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Promising players snapped up

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SEVENTEEN under 15s and 16s Rugby League players from Wales have now been snapped up by Super League sides for their academy systems.

This includes 11 of the Wales under 16 side who beat England last week for the first time ever, winning 18-10 in Cardiff.

Twins Ewan and Ieuan Badham from West Wales Raiders and Milford Haven Comprehensive School, who had already been scouted by City of Hull Academy before the Wales games, are now joined by Raiders team mate Iestyn Hopkins who has been attending Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera.

A further five under 15s from the Raiders, who didn’t play against England, have also signed at Hull. These are Morgan Chell (Ysgol Dyffryn Taf), Trystan Rawlings, Keiron Lewis and Alex Jones (all Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera) and Joe Hawkins (Cwmtawe Community School).

The signings have resulted from the partnership that West Wales Raiders have created with Hull coupled with the players’ performances for Wales under 16 or the West Wales regional side in the recent Origin games.

In addition, earlier this week, Aber Valley Wolves trio Ewan Challenger (who was in the Wales squad this year but wasn’t in the side against England), Kyle Huish and Jacob Lee signed scholarship forms for Wigan Warriors. The trio were scouted by the Warriors throughout the Wales under 16s programme, which also included two wins over Ireland and a joint training session against the Wigan scholarship side.

Wales under 16 coach Jason Seddon said: “Having so many players in these set ups is a great statement from our point of view. We always knew we had the talent here, we just needed it to be recognised.

“Super League clubs focussing on talent in Wales has been a contentious issue in the past as we’ve had kids more than capable to be in Super League academies but have not been picked up. The exposure wasn’t there. Now it has been, especially following results in recent weeks, people have picked up on it.

“The lads will go up and train with their clubs on a regular basis, get more experience and get coaching with players of a good standard and will bring it back to their community clubs. Travel has been an issue in the past but now I hear that plans are in place for them to travel, train and adapt. I don’t see travel being an issue, they’re good enough and I think they’ll progress.

“When they get to the end of under 16, a decision will be made of whether to go into the 19s and then they could move to the north of England.”

Seddon says that the Wales set up are now planning for more players to hopefully be scouted by Super League clubs, with the successful Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf side, all of whom are currently aged 14, being high on the list.

“I know people thought we may not even be competitive this year but the standard we have I thought we’d do very well,” Seddon adds. “We’ve the Glantaf lads qualifying for the under 16 side for next year plus there are more on our radar from all around Wales, north and south.

“It’s only going to keep rolling and get bigger and better. We at Wales Rugby League have to not only keep this momentum going but make it grow so we can build successful sides right throughout the international set-up.”

Sport

Rugby and Girlguiding join forces to provide new opportunities

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WELSH Rugby is joining forces with Girlguiding Cymru to offer new opportunities to girls across Wales.

As the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women, Girlguiding conduct an annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey, collecting the views of girls and young women aged 7 to 21 across the UK on a wide range of issues.

The latest survey revealed that girls and young women are encountering gender stereotypes in all areas of their lives – from their peers to the media, causing them to change their behaviour because of the pressure they feel to be or act a certain way. 55% of girls ages 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.

When asked what sports girls aged 11 to 21 want to do at school, 22% want to play rugby. Through the newly found partnership with Girlguiding Cymru, the WRU is looking forward to introducing rugby to girls who do not have the chance to participate through school and show them that girls can play rugby regardless of their gender.

Members of all sections of Girlguiding Cymru (starting with Rainbows) will now be able to work towards a Welsh Rugby badge, guide leaders have been put through a WRU coaching qualification in order to start introducing rugby games within their girlguiding units, and there will be opportunities to link up with girls-only summer clusters around Wales.

Wales Women international and rugby sevens Olympian Jasmine Joyce, a former guide herself, is an ambassador for the scheme. She said: “When I was in the guides, the activities tended to mainly involve arts and crafts and problem solving so I think this is a brilliant addition for girlguiding. You make some of your best friends in rugby, and it’s great that we’re working with the clusters to provide new opportunities for guides to get involved in our game.”

Anne Mary Simpson is a 16 year old Young Sports Leader for Gwent Girlguiding. She said: “I’m keen to join a rugby club myself after getting a taste for it on the training day. It’s fun and so energetic, I think it’s something the girls will really enjoy, especially at their age.”

Penny Christie From Second Narberth Browies added: “I think it’s brilliant. We can teach the girls how to work as a team. It’s good for their health and it’s so much fun, our girls will really love it, they are up for anything and this opportunity will be amazing.”

Gabriella Doyle, Sports Development Officer for Girlguiding Cymru said: “After receiving a Calls4Action grant from Sport Wales, we have been able to provide new opportunities for thousands of our members and a ‘Give it a go’ attitude with regards to getting more young women and children engaged in sport and physical literacy.

“Rugby is such a momentous occasion in Wales, the women’s team have done so well so it’s great that our members can be part of this too. We know that our members are very excited about this partnership with Welsh Rugby Union and it could help change the perceptions for many young girls across Wales.”

The WRU believes there is a place for everyone in rugby and is keen to work with Girlguiding to provide new opportunities and make connections with the girls-only clusters around Wales.

Katy Evans, WRU Game Changer for Women and Girls said: “The collaboration with Girlguiding will help both organisations in our aims to provide more opportunities for girls and young women, in terms of playing, but also coaching or volunteering. Hopefully we can help create some new role models for the guides and encourage more women and girls into our game.”

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County Cricket fixtures released

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THE fixtures for the 2018 season of the Pembroke County Cricket League have been released with the first games being played on Sunday, April 22.

Last season the Division 1 title picture was thrown into chaos as Carew declared on 18-1 meaning nearest challengers Cresselly would not be able to win the title.

Carew were subsequently relegated to Division 2 for the way in which they achieved the title and they have been given an intriguing local derby to start things off on the first day, against Division 3 champions Cresselly Seconds.

Back in Division 1, Cresselly’s first team are at home as they take on Division 2 champions Llangwm in what will be a tough test for the visitors.

Fellow promoted side Burton start with a home game but they will face a strong Haverfordwest team.

Kilgetty, who survived relegation because of Carew’s demotion, will start at home against Lawrenny.

St Ishmaels welcome Neyland and Whitland are at home as they take on Johnston.

Elsewhere in Division 2, Narberth, who finished third last season will take on newly promoted Hook.

Relegated Pembroke start with an away game as they travel to Haverfordwest Seconds.

Llechryd are at home to Whitland II and Saundersfoot play Stackpole.

Llanrhian will start life in Division 3 with an away game against Lamphey while Herbrandston, who just missed out on promotion last year, face Haverfordwest Thirds.

Lawrenny II start with a local derby against Carew Seconds while Division 4 Champions Llechryd Seconds are away to Pembroke Dock.

Fellow promoted side Narberth Seconds are away as they take on Neyland Seconds.

Last season’s Division 5 Champions Laugharne begin their Division 4 campaign with a game away to Llanrhian Seconds.

Crymych are at home against Burton Seconds while Hook Seconds face St Ishmaels Seconds.

Johnston Seconds who were relegated from the third division will start with a home game against Hundleton.

Llangwm Second will start at home to Saundersfoot Seconds.

In Division 5, Carew Thirds start with a home game against Kilgetty Seconds.

Haverfordwest’s fourth team are at home to Neyland’s third team and Stackpole Seconds are at home to Cresselly’s third team.

Finally there is a local derby as Pembroke Seconds host Pembroke Dock Seconds.

The second round of fixtures will also take place on a Sunday the following week before reverting to the traditional Saturday fixtures from Saturday, May 5.

A full list of fixtures for each Division can be found on the Pembroke County Cricket Club Website.

The Pembroke County Cricket Club AGM is set to take place on Wednesday, February 28, with a number of proposals set to be voted on.

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Croft warms up with big win

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CARDIGAN ABC’s Ioan Croft launched his build-up towards this season’s championships with a notable win over Ibraheem Sulemaan in a Wales Select v England Select match at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Saturday (Feb 10).

Now campaigning at 57 kg, the Crymych southpaw began strongly and proceeded to hold the centre of the ring for most of the fight, throwing sharp and accurate combinations mixed with his usual solid defence.

“I felt he won comfortably and was surprised when he was awarded a split,” Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft said afterwards.

“For me, it was almost a technically perfect fight where Ioan took the lead and was in control almost from start to finish.

“It was his first fight of three minutes per round and he did show signs of tiredness at the end of the second, but had recovered to some extent by the third.”

Unfortunately, twin brother Garan lost his chance for a Three Nations challenge later this season when he was on the receiving end of a unanimous points decision against George Bance, a short, powerful hooker.

Although the Crymych 16-year-old boxed well in the first round, his English opponent dragged him into a scrappy, close range fight in the second.

“I was very disappointed,” commented Croft senior. “Garan was boxing so well before Christmas and now seems to have fallen back into his old scrappy ways – we have some work to do to get him back on track.”

Promising Cardigan ABC schoolboy Mikey O’Sullivan was edged out on a split decision against Dominic Janes (Splott ABC) at Splott’s Conservative Club the previous night.

In what proved an intense encounter, O’Sullivan landed some strong right hands in a contest which could have gone either way.

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