ARGUABLY the most successful season in the recent history of the Penarth Rugby Club youth section ended with a presentation ceremony at the Rec on Friday.
For the first time ever, the youth team topped their Cardiff Blues League and captain Connor Kavanagh was presented with the handsome trophy at a ceremony attended by teammates, club coaches and helpers.
Although the early part of the season was “frustrating,” as section chairman Richard Smith put it, Penarth Youth won the BC Section of the Blues League ahead of runners-up and former winners Rhiwbina, Fairwater, Pentyrch, Llandaff, Dinas Powys and Barry.
They won eight of their 11 matches, topping the table with 27 points - scoring 315 points, with 101 against. With 40 tries scored, the backs had the lion’s share of the season’s total of 53 tries, a clear statement about the attacking potential of the team and the new approach, in marked contrast to last season when the forwards were the main try scorers. This new approach has been implemented by the coaching team led by Colin Laity, helped by Richard Smith and Andy Pyman, the forwards coach.
This tremendous achievement comes in the footsteps of another momentous achievement for the youngsters - their first ever defeat of the visiting Crawshays Youth on Good Friday. The overall record, including the Crawshays match, is 15 played (the lowest number of games completed in a season for quite a while), with 10 won and five defeats. Unfortunately, many games were cancelled due to the inclement weather and the international season.
Reflecting on the achievements, Richard said: “Fairwater were our bogey side this year, with one score dividing the sides on both occasions, but we defeated our main contender, Rhiwbina, both at home and away.
"All this has been achieved through the efforts of our coaching staff and I want to thank them for their commitment and the considerable efforts they have put in towards developing the players this season. A big thank you goes to Colin Laity, who has been a stalwart throughout the season, giving a massive amount of time, commitment and effort, and also to Andy Pyman, who in his first year of coaching Penarth forwards, has also made a major contribution to the success of the team.”
Eight Youth players who played for the Good Friday winning team - Connor Kavanagh, Miles Jones, Tom Hillman, Kieran Carpenter, Ben Thomas, Luke Crockett, Rob Rees and Mason Goode - made their first team debut at the end of the season and it is hoped the success of the team against the Crawshays will act as an incentive for the talented generation of U16s, coached by former Wales outside-half Dai Evans, to join the ranks of the Penarth Youth next season. The U16s finished their season with a spectacular 42-21 win against a regional Catalonia XV in Barcelona.
Head coach David Evans said: “This was our last game of the season and also the last game as an age-group and it was great for the boys to finish with such a good win, against such a strong side."
Add to this the silverware brought home by the Penarth U14s and U12s coached by former Penarth regulars Dai Williams and Jason Allen respectively, and one gets a fair idea about the amount of talent unearthed by the Seaside club.
Penarth Youth forwards: Connor Kavanagh (captain), Mason Goode, Matthew Holder, Allan Doyle, Nick Boudier, Ben Thomas, Robert Rees, Harry Roberts, Jacob Frost, Iwan Thomas, Matthew Allen, Miles Jones, Luke Crocket, Thomas Murrey, Morgan Clarke, Ryan Thompson and Cenizhan Ziyaeddin.
Penarth Youth backs: Owen Rees, Thomas Hillman, Kieron Carpenter, Sam Laity, George Connelly, James Walsh, Riyad Auckbally, Paul Jones, Thomas Smith, Andy Richards, Adam Shepperd, Spencer Henry Ward, Ifan lewis and Rhys Savory.
Coaches: Colin Laity, Andy Pyman and Richard Smith.