Ebbw Vale v Cardiff Preview

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This week we spoke to head coach Jason Strange where we looked forward to the Cardiff game and discussed the season.

Reviewing the season, Jason is so proud of everyone at the club for what they have achieved. He believes it has been done the right way as a club by fully committing to the vision to be an independent club and successful business and have stuck to their principles and remained authentic.

Jason thinks it is important to keep things in perspective and not to have a short memory, especially considering fifteen months ago the club only had 25 registered players and were getting beat by 40 points, sitting at the bottom of the league.

He stated they had to be brave and rip everything up and start again with a clear vision to build not just a team but rebuild the whole club with a clear plan. The club are now in a fantastic position, with a sensible business model, are self-sufficient, have a great supporter base, a very good young team and a major ground development, which will be fantastic not just for the club but for the entire area and take the club to another level.

At the heart of the club there is now a clear strategy and plan around which everyone, and everything, works. It dictates who is signed, how the team play and how young players are developed. Jason and the management want to develop players from within by investing and improving players to fulfil their potential. Secondly, they never use finance as an excuse not to do well, instead they maximise what they have at the club by being resourceful. No help has been received off anyone, just lots of hard work by a lot of people.

Jason stated success can be measured in many different ways. This season was all part of the journey to build not just a team but a successful club for the long term. Everyone is now engaged and on the same path whatever their role in the club.

Jason is buoyed and excited by the potential of the team. He and the management team have a young hungry squad of our own players that are only going to get better and continue to grow, which is hugely exciting. The squad have got some fantastic qualities and will have learnt some valuable lessons to take forward this season.

Looking forward to next season, Jason believes it is also great that another Gwent club is joining the Premiership, which he personally feels is long overdue. He is delighted for head coach Leighton Jones, the Jeffrey`s family and Pontypool as a club, especially as Ebbw have been in that position as a club, when the league was ring fenced for three years in 2011 and it certainly tests loyalties towards the club. He added Pontypool will add value to the Premiership, especially as they have a great supporter base, which is exactly what any league deserves.

Previewing this Saturday’s final home game of the season against Cardiff, Jason advised it is a game the players are looking forward too. Cardiff have lots of playing resources, so it will be a nice challenge for the squad.

Looking at the whole season Jason acknowledged it has been a really enjoyable season. The Premiership product is excellent and very good value for money; however, it is extremely disappointing what’s happened with Llanelli RFC and is sure that the WRU are aware of what has happened and if not will surely investigate the cause of why it has happened.

Unfortunately, it seems the squad will be punished and miss out on the play offs for playing the fixtures by the original end of the season deadline, which has now been extended. However, whatever happens between now and the end of the season, whether we win a trophy or not, everyone connected with the club can be extremely proud of what’s been achieved this season. The team is young and talented and will keep improving and growing together over the coming years. Everyone is enjoying being at the club again and pride has been restored, which was always the main goal.

Jason finished by thanking everyone for their support this season.

Ebbw Vale RFC Team News

Saturday 29th April v Cardiff RFC (Kick Off 2.30pm)

15  Evan Lloyd

14 Carrick McDonough

13 Ethan Phillips

12 Dom Franchi

11 Amir Jiwa Walji

10 Kieran Meek

9 Jon Evans

1 Luke Garrett

2 Joe Franchi (capt)

3 Dave Whiting

4 Jakub Malecki

5 Curtis Gregory

6 Gethin Williams

7 Lewis Young

8 Chad Thomas


16 Rhys Francis

17 Joel Harries

18 Adam Court

19 Morgan Thomas

20 Bevan Jay

21 Matthew Flanagan

22 Ewan Bowden

23 Morgan Richards

On Saturday the 22nd of April the club was informed by the Welsh Rugby Union that the Welsh Premiership for the 23/24 season will be a 13 team league.

This is due to Llanelli RFC now confirming they have withdrawn from the Premiership for season 23/24.

The home side collect five points

by Alex Kinsella-Evans

Fifth placed Ebbw welcomed sixth placed Aberavon to The Ciner Glass Community Stadium on what was a beautiful day for rugby.

Straight from the kick off, a fired-up Aberavon took the game to the hosts. From a lineout in the Ebbw Vale half, the ball made its way out to fly half Joe Thomas, who broke through the home defence to score under the posts and get Aberavon’s first try of the game. Winger Chris Banfield was successful with the conversion.

With the Steelmen’s forwards starting to get a foothold in the game, referee Mike English awarded the home side a penalty. Full back for the day and prolific points scorer Evan Lloyd kicked the three points.

The away side hit back quickly and scored their second try of the game in the fifteenth minute when winger Chris Banfield went over in the corner after some good play by his side’s forwards. Banfield was unsuccessful with the conversion from out wide.

Ebbw’s second penalty of the game came when referee English penalised the Wizards in their twenty-two after the Steelmen forwards started to get on the front foot. Lloyd was successful with the penalty to make it a six-point game.

With less than ten minutes left in the first half, good play between the home side forwards and backs saw a break into the away side’s twenty-two. Referee English awarded Aberavon number ten Joe Thomas a yellow card for a professional foul.

With Ebbw opting to take the scrum, quick hands by the backs saw the ball end up at the hands of full back Lloyd, who with plenty to do came into the line at pace to score a well taken try. However, Lloyd was unsuccessful with the conversion to bring his team back to within a point.

On the stroke of half time, further good play by the Steelman’s forwards and backs saw them make in-roads into Aberavon’s half. Within seconds, some quick passes out to winger Carrick McDonough, saw the winger in space. With no defender in sight, the speedster went over the try line untouched to go into double figures for the season. Lloyd added the extras to bring the half to a close.


Half Time Ebbw Vale 18 – 12 Aberavon


The start of the second half saw Ebbw Vale get on top. With the forwards making inroads, the Wizards were penalised in their own half. Marksman Lloyd duly added the three points for the home side.


With fullback Lloyd putting Ebbw on the front foot with some excellent 50:22 kicks, further good play by Ebbw Vale in the away side’s twenty-two, led to the ball arriving at flyhalf Kieran Meek’s hands deep inside the Aberavon twenty-two. With an overlap out wide, some smart thinking by the fly half, saw Meek throw a looping pass out wide to winger McDonough. In acres of space, the winger again went over the line untouched to extend his team’s lead. Lloyd again added the two points to make the score 28-12 to the Steelmen.

On fifty-six minutes, the hosts were reduced to fourteen men. After some good work by the Wizards, a try saving tackle by centre Dom Franchi saw the away side just short of the try line. However, the centre was penalised and shown the yellow card for having hands in the ruck.

From the resulting play and having the numerical advantage, Aberavon scored their third try of the game through Luke Davies. Chris Banfield was again successful with the conversion.

Within five minutes, the Wizards scored their bonus point try of the game. Some excellent exchange of passes between forwards and backs saw the supporting Frankie Jones score under the posts. Replacement Rhodri Cole kicked the conversion to bring it back to a two-point game.

Ebbw Vale coach Jason Strange replaced the ever-dependable Luke Garrett and hard-working Rhys Francis with Joel Harries and Joe Franchi.

Back to fifteen and with just less than a quarter of an hour to go in the game, the Steelmen had a lineout in the away side twenty-two. Quick ball out by scrum half Jon Evans saw outside centre Ethan Phillips go outside his opposite number to score the bonus point try. Lloyd added the two points.

The industrious Lewis Young was replaced by Bevan Jay, who was making his home debut. Further substitutions saw the outstanding Adam Court be replaced by Owen Hatherill, who also made his debut, the excellent Jon Evans replaced by Matthew Flanagan and Morgan Thomas came on for the excellent Jakub Malecki.

With the game ending, a dominant display by Ebbw saw the home side awarded a penalty in the Aberavon half. The team’s top scorer Lloyd kicked the penalty to extend his team’s lead to twelve points.  

Credit to both sides, who contributed towards an entertaining game. Coach Jason Strange will be hoping his side see the season out next week at home to Cardiff with a win.

Full Time: Ebbw Vale 3826 Aberavon

Distillery spirit of Wales man of the match: Adam Court

After the game we spoke to Ebbw Vale winger Amir Jiwa Walji. Amir thought the team made a slow start within the first fifteen minutes. However, he was happy that they ended up securing the bonus point win.

We also spoke to opposition winger Stef Andrews. Stef stated, it is always tough to play at Ebbw Vale. He added Ebbw are a quality team with a big heavy pack. It was Aberavon’s last game of the season and they attempted to go out with a bang but just fell short. Stef finished by saying it was a great win for Ebbw and a nice way to end the season for them.



The Ebbw Vale side to take on Aberavon RFC in the Indigo Welsh Premiership this Saturday at the Ciner Glass Community Stadium 14:30pm is as follows.

Let’s have a loud Ebbw Vale crowd on the bank to shout on the Steelmen in the last but one home game of the season

You can also follow match updates on our social media channels Twitter @evrfc and Facebook www.facebook.com/SteelmanRugby for updates #Steelmen


1. Luke Garrett 

2. Rhys Francis (C )

3. Adam Court 

4. Dylan Bartlett

5. Jakub Malecki 

6. Gethin Williams 

7. Lewis Young

8. Chad Thomas 

9. Jon Evans

10. Kieron Meek

11. Amir Jiwa Walji 

12. Dom Franchi 

13. Ethan Phillips 

14. Carrick McDonough 

15. Evan Lloyd 



16. Joe Franchi 

17. Joel Harries 

18. Owen Hatherill 

19.  Morgan Thomas 

20. Bevan Jay

21. Matthew Flanagan 

22. Amir Saleh

23. Ewan Bowden

Ebbw Vale vs Aberavon preview 

We spoke to forwards coach Aaron Coundley this week in the build up to the Aberavon game at Ebbw Vale this Saturday, 2:30pm.

Looking back at the weekends game against Merthyr, Aaron said the squad were disappointed to come away with a loss after the performance they put in. However, they will learn from the adversity, and it will put the squad in good stead for the future. 

Looking forward to this week’s training, Aaron does not think motivation within the squad will be an issue. The squad are tight and all work hard for each other, including the back-room staff, players and management. There will be no passenger’s that can think it`s acceptable to switch off before the season ends. 

The management team will review a few key areas during the week. There is always areas that require improving, especially as there may be only two games left of the season. Therefore, the players will not be complacent.

Finally, Aaron concluded by saying the players that are performing the best will play and that will not change for any game. 

Ebbw experience a narrow defeat

By Alex Kinsella-Evans

The Steelmen made the short journey across the Heads of the Valleys to play the Ironmen on a glorious day for rugby, with their loyal and loud supporters in attendance.

Straight from the kick off, the away side were on the front foot. A knock on by Merthyr in their twenty-two gave Ebbw a scrum. After winning the ball, the away side’s forwards went through the phases, which resulted in captain Joe Franchi use his strength to go over and score his sides first try of the game, with only two minutes gone. Outside half Kieran Meek successfully added the extra’s.

With the Ebbw Vale forwards clearly fired up and taking it to the home side, referee Dewi Phillips awarded the Steelmen two penalties, which Meek was unsuccessful with when taking aim at the posts.

The home side got their first points on the scoreboard when former Ebbw fly half Josh Lewis kicked a penalty in the thirteenth minute of the game.

From a lineout inside the Merthyr half, the away side forwards again got the upper hand and after some fine handling, the ball made its way again to captain Franchi, who went over for his second try of the game. Meek was unlucky with the conversation when hitting the post.

Minutes later, the Ironmen scored their first try of the game when good play by backs and forwards ended in replacement Tom Daley crossing the line. Flyhalf Lewis added the extras.  

With the Merthyr pack coming back into the game, quick and intelligent thinking by the Steelmen’s number nine Jon Evans, saw the scrum half take a quick throw in to winger Carrick McDonough in the Ebbw half. The winger with a lot to do, showed his speed to go three quarters of the field untouched, to cross in the corner for Ebbw Vale’s third try of the game. Meek successfully added the extra two points. 

With the first half coming towards an end, the Ironmen got their second try of the game when winger Adam Hoskins scored in the corner. Lewis Kicked the conversation from the touch line. 

On the stroke of half time, referee Dewi Phillips awarded Merthyr captain Craig Locke a yellow card. 

Half Time: Merthyr 17 – 25 Ebbw Vale

With the Merthyr pack still down to seven men, the Ironmen’s flyhalf Josh Lewis successfully kicked a penalty after an illegal challenge by an Ebbw player.

Moments later, with home side back to fifteen men, some good play by the away side forwards led to referee Phillips award the Steelmen a penalty in the Merthyr half. Meek successfully kicked the penalty to extend his teams lead to eight points. Referee Phillips sent Dan Wall to the sin bin for Merthyr’s second yellow card of the game. 

On the sixty first minute Ebbw Vale head coach Jason Strange replaced the entire front row. Co-captain Rhys Francis replaced the impressive Joe Franchi and props Joel Harries and Adam Court both came on for the industrious Luke Garrett and Dave Whiting. 

The Ironmen scored their third try of the game with approximately fifteen minutes remaining. With their forwards going through the phases, replacement scrum half James Soanes dived over the line. Lewis added the extra’s to make it a one-point game.

The away side made further changes when coach Strange replaced the hard-working Gethin Williams with Lewis Young and influential outside half Kieran Meek with Evan Lloyd. Moments later Amir Saleh replaced the ever-dependable Amir Jiwa-Walji and Matthew Flanagan replaced the bright thinking but injured Morgan Richards, to take up an unusual position for him on the wing. To clear the bench, head coach Strange brought on Bevan Jay to make his debut when he replaced the strong ball carrying Chad Thomas with less than ten minutes to go.

There was a long stoppage in play when the Steelmen’s number eight Ryan Jenkins suffered what appeared to be a serious injury to the head. Also down at the same time was Rhys Francis. Both medical teams and Doctor Rhys Thomas were quick onto the scene to look after both players, with Jenkins unfortunately being stretchered off the field.   

With play resuming, both teams took it to each other looking to score the winning points. Ebbw nearly scored their fourth try of the game when after good interchange between forwards and backs saw winger McDonough going over the line, only for the officials to decide the winger was in touch. 

With five minutes of play to go, Merthyr forwards made in roads into the away side’s half. A break by a Merthyr forward saw the supporting Morgan Sieniawski receive the ball and go over the line for his team’s bonus point try, despite being tackled by opposing players. Outside half Lewis was successful with the conversation.

With the final play of the game, referee Phillips awarded the Ironmen a penalty, which flyhalf Lewis was unable to convert.

Credit goes to the medical staff of both teams and Doctor Rhys Thomas, who were quickly onto the scene and dealt with the injured Ryan Jenkins expertly. 

Full Time: Merthyr 34-28 Ebbw Vale

The Ebbw Vale side to take on Merthyr RFC in the Indigo Welsh Premiership this Saturday at the Wern, 2:30pm is as follows.

Let’s have a big Ebbw crowd at Merthyr shouting on the Steelmen

You can also follow match updates on our social media channels Twitter @evrfc and Facebook www.facebook.com/SteelmanRugby for updates #Steelmen


1. Luke Garrett

2. Joe Franchi (c) 

3. Dave Whiting

4. Dylan Bartlett

5. Curtis Gregory

6. Chad Thomas

7. Gethin Williams 

8. Ryan Jenkins

9. Jonathan Evans

10. Kieran Meek

11. Amir Jiwa Walji

12. Dom Franchi

13. Ethan Phillips

14. Carrick McDonough 

15. Morgan Richards


16. Rhys Francis

17. Joel Harries

18. Adam Court

19. Andrew Mann

20. Lewis Young

21. Matthew Flanagan

22. Evan Lloyd

23. Amir Saleh

Steelmen get the bonus point win 

Report by Alex Kinsella-Evans

Fifth placed Ebbw Vale beat tenth placed Pontypridd with a bonus point victory after making seven changes to the starting line-up that last featured against Carmarthen. 

Straight from the kick off Ebbw were on the front foot. With the line out improved, the ever present Dylan Bartlett stole a Pontypridd line out in the away sides half. The ball made its way out to the inform Ethan Phillips, who handed off the covering defence and tried to feed the ball to the supporting Carrick McDonough. However, the ball did not go to hand.   

With a ruck in the Ponty half, the away side’s number eight Joe Miles picked up the ball and ran through the centre only to be halted by the covering home side defence. The ball made its way to Pontypridd outside half Joseph Scrivens, who kicked the ball in behind the Steelmen backline. Scrum half Jon Evans covered and took the tackle. With the Ebbw forwards going through the phases in their own twenty-two, the away side turned the ball over and against the run of play scored the first try of the game when the ball made its way out to the dangerous Niko Matawalu, who with two Ebbw Vale defenders tackling him passed the ball to the supporting Tom Devine to score the try. Fly half Scrivens added the two points.

A neat chip out of the Pontypridd twenty-two by outside half Scrivens saw referee Simon Mills award a yellow card to Ebbw’s number six Andrew Mann for a high tackle.  

A kick into touch from their own twenty-two by the away side, resulted in a quickly taken lineout by the Steelmen. Outside half Kieran Meek took the ball forward before second row Dylan Bartlett and prop Dave Whiting made further inroads into the Ponty half. However, referee Mills awarded Ebbw a penalty. Flyhalf Meek scored his teams first points of the game.

With the home side having more of the ball and territory, referee Mills awarded another penalty to the Steelmen in the away side’s half when Ponty flyhalf Scrivens was offside. However, Meek hit the post on this occasion.

A further penalty awarded to Ebbw saw outside half Meek kick to touch in the Pontypridd half. From the lineout the home side forwards set up a maul. The ball was passed out to the backs, who were tackled, With the forwards making ground in front of the goal posts. A quick pass by scrum half Jon Evans to outside centre Ethan Phillips, saw the centre go on the outside of his man only to be tackled just short of the try line. Some quick thinking by the experienced Jon Evans, saw the scrum half pick up the ball and dive onto the try line for Ebbw Vale’s first try of the game. Meek added the extras. 

An excellent 50:22 kick by the influential Meek gave the Steelmen a Lineout in the Pontypridd twenty-two. The home side were rewarded further when referee Mills awarded a penalty with the last kick of the first half. Meek kicked the penalty to take his team into the lead 13-10 at half time. 

Half Time: Ebbw Vale 13-10 Pontypridd 

Within the first few minutes of the second half, the referee went to the screen to review a high tackle by Ebbw winger Amir Jiwa Walji. After discussing with his fellow officials, referee Mills awarded the winger a yellow card. 

Some good play by the home side forwards led to Meek putting in a clever cross kick for winger McDonough to expertly catch the ball, draw a player and pass to flanker Gethin Williams. With a lot to do, Williams held of the tackle, used his strength and did well to keep his feet out of touch and scored in the corner. Meek was successful with the conversation from the touchline.  

Coach Jason Strange made the first two substitutions of the game after fifty-five minutes when props Charley Kearns and Harry Drane replaced the ever-dependable Luke Garrett and Dave Whiting.

A swift back’s move led to Meek throw a long pass to Phillips, who in acres of space used his pace to slice through the Ponty defence. However, the play came to nothing.

From a scrum just inside the away side’s half, some quick passing by the Ebbw Vale backs, saw Phillips, Richards and Jiwa Walji make inroads into the Pontypridd twenty-two. Referee Mills awarded the Steelmen a penalty for not rolling away. The home side kicked to the corner. From the line out, the forwards set up a maul, which resulted in co-captain Joe Franchi crash over for his side’s third try of the game. Meek added the two points. 

Further changes to the home side saw co-captain Rhys Francis replace try scorer Joe Franchi and back rowers Chad Thomas and Lewis Young replace hard working Gethin Williams and Ryan Jenkins. Moments later half backs Matthew Flanagan and Evan Lloyd replaced try scorer Jon Evans and the outstanding Kieran Meek. 

With ten minutes left in the game, the away side’s captain and former Ebbw Vale second row Kristian Parker was shown a yellow card to see out the game in the sin bin. 

The last substitution of the game for the home side saw a debut for Amir Saleh replace the threatening Amir Jiwa Walji

Using the man advantage Ebbw scored their fourth try of the game and claim the bonus point when replacement Evan Lloyd superbly saw space behind the Pontypridd defence and put a clever grubber kick in for speedster Carrick McDonough to race through, collect the ball and score the bonus point try. Lloyd hit the uprights with the conversation to see the game end with the Steelmen collecting the five points. 

Full Time: Ebbw Vale 32-10 Pontypridd 

Spirit Of Wales Distillery man of the match: Kieran Meek

After the game we spoke to fullback Morgan Richards. Discussing the game, Morgan acknowledged it was a tough effort from the whole squad and believed the team worked hard from the first minute. He finished by advising it was not pretty during the first half hour but during the second half the team really showed that it does not matter who they play against, they can play good rugby.

The Ebbw Vale side to take on Pontypridd RFC in the Indigo Welsh Premiership this Thursday at the Ciner Glass Community Stadium 19:30pm is as follows.

Let’s have a big Ebbw crowd on the bank shouting on the Steelmen

You can also follow match updates on our social media channels Twitter @evrfc and Facebook www.facebook.com/SteelmanRugby for updates #Steelmen


1. Luke Garrett

2. Joe Franchi (c) 

3. Dave Whiting

4. Dylan Bartlett

5. Curtis Gregory

6. Andrew Mann

7. Gethin Williams 

8. Ryan Jenkins

9. Jonathan Evans

10. Kieran Meek

11. Amir Jiwa Walji

12. Dom Franchi

13. Ethan Phillips

14. Carrick McDonough 

15. Morgan Richards



16. Rhys Francis

17. Charley Kearns

18. Harry Drane

19. Chad Thomas

20. Lewis Young

21. Matthew Flanagan

22. Evan Lloyd

23. Amir Saleh

Easter Egg Collection

The Ebbw Vale RFC players are once again pulling together for the local community at Easter through the collection of Easter eggs for the local food bank. 

Supporters are able to join in by donating an easter egg at the home fixture against Pontypridd this Thursday, 6th April before the game and drop them off at the club shop. If you have any questions please contact Gareth on marketing@evrfc.co.uk or 07974873683


Ebbw Vale vs Pontypridd Preview

By Alex Kinsella-Evans

Before training we caught up with Strength and Conditioning coach Nicky Strange. 

Looking back at the Carmarthen game, Nicky thought the defence was superb and the hunger to compete never fails. He acknowledged the decision making and mistakes were letting the team down. However, he believes if they are fixed, Ebbw will be a great side. 

Looking forward to the weeks training and game against Pontypridd, Nicky is hoping all the lads turn up hungry Tuesday ready to work towards a big effort Thursday against a good Pontypridd team. He acknowledged any slips ups now could mean the end of the season so it`s a no excuses kind of message which he tends to live by on a daily basis. 

Nicky added considering Arran only had a few sessions to make a few adjustments, he was very impressed and hopefully the improvement in the lineout and scrum continues for the rest of the season. 

Finally, Nicky advised the mood after the game was good and acknowledged it always is when the team win. However, the squad are aware they can be a lot better and if the team get it right they are a match for anyone. 

The stage is set for 10 days of incredible action as clubs and players from all over Wales descend on the home of Welsh rugby for the ‘Road to Principality 2023’ rugby jamboree.

Last year saw record breaking numbers in almost every category as the fans flocked to watch the rising stars of the game, as well as established senior players representing clubs from across all divisions in the game, chase titles and lifelong memories playing at Principality Stadium.

There will be 29 cup finals played across the 10 days of action, which kicks-off on Saturday, 1 April with the three WRU Women’s National Cup Finals. The following day will see the girls take centre stage with two U16 finals.

Saturday’s games will see Merchedd Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd tackle Haverfordwest Ladies in the Bowl Final, Burry Port Ladies face Whitland Ladies in the Plate Final and Llandaff North seek to add the National Cup to the South Wales title they won at the stadium last year when they take on Pontyclun Falcons in the showpiece Cup Final.

The Bowl and Plate Finals will be following by a full screening of Wales Women’s TikTok Six Nations clash with Scotland (kick-off 5.30pm) as Hannah Jones’ side seek to build on their 31-5 opening round win over Ireland last weekend. The Cup Final will kick-off at 7.30pm.

“We have already staged six finals – three in the WRU National Schools & Colleges League before Christmas and three for the Welsh Schools U18. They were all of a very high standard and have set the tone for what is coming up in April,” said Community Rugby Director, Geraint John.

“Last year’s RTP events were bigger and better than ever before and broke records in almost every category.  
The goal will be to improve on those figures, as well as to provide every player with a day to remember at Principality Stadium.

“For some, this may well be the first step in a career that takes them to the top of the game and enables them to one day play for either the Wales Senior men’s or women’s team.

“The whole essence of this annual gathering at Principality Stadium is to inspire youngsters and reward those clubs up and down our National League structures with the chance to enjoy a unique day out at the home of Welsh rugby.

“Already we are seeing clubs involved in the senior finals filling buses to bring their fans to the Welsh capital to enjoy a great day out and we hope to welcome as many as possible.”

Three games are left to determine the full line-up in this year’s ‘Road to Principality’ senior club finals after another dramatic round of semi-final clashes. Last weekend saw Cardiff and Newport qualify for the WRU Premiership Cup Final, while Neath and Pontypool will meet this weekend in the second semi-final in the WRU Championship Cup to determine who will face Ystrad Rhondda.

The WRU Division 1 Cup semi-finals also take place this weekend, with unbeaten Newbridge and Nant Conwy putting their records on the line.

The winners will meet at Principality Stadium on Sunday, 23 April as the first game on in a triple-header that day which will also include the Championship and Premiership Cup Finals. The Cup Final for Divisions 2-5 will take place on Saturday, 8 April.

“Last year we had six senior club finals for the men, which has increased to seven this year, and three for the women. They all attracted big followings and we hope to see them all played out in front of bumper crowds once again,” added John.

“We also have Judgement Day returning to Principality Stadum this season following COVID and that will feature the professional games between Cardiff and Ospreys, as well as Dragons v Scarlets, on Saturday, 22 April.”  

The final two-days of the event will see inclusion days, with a Mixed Ability clash between Cardiff Chiefs and Llanelli Wanderers, as well as a round-robin competition involving three teams of gay rugby players representing the Swansea Vikings, Dragons and Rhinos. There will also be a Walking Rugby element for the first time.

Principality Stadium will be open to the general public, three days out of the 10-day event will be ticketed, the remaining days the WRU encourages supporters and young rugby fans to come and soak up the fantastic atmosphere during the Road To Principality, free of charge.


Ticketed events:


Saturday 1st April – National Women’s Cup Finals
Saturday 8th April – National Men’s Cup Finals (Day 1)
Sunday 23rd April – National Men’s Cup Finals (Day 2)


Priced at £10 per Adult ticket and £5 for Under 17’s.  Tickets are available from each of the finalist rugby clubs or available to purchase on the day from the WRU Ticket Office on Westgate Street.

Saturday 1st April National Women’s Cup Finals and Sunday 23rd National Men’s Cup Finals will be broadcast on S4C.

All other matches across all 10 days of events will be streamed live via WRU social channels: YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.


WRU Women’s National Bowl Final (1.00pm) – Merchedd Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd v Haverfordwest Ladies
WRU Women’s National Plate Final (3.15pm) – Burry Port Ladies v Whitland Ladies
Scotland v Wales – Live Screening (5.30pm)
WRU Women’s National Cup Final (7.30pm) – Llandaff North v Pontyclun Falcons

WRU Girls U16 National Plate Final (1.00pm) – Gwylliaid Meirionnydd vs Cardiff Quins Girls
WRU Girls U16 National Cup Final (3.00pm) – Ravens v Nelson Belles


WRU National Youth U18 Bowl Final (3.00pm) – Caerphilly v Llangwm
WRU National Youth U18 Plate Final (5.15pm) – Ammanford v Burry Port
WRU National Youth U18 Cup Final (7.30pm) – Carmarthen Quins v Tondu

Saturday, 8 April – NATIONAL MEN’S CUP FINALS (PART 1)

WRU National Division 5 Cup Final (11.00am): Crumlin v Ferndale
WRU National Division 4 Cup Final (1.15pm): Bryncethin v Nantyglo
WRU National Division 3 Cup Final (3.30pm): Abertillery BG v Vardre
WRU National Division 2 Cup Final (5.45pm): Aberdare v Morriston



WRU National Division 1 Cup Final (1.00pm): TBC
WRU National Championship Cup Final (3.15pm): Ystrad Rhondda v Neath / Pontypool
WRU National Premiership Cup Final (5.35pm): Cardiff v Newport  

U11 Junior Group 10-a-side John Rees Cup Final (11.30am): TBC
U14 Intermediate Group Year 8 Cup Final (12.45pm): TBC
U16 Intermediate Group Year 9 Cup Final (2.30pm): TBC


Girl’s National Schools U12 Cup Final (10.30am): TBC
Girl’s National Schools U14 Cup Final (12.30am): TBC
Girl’s National Schools U16 Cup Final (2.30pm): TBC
Girl’s National Schools & Colleges U18 Cup Final (4.30pm): TBC
Welsh Districts Male Cup Final (7.30pm): TBC


U11 DC Thomas Bowl Final (10.00am): TBC
U11 DC Thomas Plate Final (11.30am): TBC
U11 DC Thomas Cup Final (1.00pm): TBC
U15 Lawrence Miller Bowl (2.30pm): Islwyn v Pembrokeshire
U15 Morgan Griffiths Plate (4.30pm): Cynon Valley / Carmarthen v Swansea Valley / Merthyr
U15 Dewar Shield Final (6.30pm): Pontypridd v Cardiff /Swansea

Thursday, 27 April – INCLUSION DAY 1

Mixed Ability Game (6.30pm): Cardiff Chiefs v Llanelli Wanderers

Friday, 28 April – INCLUSION DAY 2

Inclusion Festival (Ummul Girl’s Academy – 9.00-10.00am)
Schools Festival (10.15-11.45am)
SEN Group (12.00-1.30pm)
Walking Rugby Festival (1.45-3.30pm)
IGR Rugby Fixtures (3.45-5.45pm): Vikings, Dragons, Rhinos round robin

Wales’ four professional sides and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have put pen to paper on a new financial package designed to enable sustainability and growth over the next six years.

The Professional Rugby Board (PRB) announced today (31/03/23) that it has signed a new long-form Professional Rugby Agreement (PRA), with all parties – the WRU, Cardiff Rugby, the Dragons, the Ospreys and the Scarlets – bound by its terms until 2029.

The new PRA provides a financial framework which is made up of new funding from the WRU and club shareholders to create a sustainable platform for progress.

It provides financial predictability for the professional game in Wales and is welcomed by all PRB members.

Homegrown player development will be a key objective for all parties as the new PRA is designed to promote success for both the professional club game and the Welsh international side.

This latest news comes on the back of PRB chair Malcolm Wall confirming legally-binding Standard Form Contracts are already being issued to players giving a high degree of certainty and clarity to Wales’ professional rugby players in a universally consistent manner, for the first time.

Key features of the new PRA, which is reliant upon certain external approvals related to existing loan arrangements, include:

–          Salary caps to be introduced from season 2023/24


–          Two kinds of contracts will be offered namely fixed contracts and those with both a fixed and variable element, where the variable element is linked to appearances and performances


–          All contracts will be held by a central clearing house to monitor spend, ensure contract compliance and effect a new player-loan system across clubs


–          Contracts for players of national interest will be agreed by the club and the WRU Performance Director


–          The clubs are committed to a minimum spend on player academies


–          All clubs are subject to regular audits of squad expenditures, contracts, business plans and academy performance


–          The clubs are committed to centralising aspects of their commercial operations, with work already in process in this area

“It is no exaggeration to say a great deal of work, time and effort has gone into establishing an agreement all parties can be happy with and which is designed to achieve the very best results for Welsh professional rugby from the resources available to us,” said PRB chair Wall.

“The Directors of each of our professional sides, the executive staff at the WRU, my fellow Independent Non-Executive Director Marianne Økland and the Rugby Management Board all deserve credit for enabling Welsh rugby to reach this critically important moment.

“We also can’t let this moment pass without marking the important role our sadly departed colleague and friend Peter Thomas CBE played in sustaining professional rugby in the Welsh capital during his lifetime and in helping us reach this significant point in our history.”

Welsh Rugby Players Association CEO Gareth Lewis, who attends all PRB meetings, has also welcomed the agreement after playing a key role in the formation of the new contracts on offer and recently negotiating changes to the WRU national squad selection policy i.e. the number of international caps a player will be expected to have won before being free to play outside Wales – and still be available for selection by Wales – has been reduced to 25.

The Professional Rugby Board comprises representatives from each of the five professional entities in Welsh rugby – four regional representatives, Alun Jones (Cardiff Rugby), David Buttress (Dragons), Chris Lawlor (Ospreys) and Simon Muderack (Scarlets), acting WRU CEO Nigel Walker, WRU finance director Tim Moss and two independent members, being Malcolm Wall, as chair, and Marianne Økland.

WRU CEO Walker added: “Our objective has been to achieve a sustainable future for our four professional sides and for Wales and credit must go to all involved now this has been achieved.

“The cooperation between the WRU, our professional clubs and the WRPA has been a vitally important part of this process and we will continue to work together for the future benefit of Welsh rugby.

“We now have a structure which will provide a backdrop of stability from which we can build.”

Ebbw win out West

Fifth placed The Steelmen came away from Carmarthen Park with a win after a competitive game was played in the Spring sunshine. 

From the kick off, the ball was taken into touch in the Carmarthen twenty-two by a Quins player. The away side spent plenty of time in the home side twenty-Two trying to score the first try of the game, however, were held up over the try line. The referee awarded the Quins a dropout.

With the Steelmen spending the majority of the time inside the Carmarthen half, a rare attack into the away side twenty-two saw the Quins awarded a scrum. Against the run of play, referee Craig Evans ruled the Ebbw Vale front row had caused an illegal offence and awarded the home side a penalty. The Quins outside half Steff Marshall put the first points on the scoreboard.

An early substitution for the Steelmen saw winger Ryan Davies making way for Amir Jiwa Walji after receiving a knock to the head.

With the Ebbw Vale front row of Charley Kearns, Rhys Francis and Dave Whiting not taking a backward step and being supported well by the remainder of the pack, referee Evans awarded the first of two yellow cards to the Quins front rower James Newnian for an illegal offence.

The Steelmen decided to kick to the corner and from the line out, the home side turned the ball over. However, further offences by Carmarthen players saw referee Evans award Ebbw two consecutive penalties. 

The pressure eventually told for the away side, when from a scrum inside the Quins twenty-two, quick ball made its way out to Ebbw’s full back Morgan Richards, who showed his strength and powered between two Quins players to score the first try of the game. The away side’s number ten Evan Lloyd was unable to add the extras. 

From the kick off, the ball reached winger Carrick McDonough, who tapped the ball into touch to bring the first half to its conclusion.

Half Time: Carmarthen Quins 3-5 Ebbw Vale

With the Steelmen playing into the wind in the second half, the opening phases of the half were even until the home side’s number three Ben Leung was shown the second yellow card for the Quins. 

Ebbw coach Jason Strange started to ring the changes with Joe Franchi replacing fellow captain Rhys Francis, Ryan Jenkins replaced number eight Chad Thomas and centre Ethan Phillips on his return to the squad from injury came on for fly half Evan Lloyd. The latter seeing a reshuffle to the back line with Phillips slotting into the outside centre position, Dom Franchi moving back to his usual position of inside centre and Kieran Meek moving to fly half. 

With Carmarthen claiming more of the ball in the second half, referee Evans awarded the Quins a penalty inside the Ebbw Vale twenty-two. Outside half Marshall easily converted the penalty to put the home side a point in front. 

During the half, the away side made further changes when props Adam Court and Joel Harries, who returned to the squad after a spell out injured, replaced the tireless Charley Kearns and Dave Whiting. From a lineout, the ball made its way out to the Steelmen’s replacement number eight Ryan Jenkins, who made a barn storming run into the home side half, only to be tackled before he was able to pass the ball to the supporting Ethan Phillips. 

Ebbw were awarded a penalty in their own half, which Meek kicked to the Quins twenty-two. With the line out greatly improved, the away side won the ball and the forwards put together an impressive maul, only to be stopped from going over the line. Further good work by the away side forwards saw referee Evans award a penalty to Ebbw. Fly half Meek successfully added the three points to put his side ahead by two.  

With the Ebbw forwards starting to win more ball, some clean quick ball on the Carmarthen twenty-two made its way out to second row Curtis Gregory, who in the centre position galloped through a gap in the defence to score a very well taken try. Meek added the extra two points.

The away sides final change of the game saw backrower Gethin Williams replace the hard-working Lewis Young. 

As the game entered its final moments, the home side applied pressure only to be stopped by a well drilled Ebbw defence. However, with the final play of the game, the Quins breached the Steelmen defence with a well finished try. Outside half Steff Marshall added the two points with the final kick of the game. 

Full Time: Carmarthen Quins 13- 15 Ebbw Vale  

After the game we spoke to Ebbw Vale try scorer and second row Curtis Gregory. Curtis acknowledged in the first half the team did not help themselves by making too many errors. However, he believes in the second half the team managed to hold onto the ball better, went through some plays and created chances. Curtis finished by stating he was happy to have scored his first try for the club.