Old Penarthians get set for new season
8:40am Thursday 30th August 2012 in Sport
PRE-SEASON TRIALS: Old Penarthians' players are pictured during a pre-season trial match with Tongwynlais. The club also played similar games against Cardiff Saracens and Cowbridge. Pictures: Ken Langley.
WITH August slipping away and the “summer” coming to an end, it means the rugby season at Old Penarthians starts on Saturday, September 1.
It doesn’t seem too long ago that the 2011/12 season finished and the club were celebrating the successes of the tour to Perranporth, the Sevens and the annual dinner.
Not that the players have had much time off as they have been attending the popular touch rugby sessions in May and June and have been in full-time training since mid-July. These twice weekly sessions have been supplemented by two ‘cross-training’ workouts at a local gymnasium, and they were hard work for all those that attended.
All the preparations have been overseen by the re-appointed head coach, Jeff Norman, now serving his fourth term with the club, and newly-appointed assistant coach Mark Bow.
Mark has been a valued playing member of the club for many years, in between fighting fires and wars, and it is hoped that his effervescent personality will rub off on the players and bring some fun into their rugby.
Both coaches will, however, want to ensure that the players will be focused on the playing side of the game and will want to see an improvement in performances from those achieved last season.
Also sure to influence the performance of the 1st XV will be Lloyd Davey, the newly-appointed captain of the team who will have most of the same players available to him from last year plus a few new faces. Lloyd has already shown his commitment to the club by attending the first of the trial matches at Tongywnlais only three hours after touching down from his summer holiday. Needless to say he did not join the team on their post-match festivities.
The club also held trial matches at home against Cardiff Saracens and Cowbridge and it was pleasing that good numbers attended all the trials and, in total, over 30 different players took part. For the record all three games were victories for the Old Pens.
The rest of the team management is made up of first team manager Tony Purnell, Ian Buckley (2nd XV captain) and Robert Crimp, the veteran’s captain, who also doubles up as 2nd XV manager.
The club for season 2012/13 remains in Division 5SE of the WRU National Leagues but, due to promotions and sideways moves between leagues, there are no fewer than five new opponents for the first team to face this term.
Promoted from our league last season were champions Old Illtydians and runners-up Cilfynydd. Clwb Rygbi Caerdydd were also promoted to Division 4 due to the reorganisation of some of the leagues after the disbandment of BP Llandarcy and the demotion of Tonmawr from Division 1 to Division 6 because their playing strength was to be considerably weakened by their players seeking other clubs.
Local rivals Dinas Powys have moved sideways to Division 5 South Central and they are joined by Ferndale and Treherbert. The new teams in the division are, therefore, Blackwood Stars, Caerau Ely, Markham, Pontllanfraith and Ynysowen.
But the season starts with an away fixture to Abertysswg, who were at one time chasing promotion last season until they fell away towards the end of the year. The other retained opponents are Canton, Cefn Coed, Deri, St Albans and St Josephs.
This season the 2nd XV will also be entertaining new opponents in the S A Brain CADRU Leagues because of further reorganisation which saw the side promoted to the Premier Division. This may not have been a promotion that the club sought but it offers the opportunity to all players to test themselves at a stronger competitive level and will ensure that anyone gaining selection to the first team will have had sufficient experience.
The 2nd XV kick off their campaign with an away fixture to Llanishen on Saturday. Kick off at the usual time of 2.30pm.
At the end of the recent annual general meeting, Mel Jones, who was re-elected chairman for season 2012/13, wished everyone associated with the club, from the youngest of the Mini and Junior Section to the oldest of the Veterans, a very successful season and it is hoped that these weekly columns can keep you abreast with the fortunes that befall the Old Penarthians in the coming nine months.