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