By Tony Crimp

OLD Penarthians RFC are pleased to announce that the 1st XV captain for the forthcoming 2021/22 season will be Chris Poole.

Chris is a product of Penarth RFC Youth team and he made his senior rugby debut for our neighbours before playing 13 games for Old Pens in 2008/09.

His all-round talents however dictated that he should play rugby at a higher level as he followed older brother Mike into Championship and Premiership rugby.

He eventually joined Old Penarthians from Llanharan RFC in 2018/19, although in the intervening period he had played several games on permit from his parent clubs.

Old Penarthians Mariners Ladies captain Judy Davies

 Old Penarthians' Mariners Ladies captain Judie Davies 

Chris, who recently celebrated his 31st birthday, is currently playing his rugby at either winger of fullback although he has also played at outside half.

Since re-joining the club Chris has played 30 games scoring an impressive 20 tries.

He has also kicked one conversion.

He takes over the captaincy from Rhys Lakin who held the position for four seasons.

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic cut short his third year in charge at the end of February 2020 away at Gwernyfed and of course there was no community rugby played at all in 2020/21.

Rhys however is to be congratulated for his commitment to the club and he leaves a well-balanced and experienced team on which Chris can build.

Rhys indicates that he will still be playing however the off-field duties will be passed on allowing him to concentrate on his flourishing construction company and the responsibilities that will come with being a new father in the next couple of weeks.

Chris will be helped with the management of the team by Chris Thorne as team manager and club coaches Jake Thomas and Luke Ford.

He can also depend on the support of 1st XV regulars, Sam Hall, Peter Bennett, Tom Sidford, Joel deClaire, Stuart Clarke, Tom Hillman, Jon Crimp and Nathan Facey.

What form the season will take is still not finally determined but the WRU, in association with the latest advice from Welsh Government, has launched a Pathway to Participation which includes the following:

The club has just returned to training with an emphasis on skills and fitness-based activities with touch rugby introduced towards the end of the sessions.

From mid-June: Return to competitive contact rugby at 7 and 10-a-side.

From mid-July: Friendly 15-a-side matches sanctioned under agreed modified laws.

August to November: Return to 15-a-side WRU competitions, possibly in a knock-out format.

December to mid-January: Winter break

From mid-January: Return to WRU league rugby. League structure and promotion/relegation criteria to be defined by the WRU prior to commencement of the competition.

One thing that Old Penarthians can confirm however is that senior mens’ training will commence on Thursday 6th May at 6.30pm.

Training will then take place weekly on a Thursday until such time as the season is defined in more detail.

All existing players and anyone interested in joining the club are welcome to these sessions where you will be assured of a warm welcome in a motivating environment under two experienced coaches.

The Mariners Ladies section of Old Penarthians have also elected their captain for season 2021/22 and they will be led by Judie Davies.

Judie and her team are set to start their training under the watchful eye of coach Stu Barter on Wednesday 28th April.

Future sessions will also be held on Wednesday evenings commencing at 7pm.

Judie is looking forward to the challenges ahead and is enthusiastic about growing this new and vital part of the club and encourages anyone, whatever their experience, to join and ‘have a go’.

Any player will be made to feel part of a friendly, inclusive atmosphere where rugby is played for enjoyment.

Returning to the Men’s section of the club, the 2nd XV captain cannot yet be announced as two candidates have been nominated and a ballot of RFC members will be required to determine the outcome.

The nominees are the present incumbent Alex Lewis looking to be re-elected for the fourth season and Craig Haines, looking for his first year in office.

Both have represented the first XV and will bring experience to the role as they look to build up squad numbers and playing success.

They both encourage as many players as possible to attend the weekly training sessions as there will be plenty of opportunities to improve skills and make the 2nd XV more competitive and potentially vie for positions in the first team.