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.

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 addition 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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It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Neil Robinson following a long illness. He was an outstanding player and a wonderful man. A flanker, he joined us in the early Eighties after studying at UWIC in Cyncoed, Cardiff and quickly made his mark in a club renowned for the quality of its backrow forwards.

In 1984 he was named Player of the Year and his superb fitness and skills led him to captaincy of the club in four seasons, 1984/5, 1985/6, 1987/88 and 1988/89. It was a busy time for a captain of a club like ours playing an average of 45 games a season, but Neil filled the role superbly.

In October 1987 he captained Ebbw Vale against the United States Eagles a close game which we were fortunate to win. The Eagles scored three tries to our one and Neil, a sportsman in every sense of the word, paid tribute to the Americans who looked likely winners and according to a match report would have won “had the Ebbw Vale pack cracked.” Led by Neil, it did not.

Phil Gardner coached Neil and remembers the impact he immediately made when he joined the club. “Neil was always superbly fit, a family man, an outstanding player and a very nice guy.”

The following are the thoughts of a former teammate Rob Stephens who joined the club during Neil’s captaincy from Gwernyfed RFC:
“I came to the bright lights of Ebbw Vale at the start of the 1986/7 season and joined up with Neil being the Club Captain for that season. With him being a fellow back row player and Coaches Phil Gardner and Gomer Evans also being backrowers I had plenty to prove and aspire to. I soon learnt that the club captain led by example with a high standard off the field as well as on. Jumping on the club bus to one of my first away matches to Nottingham Neil pulled me to one side and said, “Bob you are up a couple of notches here and representing a great club in, Ebbw so have a shave and put your tie straight” Total respect of the skipper and I did take heed!

Plenty of big fixtures lay ahead on the field and Neil always led from the front over the years as we played side by side many times in some tough encounters with Neil always nailing his spot at 6 and representing Ebbw Vale and skippering the side to a very high standard. Truly a great role model to all players especially to myself and the fellow young backrowers we had in the club at the time,(Spiller, Easley and Ian Williams amongst them). Great memories and great times with our fellow rugby players, committee members and supporters at Ebbw Vale Rugby Club. Neil Robinson led and left his mark that is for certain, respected by the Rugby Family. RIP Neil and Thank you.”

We offer our sincere condolences to his family on behalf of those who played with him, watched him from the terraces and enjoyed his company.

Chairman’s End of Season Review

Saturday 25th April would have seen us enjoying the first game of the Cross Border Competition against the Scottish Super 6 with Southern Knights being the visitors to a sun drenched Eugene Cross Park.  

Instead we all find ourselves in a once in a lifetime situation with a global pandemic changing our daily lives completely and possibly leading to a new normal after the current restrictions are lifted. It is fitting that the nation gathers each Thursday to thank all the key workers who are keeping food on the shelves, vital utilities running, building field hospitals in weeks and our health needs superbly catered for by all our truly heroic NHS staff.  As a club we all will have family, friends and those attached to the club working in these areas and all our thoughts are with them as we ahope to emerge out of a dark period safe and well to enjoy our game and lives as soon as the authorities have the Pandemic firmly under control. In the meantime please do all you can to support all of these latter day heroes by staying home and following the requirements that have been placed on us.

As Greg outlined in his review, the season was a tough affair as we went through a transitional period on and off the field. For the more recent supporters it was a new experience to be in a battle at the bottom of the table and not at the top. Many of the players brought in have gained invaluable experience in this fight that will allow them to contribute to the future success of the club. 

One of the contributory factors to our struggles has been a truly amazing injury list that kept our medical team of Dr Rhys Thomas and physios Rhys Shorney and Saran Wyburn extremely busy.  It was only on our final game that the 23 named by the coaches on a Thursday actually were the 23 who represented the Steelmen in a game, such have been the injury and availability issues that have dogged the coaches and medical team over the season.

Three performances stand out for me. RGC away where we only had 21 players available but the 21 showed real steel that day in gaining a fantastic away win against all odds. The noise generated by the travelling faithful was also something to proud of.  The display of forward play in defence at Llandovery, earning a draw in the worst conditions I have ever attended a rugby match in, was also a special day. Finally, the performance in beating Pontypridd at Eugene Cross Park with some Alamo like defence allowed the players to gain the win they fully deserved.

Our results improved markedly in 2020 as new recruits added quality to the team in what was a very competitive Indigo Premiership Division.  The players, coaches and officials of the club were confident that we would maintain our Indigo Premiership status on the field and were disappointed not to be able to do this but were fully supportive of the decisions and measures put in place by the WRU around rugby in Wales.

 As Chairman I would like to thank the Chairman, CEO and staff of the WRU for the manner in which they have dealt with the crisis, providing help in ensuring clubs survive the pandemic. The communication process to the club’s officials has also been first class and it is right that we as a club publicly state our support, confidence in and gratitude to Gareth Davies, Martin Phillips and all the staff at the WRU for the swift, clear and sensible decisions taken.

Off the field I would like to pay tribute to Karl Offers as Club Secretary   for the last 18 months who has done a superb job in what has been a testing period. His work in completing a few tricky transfers during the season, particularly around Christmas, was above and beyond the call of duty. Mark Hathaway in his first season as Treasurer has replaced Alan Gall, a tough act to follow, with professionalism whilst modernising and cutting some of our off the field costs.  In most clubs the post of  President is an Honorary one, the club is fortunate to have Mark Powell QC  as our President who works hard alongside the officials in any capacity required. These officials are backed up by a great bunch of volunteers who man gates, put programmes together, sell them, run buses, look after mascots, serve food, run social media and manage kit.

Another important part of the season saw the club welcome the Mini & Junior Rugby Section officially to the club. This will be an important element of the future of the club as the financial landscape of Welsh rugby changes. There will be a further exciting development in this area which will be revealed to you all in the next few weeks.

This year we had a significant number of sponsors without whose backing we would be unable to operate as a Premiership club. Their financial backing and enthusiasm  for the club is of immeasurable value. The donations from The Friends of Ebbw Vale and individuals has been of tremendous assistance in the last 12 months and long may it continue.

Through the off field work, increased sponsorship and realigning of our cost base we will enter the next months having reduced the club’s debts by around 70%. This is a great achievement but we still have to focus on completing the job in the next 12 months which I believe is a realistic target. 

I would also like to finally pay a special tribute to the players who stuck with us despite our financial situation and retained a great work ethic and team spirit despite our on field struggles. The very small coaching group of Greg, Lewis Roberts and Team Manager Darren Venn worked tirelessly through the pre season and in season to ensure we remained as an Indigo Premiership Club, accepting the financial circumstances and just getting on with the tasks in hand without complaint. All of the above deserves huge thanks from us all.

Finally a big thank you to all our supporters for sticking with us in a tough season that seemed to reserve the monsoon rain conditions for game day and we look forward to seeing you all again in the near future.

In the next few weeks we will be releasing information on our squad retention and recruitment. Prior to this we will be providing details of the coming season Coaching Set Up

Thank You

Jon Jones


Ebbw Vale RFC

Supporters will remember the news about Patrick Harrington’s terrible accident. Many at the Club feared the worst so we are delighted to inform his many friends that, as one would expect from one of Ebbw Vale’s finest, his family report that he is now making steady progress.
The Club is delighted at the news and wish him, Susan and the family the best in what for them have been doubly difficult times.

Some non-rugby but important community news for all Ebbw Vale RFC supporters. All sections of EVRFC got together and donated to two departments at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny. £100 was donated to ITU and £100 to A&E to thank staff for their wonderful work not only in this crisis but all day every day throughout the year. #NHS 💙💙

Thanks for all you do !!!!

Uncompromising hooker Joe Franchi has been unveiled as Club Captain for 2020-21. Head Coach Greg Woods said, “Joe has all the qualities of a good leader and he leads from the front on and off the field. He is undoubtedly the right person to lead us through the next period at Ebbw Vale RFC.”

Joe said, “I feel extremely privileged to be entrusted with this duty, especially as I will be following in the footsteps of so many club legends.”

Everyone associated with the club sends congratulations to Joe and wishes him the very best for the season.

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.

The season was always going to be a hard and uncompromising challenge with such a big squad turnover in the summer and it turned out to be as tough as we expected. We had four main aims as a club at the start of the season and those were to (i) be competitive and stay in the Welsh Premiership (ii) bring our rugby budget to a manageable and sustainable level (iii) bring through the best local talent and (iv) work closely with the mini and junior sections of the club to create a vibrant hub of rugby in Blaenau Gwent. In big parts I felt we achieved some of those aims and we will continue to work on these and improve on them through season 2020/21.

 The effort and work rate of the squad throughout the season was remarkable. Some players gained valuable Welsh Premiership experience in pressure situations and this will only benefit us long term. As a head coach all you can ask for is maximum effort and the desire to give their all and they certainly did that. We had some bad losses along the way but also some memorable wins no more so than an away victory in RGC when our squad was decimated. The raw emotion and the feeling generated from everyone (fans included) at the final whistle will live long in the memory.

I was really pleased with the new players’ attitude and performances; it’s always hard joining a squad in transition but they can be proud of their contribution to the season and they can look to build on their reputations as strong premiership players in the red, green and white shirt. Senior players (led superbly by Ashley Sweet our skipper) stood up to the challenges we faced as a squad and throughout a hard campaign they never once went into a negative space but kept pushing us forward. Rest assured the squad is extremely tight on and off the field!

There were some real signs of improvement in performance levels post-Christmas and, before the postponement of the season, we felt we were a very tough team to beat and were digging out some positive results. After the hard work of this season we have a positive outlook for the next campaign as we will have a settled squad, some boys are coming back from injuries and everyone is looking forward to getting back together to start working hard and representing Ebbw Vale RFC again.

I would like to thank all the back room and medical team within the club for their hard work throughout the season. They were fantastic and certainly very busy, and I am hoping we had enough players in the physio room this season to last a few seasons. Here’s to an injury free run next year. We are a very small coaching team and the work they all do is second to none but importantly they all care deeply about the club and you can do anything from that base. I would also like to thank Jon, Karl and the rest of the board for their full support and guidance throughout the year as lots of positive work and projects have been done superbly behind the scenes.

We would have loved to finish the season becausewe wanted to play those big games and earn the right to stay up in our own right (we wanted to earn everything we got). We worked all year for that target and although we were 8 points clear and a game in hand of the drop there were still 25 points up for grabs and I am sure some twist and turns were left in the race. But we fully understand the situation and the decision to postpone the season, which was the right, correct and only decision which could be taken. Rugby is not the priority now and rightly so.  

There are bigger problems facing our community and the nation right now and from all of us at Ebbw Vale RFC 1st team squad we wish all the community, club members and supporters the best of health and hopefully everyone is safe and well. More importantly we would like to thank all the key front-line workers especially those in the NHS who are working extremely hard keeping us safe.

In this period of isolation, we have a clear communication plan with all players and staff with weekly check ins and the players are enjoying the new house party app (there is rumour that a team social has never been so full!). They are all working hard maintaining their fitness levels the best they can in the circumstances. Don’t worry this pre-season (whenever it starts!!) will be as hard as ever and our renowned fitness levels and work rate will be worked on fully.

The first game back on Eugene Cross Park next season whenever it is, will be a celebration / testimonial game featuring Ross Jones XV v Rob Sevenoaks XV so keep an eye out for details as they get posted. That will be a great way for the rugby to get back going in Ebbw Vale. I am sure you will look forward to attending and celebrating two great players and stalwarts of Ebbw Vale RFC in recent history. A fun day for everyone will be in store which is desperately needed in these times.  

Lastly thanks for all the support this season, keep safe and I look forward to sharing a beer with you all as soon we can at the club. Take care all.

Best Wishes

Woodsy (3/4/20)

The WRU Board has confirmed (20/03/20) the cancellation of the 2019/20 season for all WRU competitions.

This decision, informed by a comprehensive review of all league and cup competitions, was taken at a Board meeting held on Friday March 20th.

For clarity this decision applies to all WRU cup and league competitions currently underway as well as the cross-border competition between Welsh and Scottish clubs due to kick off in April.

In addition to rugby considerations, a presentation from medical staff addressed three key health and well-being factors:

·         Continuing to play brings with it transmission risks for players, coaches, referees, volunteers and supporters

·         Some competitions require medical support and doctors in attendance

·         Continuing to play brings with it the risk of adding to the unprecedented burden on the NHS and it would be socially irresponsible to do this

A review of the competitions was also considered with the key points being:

·         No team in any league is currently mathematically guaranteed promotion or relegation

·         There are 1,113 WRU Specsavers National League and Indigo Group Premiership games that would need to be played to complete league competitions

·         An absolute minimum of eight weeks would be required to complete the outstanding fixtures

A significant number of potential solutions wasexplored, but ultimately it was agreed that the only consistent and fair option is to cancel the season, meaning:

·         There will be no promotion or relegation in any of the WRU leagues and teams will remain in the league they are currently in

·         Rugby activity remains suspended until further notice and this includes no organised training or games, use of club gym facilities,  organised sessions or unsanctioned gatherings at rugby premises.

‘We are well aware of the colossal amount of effort that goes into our game, on and off the field, across Wales,” said WRU CEO Martyn Phillips.

“We did not take this decision lightly. It is not intended to in any way diminish the games that have already taken place or the efforts of everyone involved.

“We were particularly aware of the impact on clubs with the potential to be promoted or win competitions, but in the end we have had to make the decision to ensure we play our part in safeguarding Welsh communities.

“We know clubs will be disappointed but also hope they will be understanding, given the circumstances.

“We know that rugby clubs are facing extraordinary challenges at the moment.

“We will continue to look at all options to ensure the game in Wales emerges from this period and continues to play the vital role in Welsh life that it has for the last 140 years.”