26 June 2020 / Club News

WRU Status Update

Welsh rugby is all about zoom calls, facebook lives and webinars for Chairman Gareth Davies at the moment but he is determined to find positive outcomes from the current pandemic – plus preparing grassroots for rugby (literally), National Council election hustings and much, much more in the latest Status Update for member clubs.

There was an image of a Beatles album cover, ‘Let it be’, on Twitter, which someone had captioned as though it was a Zoom call – Paul McCartney is shouting at John Lennon to unmute his mic, George Harrison is laughing and Ringo’s expression is somewhere between disinterest and disdain.

It went viral because it struck a chord with so many of us around the country – and elsewhere – who have been used to a new way of not just working during lockdown, but also meeting and socialising generally.

And, in the spirit of observing the positives that can arise from a crisis, we have genuinely found new methods of interaction that I believe will be here to stay.

Over the weekend it was my great privilege to join Ystradgynlais Rugby Club for a live Facebook broadcast to their club members, and anyone else who wished to tune in, which included an online quiz and another guest, Richard Hibbard.

I joked with our host, club stalwart Gareth Thomas, as he welcomed me that I had nothing better to do with my Saturday night in present circumstances, but these regular broadcasts by the club are just one example of what can be achieved will full use of the technological resources available to us all.

This week alone I’ve joined a Six Nations Council call and ‘virtually’ met with the British & Irish Lions committee to take part in the global debate about our international calendar – where we have concerned ourselves with the immediate 2021 calendar and also our longer term ambitions for the year ahead.

In ordinary circumstances this would have meant a three-day trip to Dublin for all participants, but with the simple use of technology the associated cost and inconvenience is avoided.

But more than this, we have all found that work and life can be more fully integrated.  Video calls give us insight into our colleague’s living rooms, dogs jump around on screen and uninvited children join in calls – and all of this gives us welcome insight into each other’s lives.

An article in The Spectator this month sites a recent survey by Deloitte found 70 per cent of employees were enjoying the experience of working from home, while just 10 per cent have had a negative experience.

Last year, apparently, just 5 per cent of adults in employment worked primarily from home in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics and a slightly larger number — about 12 per cent — spent some of the week working from home.

And, with advent of the current pandemic, up to half of employed adults began working from home – the technology works.

As a Union of member clubs this will make us more efficient, more joined up and better able to communicate than ever before as we emerge from lockdown.

For an organisation of more than 320 member clubs, to know you are now all out there at the other end of a webcam ready to offer your views, advice and opinions at the touch of a button could be, not to overstate things, pretty revolutionary for us if we harness the technology properly.

The three candidates for the vacant post of National Council Director are this week hosting their hustings via a ‘drop in’ zoom call, so that members my question them further as they make an informed decision about their preferred candidate from a strong and impressive field.

In the past this would have been done in person, with candidates hosting meetings in Welsh rugby’s different districts at relevant club houses and we will – one day soon we hope – return to our clubhouses. But we must not lose the efficiencies we have created for ourselves during this period when this happens and we must continue to embrace the new technologies we have found in this way.

We have always sought feedback from our member clubs, but this can be a cumbersome exercise.  There are regular District meetings and we try to reach out regularly, we issue messages by email as well as post and ask clubs to fill in surveys and audits which directly feed our policies and strategies and, of course, we host our Annual General Meeting each autumn.

But in the new world order we will be able to connect on a different level and the onus is very much on us to make sure that this will happen.

Those individuals who volunteer their free time to help clubs around Wales are the glue which holds our whole game together, their impact is immeasurable and their time is precious.

We have learnt already that technology can help us treat their time as premium, but also allow us directly access their unique knowledge and expertise as we seek to share ideas, evaluate progress and problem solve together – with all this making for a much more interactive, and therefore representative, Welsh Rugby Union.

Stay safe
Gareth Davies
WRU Chairman

Getting grassroots ready – Field Preparation and Community Guidelines

Our community director Geraint John has clarified how the latest Welsh Government [COVID] guidelines, in force from Monday 22 June, affect Welsh community rugby.

While team and contact sports are not yet permitted to resume training, practical advice is now available to clubs on getting pitches ready to welcome players when appropriate and in line with government guidance.

The guidelines around training practices are unchanged and so the only change to the Union’s advice to clubs is, providing clubs can guarantee safe working practices, work on maintaining pitches is now encouraged following three months of inactivity.

A Pitch Preparation Guidance document has been drawn up with the Grounds Management Association, which covers everything from the recommended length of grass for out of use periods, to aeration, irrigation, local repairs and control of thatch.(CLICK HERE ) or More here: 

“While we are all missing rugby activity, we must be part of the solution to controlling Covid-19 in Wales and not become a cause for increasing the infection rate,” said John.

“We are working very closely with the Welsh Government on all areas of the game, from community to elite and commercial activities.

“Our advice at the moment is to stay active within the Welsh Government guidelines which means train individually, with members of your household, or, in line with government advice – stay local and with members of one other household.

“However, following Friday’s government update, we have now entered an important preparation stage and we advise clubs to take on board this pitch preparation advice which is the first step before we can resume any rugby activity on club pitches.”

More here: 

Return to Rugby webinars

Following a series of webinars held last week with members clubs giving advice and explaining processes, next steps and a potential timeline for returning to rugby clubs have been reporting back to their own members.

We have seen some excellent summaries, such as the one issued by Aberavon Green Stars Club Operations Manager Geoff Davies, who volunteered for the role which all clubs have been asked to fill.

Geoff produced a bullet point guide for his players coaches and managers, using his own unique knowledge of his club to identify the salient points from the webinar in what is a complicated subject and this is exactly the way to do it!

“We are grateful that so many of our clubs have appointed a Club Operations Manager and we will continue to liaise directly with them as we begin to Return to Rugby, ” adds Geraint John.

Facilities Grant on hold

A number of queries have been received from clubs over recent weeks asking when the Facilities Grant programme will be re-opening.

Due to the well publicised impact of the pandemic on current finances, the Facilities Grant has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

From the outset of the Pandemic lockdown, our aim was to emerge from the crisis with all teams and clubs intact and operating with a sustainable future.

This continues to be our priority and with this in mind, the Club Development Team will continue to work tirelessly with clubs over the next 12 months to ensure sustainable development plans are in place.

To aid this sustainable approach, we are currently working to produce content of both ‘bitesize’ visual learning and templates addressing key topics linked to how a sustainable club can operate in the future.

The aim will be to provide clubs with the knowledge, guidance and tools to review current practices and adopt sustainable ways of operating.

A Facilities Working Group has also been established and will be tasked with ensuring facilities are ready to accommodate club-based activities when Welsh Government guidance allows.

The aim is for clubs to emerge from the current pandemic with clear, concise and focussed objectives and able to operate sustainably.

National Council Member hustings

Clubs have been invited to attend individual conference call sessions via Zoom with each candidate in relation to the election process for the role of one National Council Member.

The session with John Manders will take place at 6.30pm tonight (Wednesday 24 June); the session with Nigel Davies will take place at 5pm on Thursday 25 June; and the session with Ieuan Evans will take place at 6.30pm on Thursday 25 June.

Up to 500 individuals representing their clubs can register attendance at each of the sessions, which are designed to allow clubs to make the best informed decisions about who should represent them on the WRU Council.

To register your attendance for any of these sessions, please follow the links as sent separately to your club secretary.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing updated information about joining that webinar.

Please note that sessions will be on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

Regional Club Drop In Sessions

The final round of drop in calls with member clubs were held this week with members joining from both North Wales and the Ospreys region.

In total, over 50 clubs have attended the sessions over the previous three weeks.

The main topics discussed were:

• Personal Protective Equipment

• Club Development Plans

• Engaging with members and volunteers

• Membership

• Sharing best practice

• Sport Wales support

• Access to funding

• Sponsorship opportunities

• Communication with clubs

• Online training & resources

These sessions have been extremely well received and given us valuable feedback on how future calls could be structured. We now plan to use this feedback to create a formal series of evening drop-ins which will include guest speakers, club case studies and opportunities to ask questions of panellists.

Disability Sport Wales Insport Series  

Rugby has heavily featured on the Disability Sport Wales Insport Series recently.

This is a series of virtual events that provide inclusive sporting opportunities for disabled adults and young people across.

On Friday 12th June (North Wales Event) rugby skills with the Colwyn Bay Stingrays RFC mixed ability rugby side and Hannah Hughes (WRU Rugby Officer) was a great success.

Then on Friday 19th June (Gwent Event) wheelchair rugby skills were on show with Dragons Wheelchair Rugby team.

The next two events are on Friday 3rd July (South Wales Event) and Friday 10th July (Mid and West Wales Event).

“We at the WRU always look forward to delivering at the DSW Insport Series events across Wales every year and this year even with the current situation it is no different,” said WRU rugby enterprise manager Greg Woods.

“Disabled adults and young people can participate and learn rugby skills in a fun and safe way through our rugby videos at the virtual event.”

Registration and more information can be found here.

Facilities Working Group

As has been previously mentioned we recently conducted an Impact Survey exercise with our member clubs to determine their financial sustainability in the short to medium term, and the subsequent affect, Covid-19 lockdown has had on their business.

With a strong return rate of 259 clubs submitting an Impact Survey, the findings concluded that all but two clubs will have sufficient financial reserves to last the next 6 month period.

Addressing the survey findings, a key recommendation of next steps that has since been approved by WRU Board, involves commissioning a Working Group.

The group will be tasked with ensuring facilities are ready to accommodate club-based activities when Welsh Government guidance allows.

Rugby news


Croesyceiliog Rugby Club has raised over £4,000 towards the NHS selling branded shirts with the NHS rainbow embossed on the sleeves.

Also, online auctions and raffles have taken place and are still continuing hopefully to reach the target of £6,000.

The club would like to thank player Rhys Bain who has worked tirelessly on this project and all the rest of the volunteers.

More info here: 


Bedwas have utilised lockdown to complete work on a ‘new-look’ club lounge, with the before and after photos they have shared on social media a sight for sore eyes.

Hundreds of volunteer hours went into the revamp after pre-pandemic flooding caused untold damage to the clubhouse.

The WRU have provided extra funds to the worst hit clubs for projects just like this one, but Bedwas also want to thank everyone who supported them on their journey including those who have made donations as part of their own flooding fundraiser activity.

“Thanks to the kind support of the community, the Welsh Rugby Union and the hundreds upon hundreds of volunteer man hours, the new-look lounge is starting to take shape,” says Ian Lovell on the club website.

“Hard to believe it is the same room that was wrecked by flooding caked in mud and soaked with flood water a few months ago!

“This new lounge will be a great social hub for our members, squads and the wider public who love playing and watching rugby”


The former RAF medic was working as a delivery driver Port Talbot Panthers player, first aider and Taibach under 14s coach Simon Rees believes he has found his professional and rugby calling in the last 12 months.

He was working for a firm of builders’ merchants when lockdown kicked in, but after seeing an advert for hospital porters, decided to make a difference.

“I had some experience as a medic and within a hospital environment so I thought I’d apply to be a porter. I was offered an interview, and then the post,” he said.

“The initial three months has turned into six and now there’s a potential for it to become a full-time position.

“I’m based at Morriston Hospital and it’s varied depending on the need. I enjoy working in A & E most as it’s so busy and different every shift. We have to don full PPE quickly and correctly and I’m glad to help in whatever way I can.”

The 55 year old joined the Panthers last autumn soon after it was formed, encouraged by his friend and Panthers founder Andrew Harries.

“As far as rugby is concerned, it’s definitely the best team sport in the world for me. I’d played in the forces, for an English club and for Taibach. I’ve also been a first aider for ten seasons and currently coach Taibach under 13s – under 14s next season.

“Some of the Panthers players are truly inspirational and I’m glad to now call them my friends. There are players with brain injuries, physical and mental disabilities but once they pull on a Panthers shirt they are teammates.”

Full story


It can be hard to quantify the lengths a father would go to see his son win his first Wales cap.

For Adrian Wainwright, it’s straightforward: a journey that takes in a false dawn in Washington DC, followed by an eye-watering marathon trip to Argentina for the pay-off.

In the summer of 2018, few outside of Newport were familiar with the name Aaron Wainwright.

The then 20-year-old flanker had only made his Dragons debut the previous October, but now he was about to announce himself as one of the most exciting young talents in world rugby.

This is the story of a trip to warm hearts in the week following Father’s Day – total travel time: a whopping 44 hours.


Richard Hibbard reckons the break he has had form the game during lockdown could add two years onto his career.

But while the former Wales and British & Irish Lions hooker has been relishing the break from the game, he can’t wait to get back into typically explosive action when the PRO14 returns in August.

Two rounds of regional action will be the perfect warm-up for the Dragons ahead of their European Challenge Cup quarter-final clash with Bristol.

More here


Ioan Hughes has carried off the Player of the Year award for Llanelli RFC after another influential season in the No 10 jersey at Parc y Scarlets.

Having been forced to go to a last-gasp play-off against Championship winners Pontypool to hang onto their Indigo Group Premiership last year, Llanelli stayed well off the bottom in the recently completed campaign.

The Player’s Player of the Year Award went to full back cum wing Kallum Evans, while the Most Promising Player of the Year title went to Jacob Lewis, the son of former club legend Emyr Lewis. Alan Williams was reward with the coveted Clubman of the Year award.


As we all await the go-ahead to return to watching live rugby here is a reminder of one of the biggest crowds ever to turn-up to watch an international match in the Welsh capital.

Everything was on the line when Ireland, the 1935 champions, headed to Cardiff for the decisive match in the 1936 Home Nations tournament at the Arms Park on 14 March.

Wales had already beaten Jack Manchester’s All Blacks, 13-12, earlier in the season and had fought out a 0-0 draw with England in Swansea. They then ran in three tries in a 13-3 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

The Irish had their first Triple Crown since 1899 firmly in their sights. They had already beaten England 6-3 in Dublin and taken care of the Scots, 10-4, in Edinburgh, to stretch their winning sequence in the Championship to four games.

For Idwal Rees’ Welsh side there was the chance of picking up another Championship title – they had triumphed in 1931 – and going through the season undefeated.

The stage was set for a winner-takes-all contest and the fans loved it.

So what happened, click here to find out.

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