CARMARTHEN ATHLETIC & Their Role With Ken Owens & Grand Slam Success


The Athletic was founded on D-Day during World War 2 back in 1944 and takes pride in its community links to the Town and neighbouring villages. I spoke with fixture secretary Nigel Herbert about the club and Ken Owens.

When does rugby begin at Carmarthen Athletic?
Under 7s all the way up to under 16s and then youth team too. At the moment the junior section is quite good and it is all down to the volunteers who give up their time to help out, without them then none of it would happen.

Club in Community.

Our first team, nobody gets paid so it is all about the community. The club has its indoor training barn which is used by the rugby club but also the cricket club and others in the community as well. The club is there to facilitate the community anyway that we can. All the players come from the local community and surrounding area because we don’t pay, it is about providing rugby for the kids etc….

Ken Owens Inspiration
It is massive to see a player like Ken Owens as a great supporter and ambassador for the club. He’s often here watching the firsts or the seconds when time allows him, he mixes with everyone in the club, everyone knows him and always great to see him and Ryan Elias. Ken is one who has come right through the system and it is highly important for younger players to see its attainable and achievable. Players like Rhodri King in the under 18s set up too, it just shows that it is possible and not just an improbable dream.

Ken Owens the youngster
Ken Owens definitely stood out at a young age. He played alongside Rhys Priestland who came to us about under 12s. They both played together and had that attitude that you have to have, work hard outside training and they are always the ones who make the top level. From an early age you could see that Ken was a good player, you never know how good because you don’t know what is going on outside of your own bubble but could tell he was a quality player. He was always a big boy, not massive but had a massive heart, always physical and good getting around the pitch. The basics were good, ball carrying, good hands, good all-round handling and running skills. I’m hoping he gives us a season before he retires, I think he will to be honest with you.

Clubs role
Obviously a part of his development is the voluntary people who taught him skills until he was 18 and these coaches deserve a lot of credit for the input that they made into his career. These players career don’t start when they join the Scarlets, there is a lot of work put in before then and from the family too.

HENDY RFC & Their Role In Grand Slam Success

HENDY RFCHendy RFC celebrated 125 years in rugby last year and for a small village it has contributed greatly to Welsh rugby, Josh Adams is the most recent player from Hendy to wear the Welsh jersey. I spoke with first team coach Chris Morgan about the club and Josh.

When does rugby begin at Hendy?

Starts at under 6’s but they don’t play until 7. We have quite a few age teams, under 7s, 9s, 11s, 15s and youth, it could always be better. As first team coach, you always want to bring young talent through as you’d rather do that than bring players in from outside. It can be difficult to find some players for some positions, props for example and so it is much better if you have a player coming through and generally the local players are naturally more likely to stay. The club is doing really well from that point of view, where Hendy is located is a dense population of rugby clubs and as a small village we certainly do well.

Womens/girls rugby

We had a very successful under 18s women’s team but the WRU decided against us having a women’s team as Pontarddulais had one and so I think they deemed that there wasn’t the demand for both. It was a shame as we had 25-30 players, half of which were local.Club in Community
The club is the life hub of the village, it is the only place that you can go and have a drink these days in the village apart from the Black Horse. The club itself is going from strength to strength, meetings, funerals, christenings, weddings. The first team being in division one has boosted the interest in the club and we are in a good position. What is it like for the youngsters around the club to be see the likes of Josh Adams playing for Wales?
The club are proud of both Josh Adams and Aaron Shingler. Both come in and help coach the first team, bring in A-Level professionalism, they do as much as they can, help support the juniors, here for awards nights etc…  Josh has been away in Worcester obviously but when he is back he always comes and supports the club and give something back. He’s grounded, heads not too big to fit through the door, he’s just normal and I think it is important for them to come back but it is great to have their support.

Did Josh stand out as a kid?

I coached Josh for about 2 years when under 8s and 9s. He was playing a year up then but even then you could see the skills he had, he was already really fast, fast footwork, could beat defenders and was a special talent. He had instinctive skills, you can’t teach that but he could beat defenders for fun from an early age. He was just an honest hard-working kid from about 8 to 12. He moved onto Pontybremen then with his friend Steffan Jones and then onto Carmarthen Athletic for youth before the Scarlets took him on and then to Worcester. Josh came back to play a number of games for the senior team at Hendy too, he came to the village to play with the friends that he’d played with in juniors. It is great to see how he is doing, he’s such an honest player, I remember him missing a tackle last year against England, I think it was on Jonny May but he held his hands up and worked hard didn’t hide away.   

COULD THE OSPREYS LEAVE THE WRU AND JOIN THE ENGLISH RUGBY UNION?

It is a very bold statement from the region who are clearly incredibly annoyed with the way that the week has unfolded. Backed into a corner, anything seems possible but this seems like a clear hint that we could be seeing a potential break away from the Welsh Rugby Union, or at least a threat of it, something which the new chairman Rob Davies has history of doing.

COULD IT HAPPEN?
In short, yes and the new Ospreys chairman Rob Davies has already done it before with Swansea RFC in what was dubbed as the ‘Rebel Season’. In 1998, Swansea and Cardiff RFC refused to play in the WRU sanctioned Welsh Premiership. Their position came about after the WRU rejected requests by the clubs to pursue changes to the league structure in Welsh club rugby and in particular to set up a cross-border league involving other clubs in Britain.

Both clubs were removed from Wales’ entry into the 1998–99 Heineken Cup and would later be fined £150,000 each by the WRU for three breaches of their regulations. The clubs opted to play friendly matches with English clubs instead. At the end of the season, an agreement was reached between the two clubs and the Welsh Rugby Union that allowed for their return to the Welsh Premier Division, with clauses that would allow them to leave the Welsh league and join the English Premiership in the event a cross-border British league was not set-up by the 2000-01 season.

Davies and Swansea ended the season winning the Welsh Cup with Scot Gibbs making his famous ‘men against boys comment’ after the game against Llanelli which was a remarkable end to the rebel season for the All Whites.

WHERE WOULD THEY GO?
Back in 1999 Swansea looked to join the English system and this could well be the most appealing avenue for Davies and the Ospreys. Obviously Swansea City Football Club play in the English League and there could be advantages to such a move for the rugby club. The English Premiership will offer competitive matches week in week out and the novelty of being the only Welsh club in the league would be likely to add some extra media attention and bumper crowds. 
 
The English route is a possibility but the Celtic nations could be a more likely destination given that firstly…………….

TYCROES TOO STRONG FOR LOUGHOR IN HIGH WINDS

TYCROES 20 – 3 LOUGHOR
In rain and wind that made conditions difficult, Tycroes were the deserved winners in this mid-table clash and the win meant they changed places in the league.

Playing with the wind first half the Rams kept play in the Loughor half and put the visitors scrum in difficulty with their powerful scrummaging. Flanker Sam Icke was driven over from a maul for the first try. Scrum half Lee Evans added a penalty but with Loughor defending well the home team could not add to their lead. On a rare sortie into the Tycroes half Loughor had a penalty in front of the posts which full back Rhys Gear kicked, making the half time score 8-3.

DUNVANT WEATHER THE GORSEINON STORM

Gorseinon kicked off with a strong cross wind in support but Dunvant very quickly mounted their first attack resulting in a penalty in front of the posts. Logic says in these conditions to take the points but scrum half Ben Ley took a quick tap and go, and after some dogged defending the ball was passed left  for flanker Jamie Nicholas to score, Adam Williams-Parry converting for a 7-0 lead after only 3 minutes.

Dunvant were on fire early doors as in the 9th minute centre Mark Robins scored for 12-0. Shortly afterwards Robins had his second as he broke through the defence again. Neither try was converted in difficult windy conditoins. The bonus point try came in after just 21 minutes with scrum half Ben Ley’s pace causing problems for the hosts, Adam Williams-Parry converting for Dunvant to lead 24-0 with three quarters of the game still to play.

BONUS POINT FOR PROMOTION CHASING PENCLAWDD

PENCLAWDD 26-7 FISHGUARD
On a cold and blustery day in Penclawdd, the home side overcame the visitors with an excellent first half display. Penclawdd were quick out of the blocks with early pressure forcing a penalty on the Fishguard 5m line. A slick driving lineout allowed openside flanker Danny James to go over, only for him to be denied by the referee judging the ball to be held up. From the resulting scrum an excellent dummy and step allowed outside-half Ryan James to score Penclawdd’s first try, converted by………..

DARTS: SWANSEA YOUNGSTERS SHOWCASE TALENT

With darts becoming a global sport and growing even bigger in stature, the Junior Darts Cooperation have been giving the youngsters the opportunity to showcase their talents. Four youngster from Swansea travelled to Dorchester for the youth tour 3&4 to try their luck on the youth circuit.

Tour 3 seen Taylor Smoldon have possibly the worst draw possible as he was paired with 13 year old BDO youth world champion Leighton Bennett in the round of 64. Although the 3-0 scoreline looks completely one sided that was not the case, where 16 year old Smoldon, who averaged 65.60 for the game, had an opportunity to level at 1-1 but missed darts at a double proved costly. In the last 64 there were also exits for Ben Carr and Ethan Haymes.

Ben losing out to Connor Arberry 3-0 which once again does not reflect the game where Carr could of and maybe should have been level at 1-1. Carr averaging a very respectful 64.3 and at 12 years old is a very good prospect. Haymes did manage to win a leg in his defeat to James Beeton where missed darts went begging for a 2-1 lead.

Haymes who turns 14 next month averaged 61.2.In the round of 32 where Liam Butler found himself after a bye, he found his opponent on fire. a 3-0 loss against Luke Littler where Butler averaged 66.0, whilst Littler threw 82.0Onto tour 4 where there was success for Ben Carr(55.0) against Craig Johnson where he won 3-0 and Taylor Smoldon who threw impressively in his victory against well travelled Lewis Gurney. In a high quality and very close contest it was Taylor who called on his International experience with a 19 dart leg in the decider to average 77.8 and a place in round 32………..

161 CHECKOUT WINS IT FOR CARMARTHENS JAMIE LEWIS V FORMER WORLD CHAMPION ADRIAN LEWIS

The first major after the world championships is the ever popular UK open held at Minehead Butlins. With the tournament known as the FA cup of darts, it pits the amateurs against the best in the world.     

Due to their world rankings Carmarthen’s Jamie Lewis and pontyberem’s Jonny Clayton entered the fray at round 4. Jamie being drawn to play the world number 11 and 2x world champion Adrian Lewis was always going to have his hands full.    

At 4-0 down things did not seem rosy for ‘fireball’ but the Welshman seemingly from nowhere reeled off 5 legs in a row and going into the break at 5-5. With the tie now level and Jamie Lewis now finding rhythm a fantastic 10 dart leg after 7 perfect darts swayed the contest into his favour.

SWANSEA TITANS REACH SEMI-FINAL IN AMERICAN FOOTBALL THRILLER

After clinching 2nd place in the Premiership South the Titans faced off at home against the current national champions the Durham Saints. This was the first time the Titans had ever played a premiership play-off game at home with their two previous attempts being away loses to Stirling and Loughborough.


 This time on home turf and coming off the back of a convincing win against UWE the Titans were confident. Durham play a very similar style of football to Swansea with a spread offence. This is something that suits Swansea who have a very strong secondary with the likes of Filton graduate corner-back Ben Cooper and American safety Peter Doyle who has 13 years playing experience.


The Titans started strong preventing the inside run and forcing the Durham’s agile Quarter Back to scramble, eventually forcing the turnover with a fumble recovery by defensive star Gethyn Chadwick.  The Titans offence took to the field and picked up right where they finished against UWE instantly gaining a 20 yard run up the middle through running back Luke Patmore but came up short of punching in the score.

The Defence once again showed why they are the best the South has to offer keeping the Durham QB fairly contained with Todun Soetan and Peter Doyle taking him down while the rest of the Defence prevented any big plays from either their receivers or running backs and forcing the punt.