Returning to the Steelmen for the 2023/24 season will be two exciting front row prospects Charley Kearns and Harry Drane.
Charley said, “It’s a privilege to re-sign for Ebbw. I’m looking forward to being back grafting on the pitch with the boys after last season being cut short for myself. This year we’re here to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke, that we can go toe to toe with any team and I’m sure the hard work and dedication given by every player and coach will be rewarded come the end of next season.”
Also returning will be the powerful scrummaging tight head, Harry Drane, who made 13 appearances during the 2022/23 season scoring 1 try.
Harry stated, “I am really happy to put pen to paper for this season. The environment the boys and coaches have created is second to none. Looking forward to the coming season and getting back into pre-season.”
Watch out for new signings… Coming soon!
Ebbw Vale RFC are delighted to announce that back row Lewis Young and 2nd row Jakub Malecki have been retained for 2023/24
The ever-popular Lewis made a big impact in 2022/23 when moving to the openside flanker position. Lewis made 21 appearances, scoring 3 tries and also passed his 100 caps for the club during the season.
Lewis commented, “It was a no-brainer to re-sign this year, we shocked a lot of people last year with a very fresh squad. The togetherness in the whole club from the supporters, coaches, players and backroom staff is one of the best I feel we have had together at Ebbw Vale RFC in a long time. I believe that with the coaches and squad we have, we can keep building on from last year and do something special in the coming season and push for silverware.”
Also returning will be lineout forward Jakub Malecki. Jakub made 6 appearances for the Steelmen in 2022/23.
Jakub, known as Kuba is part of the Polish International squad and has been involved in a number of international training camps and matches during 2022/23.
Kuba stated, “I am really pleased to have re-signed for Ebbw. The togetherness of the squad, great atmosphere in the club as a whole and the knowledgeable coaching staff and players made the decision simple. I am looking forward to the upcoming season which I know will be very successful.”
Ebbw Vale RFC are delighted to announce that Matt Flanagan and Adam Court will once again be Steelmen in 2023/24
Returning for another season of Steelmen rugby will be scrum half, Matthew Flanagan who will be looking to reach his 100-cap milestone for the Steelmen during the 2023/24 season. Matt made 19 appearances during 22/23 scoring 2 tries.
Matt stated, “It’s always a privilege to re-sign for Ebbw Vale. Looking forward to a big season ahead with a great group of players, coaches, and fans. I have no doubt that with the squad we’ve got, we will be fighting for silverware this year.”
Also retained for 2023/24 is Adam Court, another member of our powerful front row union who made 19 appearances for the Steelmen in 2022/23.
Adam commented, “Really enjoyed my first season at Ebbw. Great season as a completely new squad. Looking forward to pushing on next year and competing for the league and cup.”
Returning for another season with the Steelmen will be Luke Garrett and Gethin Williams
Luke, a powerful scrummaging forward, has been an integral part of the Steelmen squad for a number of seasons and made 21 appearances in the 2022/23 scoring 2 tries.
Luke said, “I feel very pleased to have signed for another season at Ebbw Vale. The great progress we have made this season and with the majority of the squad retained for next year, shows we are building something special on and off the field. Exciting times ahead! I can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”
Gethin stated, “Last season we turned a lot of heads and showed that we are a proper side to compete with in the league. I’m looking forward to improving on last season individually and as a team and taking the next step towards the ultimate goal, trophies. With the unrivalled support of the Addicts, the coaches, and a strong group of players, we are in a great position to succeed next year.”
Next Announcement: Monday 29th May @ 6.30pm
Ebbw Vale are thrilled to announce the retention of Morgan Richards and Ryan Davies for the 2023/24 season.
Morgan played most of his first season at full back, where his explosive turn of pace saw him scoring 10 tries including the try against Pontypridd that was voted try of the season by the Ebbw Addicts. Morgan made 22 appearances in 22/23, scoring 10 tries.
Morgan said, “After having so many new faces at the start of last season, no one expected us to do as well as we did in the league. It is going to be very exciting when the squad gets back together so we can carry on where we left off. So that is one of the many reasons why I wanted to re-sign for Ebbw Vale next season. Also, a massive shout out for the Ebbw fans for the unbelievable support on and off the pitch.”
Also returning will be young winger Ryan Davies, who excited the Ebbw faithful with his electric pace during the season. Ryan also caught the eye of the Welsh selectors this season and has been part of the Wales U20s squad. Ryan made 14 appearances during the season scoring 3 tries.
Ryan said, “I am very happy to re-sign for Ebbw Vale. I’ve really enjoyed this season with the boys and the club and now just looking forward to next season and try and get into the top 3 in the table.”
Ebbw Vale RFC are delighted to announce that both Curtis Gregory and Kieran Meek will be starting their 2nd season as Steelmen in 2023/24
Curtis has made a big impact at the club in the 2nd row following his arrival at the club last season. A hard tackling lineout forward Curtis made 19 appearances in 22/23, scoring 1 try.
Curtis said, “I’m pleased to be re-signing. There was no question for me if I wanted to stay. The club, the boys and supporters are great and I’m looking forward to see what we can achieve in the upcoming season.”
Kieran has proved to be a great addition to the squad since joining the squad in November playing at outside half, centre, and full back. He has also shown to have nerves of steel kicking the winning penalty against Pontypridd and a last-minute drop goal to beat Bridgend. Kieran made 16 appearances for the Steelmen in 22/23.
Kieran said, “Really pleased to have re-signed for next season, fantastic group of players, coaches and fans. Looking to build on what we achieved this season and aim to fight for trophies in the up-and-coming season.”
Next announcement on Friday 26th May @ 6.30pm
Back in the Pack
Following the announcement of one co-captain, Ebbw Vale RFC are pleased to confirm that the other co-captain Rhys Francis will again be a Steelman for the 2023/24 season. Having returned to the club in 2022/23 Rhys finally reached his 100th appearance during the season. Rhys made 21 appearances overall during the season scoring 2 tries.
Rhys said, “It’s an honour each year to be given the opportunity to re-sign with Ebbw. With the squad we are building, the off-field developments and the continued support from the Addicts, it’s an exciting time for everyone associated with the club!”
Chad commented, “I couldn’t put pen to paper quick enough! The environment Jason and the coaching team have created is spot on and the boys welcomed me with open arms with it being my first season… can’t wait to get the ball rolling for 2023/24.”
Next Announcement: Thursday 25th May @ 6.30pm
The Steelmen held their annual end of season presentation evening on Saturday 20th May at the Welfare. The night was well supported and included video presentations, a number of speeches and the presentation of the awards.
The awards, including the coveted Clive Burgess Man of Steel, were announced by club President Mark Powell and the winners were as follows:
- Clive Burgess Man of Steel – Dom Franchi.
- Denzel Williams Players Player of the Year – Ethan Phillips.
- Gareth Howls Captain Award – Co-captains Joe Franchi and Rhys Francis.
- Ivor Evans Clubman of the Year – Lewis Young.
- Doctor Gordon Thomas Award – Joe Franchi
- Ebbw Addicts Player of the Year – Dylan Bartlett
- Ebbw Addicts Most Promising Player – Carrick McDonough
- Top Point scorer – Evan Lloyd with 187 in the league
- Top Try Scorer – Carrick McDonough with 10 in the league
- 100 Caps – Rhys Francis, Lewis Young and Dom Franchi.
- Try of the season – Fullback Morgan Richards for his try against Pontypridd at Sardis Road.
A special mention to Ebbw Vale youth winger Harry Rees Weldon who received his Wales u18s cap on the evening from WRU employee Angharad Collins.
The club would like to thank all those involved for their hard work, the supporters for their amazing support both home and away and are looking forward to seeing everyone next year, which promises to be another exciting season of Steelmen Rugby.
Indigo Premiership End of Season Statistics
Evan Lloyd 187 League Points (2nd in League)
Gethin Williams 14 dominant tackles (2nd in League)
Carrick McDonough 10 tries (3rd in League)
Lewis Young 28 turnovers (4th in League)
Ethan Phillips 12 line breaks (3rd in League)
Dom Franchi won the coveted Man of Steel Award, while Dylan Bartlett was awarded the Ebbw Addicts Player of the Year at the end of season Presentation Evening
Presentation Night Videos. Details of Award Winners to follow…
Tries, Tries and more Tries!
One Club, One Cause, One Passion
Twin Town – Joe and Dom Franchi back for 2023/24
Joe and Dom Franchi will once again play for their hometown club in 2023/24. With more than 250 appearances between them for the Steelmen, the Franchi boys have been an integral part of the Steelmen squad for a number of years.
Joe has led from the front all season and passed 150 appearances for the Steelmen during the year. As co-captain of the team, Joe made 18 appearances during the season and scored three tries.
Joe stated, “I’m very excited to re-sign for next year. I think there is a real buzz around the playing group, coaches, backroom staff and supporters for what is happening on and off the field at the club. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together next season.”
Joining Joe will be his twin brother, Dom, who passed his 100 appearances during the season, Dom’s abrasive style is so popular with the Ebbw faithful and he started in 23 appearances during 22/23 and scored 1 try.
On being with the Steelmen for another season, Dom said, “Ebbw is my home and there’s no place I’d rather be. It was a no-brainer. All I needed was a pen!”
Next Announcement: Monday 22nd May @6.30pm
Jon Evans and Ethan Phillips Retained
Ebbw Vale RFC are delighted to announce that Jon Evans and Ethan Phillips will once again be Steelmen for the 2023/24 season.
Jon Evans will be starting his 3rd season at Ebbw Vale, having made 22 appearances in 2022/23 and scoring 2 tries. Jon was also selected to play for for Crawshays in Hong Kong during the 22/23 season.
Jon said, “I am really excited to continue building on the good work we put in last season. What we achieved as a group with the age and experience of our squad far surpassed anyone’s expectations. A lot of the players now understand how tough the Welsh Prem can be and what is required to win week in week out, but we want more. I want Ebbw to be competing for Silverware and give the amazing Ebbw fans something to celebrate.”
Also returning to the Steelmen for 23/24 will be local favourite, Ethan Phillips. Ethan scored 7 tries in 20 appearances during the 22/23 season and also passed 50 appearances for the Steelmen during the year.
Ethan commented, “I am delighted to have re-signed once again. It is always a no-brainer for me playing for my hometown club. It’s exciting seeing the club moving in the right direction and I am looking forward to pushing on from last season.”
Next announcement: Friday 19th May @ 6.30pm
Try of the Season 22/23
It is time to vote for the Ebbw Vale RFC try of the season.
Online voting will stay open until midday on Saturday 20th May. Those attending the club dinner will be able to vote that evening.
How to Vote
Send your vote with the try letter and the name of the scoring player.
You can send your vote to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by leaving a comment under the link on the club Facebook or Twitter pages
Ebbw Vale youth entertained Caldicot/Chepstow youth in the Gwent Cup semi-final at Cae Canol field, Ebbw Vale on a beautiful summer’s day.
An eventful start to the game saw both sides being awarded penalties. An excellent kick by outside half Fin Southall from inside the Steelmen’s half found the away side’s twenty-two. From the resulting lineout, good forward play saw second row Sam Walters crash over the line to score the game’s first try. Outside half Fin Southall was unsuccessful with a tricky conversation.
With the home side’s forwards becoming dominant, further good play by their forwards, saw hooker Cameron Bolton scored his team’s second try of the game. However, fly half Fin Southall was unsuccessful from a similar position to his first attempt.
After the referee penalised both sides further, enterprising play by the Steelmen’s forwards, saw the ball end up at the hands of captain and flanker Mason Coughlin, who did well to cross the line to score the third try of the game. Fly half Fin Southall found his range to add the extras to put his side 17 points ahead.
It didn’t take long for the home side speedster Jack Thomas to add his name to the scoreboard by scoring try numbers four and five of the game shortly before halftime. The first of which was an excellent move, which started in the Ebbw Vale twenty-two. Some slick, quick passes saw the ball make its way to winger Jack Thomas who showed his gas to enter the Caldicot / Chepstow twenty-two. With just the full back to beat, a delicate chip saw the winger outpace the covering defence to be the first player to the ball to touch down. Outside half Fin Southall was successful with the first conversion. However, missed the latter.
Despite good pressure by the dominant home side pack, no further points were added to the scoreboard in an entertaining first half.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale Youth 29 – 0 Caldicot/Chepstow Youth
The Steelmen came out of the blocks exactly as they finished the first half. Within minutes of the game restarting, the home side scored their sixth try of the game. Good work by the forwards made the ball available, deep in the away side’s twenty-two. Clean, quick ball resulted in outside centre Ryan Denney crossing the line. Flyhalf Fin Southall again added the two points.
With Ebbw completely on the front foot and the forwards crossing the gain line at will, outside half Fin Southall scored a well taken try for his side and was also successful with the conversion.
Against the run of play, the referee showed Ebbw inside centre Lewis Prendergast a yellow card after the Steelmen were penalised on numerous occasions inside their own twenty-two. Caldicot / Chepstow scored a deserved try after the forwards went through the phases. Just short of the try line, the ball was picked up by one of the second rows, who dived over the line to score. Despite initially missing the conversation, the referee requested the kick be retaken. This time the kick was successful.
Ebbw scored their eighth try of the game when replacement scrum half Ryan Jones found the ball at his feet. With time running out, the replacement scrum half, darted over the line to add the five points. Fin Southall successfully added the two points to bring the game to a close.
After the game, we spoke to the team captain and try scorer on the day Mason Coughlin. Mason was happy with his team’s performance and believed the defence and good attacking skills made the difference.
We also spoke with Ebbw’s head coach Mathew Williams. Mathew acknowledged the effort the Caldicot/Chepstow side put in, especially within the first ten minutes. However, he was happy with his team’s performance and thought the squad’s fitness and skill level made the difference. Looking forward to the final, Mathew acknowledged the squad are always looking to improve and will have to go up a level for the game. Mathew believes this is something his team can achieve.
End of Season Review Part 2
Reviewing the seasons goals, Rhys stated beating rivals Newport twice was a goal set and achieved by the squad. They wanted a strong home record, and he believed the team had done that, especially considering in the home games that were lost, they were all within a score. He continued by stating the squad wanted to make the Ciner Glass Community Stadium a fortress where teams fear coming to play against Ebbw vale next season and Rhys believes the squad have already set a good marker for next season.
Both Joe and Rhys were quick to emphasise it had been a great effort by the whole squad. Whilst Joe did not feel it was fair to single out any individuals, he was pleased to see the growth in players such as Gethin Williams, Carrick McDonough, Evan Lloyd and Dylan Bartlett and was also happy to see the experienced players, like Luke Garrett, Ethan Phillips and Dom Franchi to name but a few, play at the level they did during the season. However, again, Joe emphasised the whole squad had been fantastic and there was not one player who did not perform well.
Looking at competition for places, Joe was happy to see players such as Kieran Meek and Ryan Jenkins join Ebbw halfway through the season. All the players who joined the team throughout the season, have provided the squad with an extra dimension and have brought real strength and depth. He acknowledged the signings would be good for players such as Evan Lloyd, as competition was healthy and it would bring out the best in all players, as they would know they would have to train and play well to ensure inclusion on match day.
Joe also believed the same went for himself and Rhys. Rhys returning to Ebbw and being made co-captain was fantastic. Having another squad member that could help shoulder the captain`s burden and ensuring if he was not 100% for whatever reason, Rhys is on hand to ensure there would be no dip in performance.
Joe relayed that there were no players in the team with an ego, everyone gets on well and is willing to work hard. Ian Mitchell, a sports psychologist for England football, had visited the club, to carry out a couple of sessions with the squad. Ian pinned down what the squad wanted to be as a team and their values. Each squad member was honest, there is a relentlessness in training and work ethic on and off the field and all the players were tight and all together. These foundations, have this season and going forward, put the squad in a good place to perform.
Like Joe, Rhys did not hold back with his praise for the entire squad. He had not played previously with younger players such as Evan Lloyd and Carrick McDonough and was also happy to see the more experienced players such as Lewis Young all perform at the levels they did. Rhys believed the experience obtained by the younger players, such as Chad Thomas, amongst others, would be invaluable going forward. He also praised the impact the players who joined during the season had on the squad and how well they had settled in.
Looking forward to the future, Joe was in a positive mood. He explained there is a couple of exciting developments that may be coming out in the next couple of weeks about the changes of the club and facilities, which is going to make Ebbw Vale a real good hub for rugby in the area and community. He advised everyone at the club wants it to be a real focus point within the community. Joe and the squad all love playing for Ebbw and he thought everything about the club, including the backroom staff, the coaches, the players and the clubhouse was top tier in the league. Therefore, this should transition on to the pitch and he believed Ebbw will be be fighting for silverware on both fronts next season.
Rhys advised to finish on a loss is disappointing, however, the squad will enjoy their time off, but every player will be chomping at the bit to get back and right the wrongs for next season.
Both Rhys and Joe concluded by thanking everyone at the club for their hard work. They also wanted to thank the supporters for their incredible support this season and hope to see everyone again next season.
Report written by Alex Kinsella-Evans
End of Season Review PART 1
After the conclusion of the season, we sat down with co-captains Joe Franchi and Rhys Francis.
Discussing the season, both Joe and Rhys were disappointed to finish fifth, not compete in the play
offs and have something to play for in May. Joe advised before playing Bridgend away, winning
those types of games were important, if the squad were to compete for the play offs and league
title. Losing to Bridgend, Cardiff and Llandovery ultimately cost the team the opportunity of the play
offs. However, both believe it was a massive achievement to finish fifth. Especially considering the team
finished eleventh last season.
Joe and Rhys were quick to praise the work that the coaches, backroom staff and Jon Jones have
done in recruiting, training and building the squad this season. They paid tribute to the squad for
working hard and sticking with the game plan, especially as no other team has progressed recently
from eleventh to fifth within a season. Joe believes the future is really promising for the Ebbw Vale
team. The squad will look to kick on next season, improve further and aim to be in the mix for the
Looking at the season’s goals, Rhys stated that the squad went into the 2022/23 season wanting to
make the play offs. The squad is an ambitious group and even though previous years, in the league,
did not look favourable, reaching the play offs was something the whole squad was aiming for.
Having not reached the top four, Rhys was disappointed to let that slip away, especially considering
the final score of the games they lost were so close, they could have gone either way. He was,
however, optimistic that the experience would benefit the squad going into next season and assist
the team’s challenge for a play off place.
Joe added that even though there was an overhaul of the squad last summer, they knew how good
the coaching staff, backroom staff were, coupled with the facilities at the club, everything was in
place to enable the team to challenge in the league and cup.
Key moments, however, let the squad down during the games that were lost this season.
He also stated RGC away in the cup was one of the most disappointing performances of the season.
Even though it is never an easy place to play, the squad would normal fancy themselves to win there,
but that small margins cost them.
Rhys believed to be successful next season, the team needs to be clinical in taking their
opportunities. This is something that had to be learnt the hard way this season. When looking at
teams such as Cardiff and Llandovery, who have been clinical when entering the twenty-two and
normally coming away with points. However, it will be a good learning curve for the squad going
forward, if they want to cement a top four position.
Joe was really pleased with the amount of character and togetherness shown within the group. This
had been evident since the pre-season games, such as Clifton away, where the team defended for
large portions of the game and did not break.
By doing this in a pre-season game, he believed that was promising for the season ahead.
Joe also advised, this togetherness, was evident again when playing Cardiff in the last game of the
season. He was disappointed that a momentary lapse of concentration resulted in Cardiff scoring a
try off a quick tap. However, Joe was encouraged, as the best attacking team in the league only
really scored one open play try. Therefore, he thought the signs were promising, as it is not
something that can be coached, along with attitude, character and effort. This is what the squad has
in abundance and as for all the other things, they will be worked on in pre-season. The squad will
come back on a different level next season.
Looking at the squad, both Rhys and Joe state that The Steelmen have a really good core group of players that
they are building the team around. Joe considered there was a good solid bunch of twenty-five/six
players whose fitness and resilience enables them to play week in week out. There had not been
many injuries during the season and there were a group of players who have played a lot of minutes,
which was really encouraging. He paid tribute to those players, pinpointing Dylan Bartlett as an
example, who only missed the final game of the season owing to work commitments. Prior to this
Dylan had only missed four minutes in the second row all season, which was some achievement. Joe
advised having players like that was invaluable and the squad will look to strengthen in a couple of
areas for next season.
Part 2 to follow
Report by Alex Kinsella-Evans
Steelmen Just Miss Out
Ebbw entertained second place Cardiff on a sun-baked afternoon at the Ciner Glass Community Stadium, in their final game of the season.
With both sides starting the game by giving away a number of penalties, referee Ben Connor awarded the home side a penalty in the away side’s half. The Steelmen’s top scorer and full back for the day Evan Lloyd successfully kicked the penalty to put his side ahead.
The blue and blacks were soon down to fourteen men when flanker Nathan Hudd was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes by referee Connor for repeated infringements. With Ebbw having the upper hand, flanker Lewis Young scored the game’s first try. Full back Lloyd added the two points.
Further good play by the home side’s forwards and backs saw the Steelmen almost score a second try, only for the assistant referee to adjudge a push off the ball, which resulted in Cardiff being awarding a penalty to relieve the pressure.
With the away side putting together some good phases of play inside the Ebbw Vale twenty-two, referee Connor awarded the blue and blacks a penalty within five metres of the line. Some quick thinking by outside half Dan Fish saw the number ten take a quick penalty and dive over the line to score his sides first points of the game. With Fish moving out to the wing, replacement fly half Harrison James kicked the conversion to bring his side to within three points.
On the stroke of half time, referee Connor penalised Ebbw. Cardiff marksman Harrison James again kicked the penalty to take the game into half time all square.
Half Time: Ebbw Vale 10 – Cardiff 10
The home side came out in the second half clearly fired up. After winning good lineout ball and then being awarded a scrum, referee Connor awarded Ebbw a penalty inside the blue and blacks half. Lloyd successfully added the three points.
Against the run of play, the away side were awarded a penalty from a scrum inside the Steelmen’s half. Replacement flyhalf Harrison James again levelled the score at 13 all.
Some good play by the Ebbw backs, just inside the blue and black’s half saw the Steelmen almost score a second try. A quick pass inside found its way to speedster Carrick McDonough, who cut a line through the defence to show his speed and go untouched over the try line, only for referee Connor to bring the game back for a forward pass.
Ebbw Vale head coach Jason Strange made the decision to replace the magnificent Joe Franchi with Rhys Francis, the hard-working Luke Garrett with Joel Harries, the superb Dave Whiting, on his last appearance for the side with Adam Court and the ever-dependable Lewis Young with Bevan Jay.
With the game entering the final fifteen minutes, Cardiff scored the winning points, when from a scrum the ball was fed to full back Cameron Winnett. In space, the full back went over the line for his sides second try of the game. James was unable to add the two points.
The Steelmen made their final changes when Matthew Flanagan replaced the quick-thinking Jon Evans, Morgan Richards came on for the skilful Kieran Meek and Ewan Bowden made his debut for Ebbw when replacing Amir Jiwa Walji on the wing. Morgan Thomas replaced Jakub Malecki in the final change for the Steelmen.
With the away side giving away penalty after penalty in the dying moments, the Steelmen were unable to capitalise, with the blue and blacks seeing out the game.
Full Time: Ebbw Vale 13- Cardiff 18
Spirit of Wales Distillery man of the match: Joe Franchi
Straight after the game we spoke with Prop Dave Whiting, who was making his final appearance for Ebbw. Dave although disappointed with the result believed the team played well.
Looking back on the four years he has been at the club, Dave said it is a great family club, who have welcomed him and his family since day one. He has enjoyed his time at Ebbw and wishes everyone at the club all the best for the future.
We also caught up with Ebbw Vale flanker Gethin Williams. Gethin thought the team put in a good performance. He thought they were unlucky, and a few decisions did not go the side’s way. However, he was encouraged with the team’s heart and effort and believes there are a lot of positives to take into next season.
Finally, we also spoke with Cardiff flyhalf Dan Fish, who was making his final appearance at the Ciner Glass Community Stadium. Dan paid credit to Ebbw Vale. He acknowledged it is always tough to come up to Ebbw and win. However, he was happy they did so. He finished by stating he was over the moon to have played so many games for both Cardiff (region) and Cardiff RFC during his career.
Report written by Alex Kinsella-Evans