmunds where he has played for the local club, winning several league Player of the Week awards whilst living on the family farm. Alex is able to play right across the back 5 with his favoured positions being 6 and 7.

He comes to the Steelmen with impressive references from Wales and former Ebbw Vale player and coaching favourite Nick Wakley,  as a skilful, powerful player with a great engine that allows a high intensity performance throughout the game.

Alex said, “I’m very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be signing for Ebbw Vale RFC. I look forward to representing such a great club in the Indigo Welsh Premiership and will relish the challenge that it brings.

Ebbw supporters will remember that the last player to join us from Wales 7s was the hugely impressive Lloyd Evans and they will be delighted if Alex makes the same impression on the team that Lloyd did. Highlights of Alex can be found at https://youtu.be/dpNLCuoo05s

We are pleased to announce the first of five new forward signings today, with four more to come over the next four days.

The return of Number 8 Ethan Doyle will be welcomed by the Ebbw Addicts who took to the pacy, powerful and skillful play during his previous 18 month stay with the Steelmen. Ethan was a key part of the squad that won the Premiership and was a strong presence in his second year before moving back to Old Redcliffians and, in his last game for the Steelmen, scored two tries to ensure an away win in a tough encounter at Swansea. 29-year-old Ethan has also played in the Number 4 position in the attritional League 2 South and this versatility is a bonus for the Steelmen. Ethan told the website, “I’m excited to come back to Ebbw Vale and play in front of the Ebbw Addicts again. I’m entering a strong Steelmen squad so hopefully this season will be as successful as my first, when I was a Premiership winner!”

The club is delighted to announce that six more players have committed to Ebbw Vale for the coming season.

Dan Hill who topped the Indigo Premiership carrying stats and featured in the top 6 of the tackle stats will start his second season at the club after joining the Steelmen from Clifton RFC in the close season last year. Dan featured predominately in the number 6 shirt and also give strong performances in the second row when required.
He will be joined by the Young brothers, Lewis who passed 50 games for the Steelmen last season and also featured highly in the Indigo Premiership carrying stats and younger brother Owen who will be looking for an injury free season after recovering from a shoulder operation only to suffer a knee injury in November against Cardiff RFC. When available Owen has turned in several man of the match performances and all at the club are looking forward to seeing him on the field providing his skill and determination for the Steelmen cause.
They will be joined by Ebbw Fawr and Cardiff Met product, Dawid Rubasniak who performed strongly in the 6 and 7 shirts last season showing his expertise as a jackaller and powerful carrier and earning his international cap for Poland. Further competition comes in the shape of Pill Harriers product Harry Harding who impressed the coaches last season with some strong tackling and hard work in a number of appearances from the bench, and they are expecting him to challenge strongly after his first year with the club adjusting to the demands of the Premiership.
The big late December signing for the club was the imposing 6ft 9” 20st second row Corey Talbot who played a major role in the upturn in the results seen from January onwards. Very safe on the Ebbw throw he also displayed an admirable ability of causing havoc on the opposition throw. The signing from Old Redcliffians is also a solid ball carrier with excellent handling abilities and will feature strongly in the new season.

From Friday 8th May we will be bringing you one forward signing per day for the next 5 days.

The traditional strength of the Steelmen has been a powerful pack and this will be no different in the coming season with a large amount of experience in the front row. Ross Jones and Rob Sevenoaks enter their 11th season with the club and are both within single figures of reaching 250 games. They are joined by loose heads Joel Harries and Luke Garrett.

Joel, who is coming into his 4th season at the club, will look to have an injury free year after Two seasons ruined by injuries, and all are looking forward to seeing him displaying his strong carrying and tackling game, allied to a solid scrummaging technique, on a more regular basis. Former Dragon Luke adds his undoubted all round ability as he enters his third season at Ebbw having joined from Neath in November 2018 and there will be strong competition between the two younger men and the elder statesman Ross Jones who showed last season that there was no drop off in his scrummaging ability that has been his trademark over his entire career.

The tight head berth will see Dave Whiting concentrate on the number 3 position of the scrum. Dave, who joined from Worcester RFC in early November 2019, played across the front row, showing admirable technique in all positions to go with ball handling and jackalling skills that befit a player who is a former Number 8. He will be challenged by Ellis Evans who has performed strongly at Brynmawr RFC and did well with limited opportunities at the Steelmen last season with a thumb injury keeping him sidelined for 8 weeks.The scrummaging prowess of Ebbw Addicts‘ favourite and twice Man of Steel Rob Sevenoaks will provide stiff competition for the No 3 shirt to the young pretenders!

At hooker newly appointed Captain Joe Franchi, who is close to 150 games for the club, will be backed up by Mikhail Blake entering his second season with Ebbw, where he impressed with his work ethic and his controlled aggressive approach to the role and made his mark with his display in the draw at Llandovery.

Coaches Greg Woods and Gethin Robinson are looking forward to working with the group.

“At such a difficult time, many may think that events at Ebbw Vale Rugby Club should come well down the order of importance.
I, perhaps not surprisingly, disagree!
The messages from Greg, the announcement of a new captain, and Jon’s review of the season, all remind us that we will eventually come through this, and provide us with a cause for optimism.
Of course, we will have to suffer bad news in the meanwhile and the sad death of Neil Robinson reminds us of the many who have given so much to have made Ebbw Vale such an important club in Welsh rugby.
Neil exemplified all that the rest of Wales admires about us: loyalty, high standards, a sense of past history and generosity of spirit.
If my memory serves me right, before taking up teaching he had a brief period as a policeman and I suspect no other President can claim as can I that he cross-examined two of Ebbw Vale’s finest – Neil and Detective Sergeant Gareth Howls!
And thinking of Ebbw Vale’s finest I was struck by a glaring omission in the Chairman’s review. There seemed to be one person whose contribution to the season was greater than anyone else – and that is Jon himself.
Perhaps only those most involved in the running of the club – and his long suffering family – appreciate the enormous sacrifices and effort that he makes to ensure not just the success but also the very existence of the club we love.
From everybody who holds Ebbw Vale RFC dear, Mr. Chairman, we thank you.
Long may you reign!“

Mark Powell, President.

The club is pleased to confirm the coaching group for the coming season, once again to be led by Head Coach Greg Woods who had no hesitation in remaining at the helm of the Steelmen. Greg very quickly settled into life at ECP and has experienced highs and lows while leading the club superbly in his first two and a half years with us.
He will once again be assisted by Lewis Roberts who has a long association with the club as a player, strength and conditioning coach and, for the last two and a half years, as backs and attack coach.
Working alongside the coaches for a third season will be team manager Darren Venn. There is a very long list of tasks for  team manager and key amongst them is a major role in player retention and recruitment.

Darren said, “It’s a real privilege to embark on my fourth season at the club. The management group have worked tirelessly over the last couple of months to ensure that, when we do actually start the new season, we will have an extremely committed and energetic group of players. These players have been specifically targeted and hand picked and we have confidence in them all being able to ensure the team progresses and reaches its full potential.“

Chairman Jon Jones said, “This is great news for the Steelmen. TheIr desire to stay, and the manner in which both Greg and Lewis dealt with issues at the club, gives me 100% confidence that our playing future is in safe hands. Greg, as one of the longest serving coaches in the Premiership, brings a great deal of experience which he puts to full use in ensuring competitive teams take to the the field. As Chairman, I have also recognised that there had been an enormous workload for the coaches last year so, over the last six weeks, we have added to the coaching group.”
The additions see former Steelmen tight head prop Gethin Robinson returning to the club as Strength and Conditioning and Skills Coach. Having cut his coaching teeth at Cwmbran RFC over the last seasons, Gethin brings with him a great deal of experience having played just under 300 games for the Dragons and Newport RFC before three seasons at the Steelmen to complete his career. Gethin won Premiership titles at both Newport and Ebbw Vale RFC and will instil his winning mentality and culture into the playing group. Gethin commented, “I’m really excited and honoured to be back involved with the Steelmen. I had a great time in my three years at the club as a player, reigniting my love for the game and lifting the premiership trophy.I’m really up for the challenge of helping Greg, Lewis and Jon get the club back to competing for the top spot in the premiership, while developing myself in a coaching role. There are quality players at the club and my ambition will be to help them achieve their aims both as individual players and as a squad.“

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