In this strange and troubled time, it is with sadness that we announce the departure of 3 players who have played major roles on and off the field in what have been largely successful times.
This time last year the club faced a deep financial crisis and I would like to reassure all connected with the club that the players are not leaving for financial reasons but through personal choices. The club is in a much healthier position and will be announcing a new Captain, those players who have already committed to the Steelmen, and new signings to ensure that we are ready when the new Indigo Premiership starts.
Our Captain Ashley Sweet has been associated with the club for 10 seasons as a supreme line out operator and driving force in our Division 1, Championship and Premiership titles that earned him a professional contract with the Dragons. Unfortunately he suffered with injury after injury and was never able to get an extended injury free run and returned to Ebbw Vale. After close on 250 games Ash has made a decision to move on to achieve a playing ambition before he retires. Coaches and Officials wish him all the best for the future and he, along with his dad Martyn – his greatest supporter and critic – Jay and children will always be welcome at Eugene Cross Park. I would also like to point out that the club he is moving to has asked us not to disclose his destination and we are respecting that request.
Another stalwart who joined the club mid season 9 years ago is back row forward Cameron Regan whose whole hearted approach along with his approachability off the field made him an Addicts favourite throughout his time at the club. He is likely to step down the divisions to play with less pressure as he recharges his batteries and allows niggling injuries to be overcome. His approach led to a number of injuries that have limited him to over 150 appearances in the club. He will always be remembered for his ability to play across the back row, and snaffle ball in the line out: few will forget his 5m line out steal at Llandovery in the last few minutes that secured the win and led to our final win over Pontypridd. There are many stories about Cameron, all of them true and guaranteed to make you smile. I believe we will see him again in Steelmen colours in the future.
Finally Rhys Francis will take a break from rugby whilst awaiting his delayed shoulder operation and then going through his rehab period. Rhys is closing in on 100 appearances but has suffered from bad luck with injuries since joining the Steelmen from Cardiff Met where he captained the team. This season he has been a key player before a dislocated shoulder ended his season in an epic battle in gale force wind and rain at Llandovery in January. His commitment could never be faulted, reverting to playing at 6 as injuries beset the squad and turning in a superb exhibition of back row play in the game at RGC. He is another we hope to see in the Steelmen colours again in the future.
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