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76 Sport Jones is conscious of the need THE DEVELOPMENT of

to continue the good work with grassroots clubs in the region. “It’s crucial we continue to

work closely with the clubs. I came through the system as a player in Mid Wales so I understand the logistical challenges involved and hope we can continue to break down barriers to enable North Wales players to flourish. “I’ve joined the set-up fairly late

in pre-season but I hope to be able to put my stamp on the side over the next few months. “I will be putting an emphasis

FORMER Wales wing Mark

Jones has been appointed as the new RGC 1404 head coach. The 47-times capped Scarlets

legend, who was attack and skills coach for the West Wales region for five years, helping them reach the Guinness Pro12 play-offs for the first time in seven years, will lead the North Wales Development Region into the Principality Premiership when the new-look 16 team division kicks off next month. Jones, who also carried out the

role of interim attack coach for Wales under caretaker coach Rob Howley in 2013, gained head coach experience at Rotherham last season

before following in the footsteps of Phil Davies, Chris Horsman, Damian McGrath and Clive Griffiths at Parc Eirias. Jones said: “I’m excited to carry

on the work of the previous RGC coaches and have the opportunity to develop even more talented youngsters from North Wales. “It’s a big challenge, because

the Principality Premiership will be a big step up, going up against experienced


and in some cases, professional regional players, but I hope I can help to make RGC an established Premiership side that can continue on its remarkable journey.”

on upskilling players so that they reach their full potential and play to the strengths of the group. I’d like to think I encourage a fast- paced, entertaining brand of rugby that’s enjoyable for both players and spectators, but that we will also be pragmatic when conditions dictate too, capable of winning a winter arm-wrestle!” WRU Head of Rugby Performance, Geraint


added: “It’s good to have Mark back in Welsh rugby and leading the next stage of RGC’s on-field development. “It’s an exciting time for RGC

with promotion into the revamped Principality Premiership, and Mark’s involvement will certainly add to that mix. He understands the semi-professional game in Wales, he understands the regional game and he understands North Wales rugby.”

Hub Officer to boost rugby in Mid Wales A B E R Y S T W Y T H

UNIVERSITY has become the first university in Wales to appoint a dedicated Rugby Hub Officer in what is hoped will be a major boost for the grass-roots of the game. Based at Aberystwyth University’s

Sports Centre, Llyr Thomas’ appointment will be part-funded by the WRU as he aims to revitalise rugby not only at the university but also in the wider community by providing links to local schools, clubs and other WRU supported programmes, such as refereeing and coaching courses. The scheme began on Monday,

August 8, and will run for an initial period of three years, but through close co-operation between the university, WRU and wider partners, it is hoped it can be made sustainable in the long term through raising the profile of rugby and maximising participation at all levels of the game. Working closely with the

university’s Sports Centre and Sports Science Department, Llyr will be able to utilise state-of-the-art facilities to devise specialist training and nutritional regimes, in addition to looking at other aspects of the game, such as statistical analysis. However, the role will equally be

about widening access to male and female players of all abilities and ensuring that those outside the men’s and women’s 1XV and 2XV have the

opportunity to experience rugby. With a degree in sports science, as

a full back for Aberystwyth RFC and having previously worked in a similar rugby officer role with a local school, Llyr will be able to use his experience and contacts as he seeks to build links with the community. Llyr said: “I’m thrilled to be

starting the new role and look forward to the challenge of growing the game and working with students from all backgrounds. For me, the most important thing is that men and women have the opportunity to play – be it those who are aspiring to go on to a higher level, through to students who may want to experience the game by playing touch, sevens or beach rugby. “Not only this, but as somebody

who is closely involved with the rugby scene in Mid Wales, I’ll be aiming to forge close links with local teams and open pathways for players into these clubs and will also be visiting schools and helping them with their rugby set- ups.”

Darren Hathaway, Aberystwyth

University’s Sports Centre General Manager, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in an initiative which aims to grow the grass- roots of the game. It’s vital to have a vibrant university and club scene in order to increase participation, raise standards and give everyone a clear pathway to play. Llyr’s appointment

builds on the back of AUMRFC achievements in winning the Western 3B Conference and the Central Wales Cup final in 2016.” WRU relationships manager

Adrian Evans said: “We are thrilled to have Aberystwyth University on board as our first higher education rugby hub. Universities offer an excellent opportunity to engage and retain young adults within all formats of rugby, and having a hub officer will provide additional opportunities for students to play, but also coach, referee and manage games and teams. “The aim is to cater for everyone

who signs up for rugby in Freshers’ week and beyond, whether they want to progress and play 15-a-side rugby competitively, or enjoy social, intra- mural touch rugby. We know that a large proportion of students stay in the area after completing their studies, and it’s a key priority for us to make links for the long-term with local clubs.” Julie McKeown, Head of Marketing

at Aberystwyth University, said: “We are really pleased to be working closely with WRU culminating in being the first university to have a Hub officer. Rugby is an integral force in Wales and is a way of bringing communities together. As a university with a strong community focus, we are delighted to be part of this great initiative to help young people through sport.”

women’s football has been held back by ‘petty nationalism’, say the Welsh Conservatives. Football Associations of Wales,

Scotland and Northern Ireland blocked the entry of a Team GB to the women’s football competition this year, in a huge blow to the development of the game. Welsh Conservative Leader,

Andrew RT Davies, said moves to block entry were ‘unforgivable’ and said they ‘must never happen again’. His colleague, Russell George AM, the Shadow Sports Secretary, said the entry of a women’s team could have inspired a new generation of girls to take up the sport. Both have called for talks to

establish agreement for a Team GB football team, competing only in future Olympic Games. FIFA have previously given

firm assurances that the status of individual nations would not be affected by such a move. Andrew RT Davies said: “Rio

2016 was an incredible opportunity to promote women’s football on the biggest stage, and petty nationalism held back the development of the game. It’s unforgivable and must never happen again. “We’ve had repeated assurances

that the autonomy of our national teams won’t be affected, and yet we


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New head coach of RGC 1404 Women’s football held back

find ourselves back here once again. “Is there a single person out

there who would argue that the women’s game across the UK is in such rude health that we can afford to pass up this kind of chance to build momentum, or to develop the grassroots and increase the tournament experience of our best players? “A packed stadium watched

Sweden knock the hosts out this week, with millions more watching at home, and I couldn’t help but imagine what might have been. “I’m sure I’m not alone in

feeling that the absence of a Great Britain women’s football team at the Olympics has been a devastating blow for the game.” Shadow Cabinet Secretary for

Sport, Russell George, said: “Unlike men’s football, the Olympic Games is on a par with the World Cup for the women’s game and attracts huge interest across the globe. “This was a fantastic opportunity

to build on the development of the sport here in Wales, with a British team to inspire a new generation of girls to get involved. “Players like Jess Fishlock have

been deprived of an opportunity to get major international experience, and to represent Team GB in the way that so many other Welsh sports stars do at the Olympics.”

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