Cardiff RFC Season Review 2001 – 2002


Cardiff RFC Season Report 2001 / 2002

The 125th season of the Club can be described as one of celebration and disappointment. The various events held during the year were a great success but our failure at the final hurdle in both League and Cup was disappointing.

The season began with the arrival of a new director of rugby, Rudy Joubert, and a new competition, the Celtic League. Injuries to many senior players meant we started the season with a very young side and defeats to Connacht, Neath and Munster put paid to any progress in the Celtic League despite an excellent victory over Newport.

Away form at the beginning of the season was not always what it could be and three away defeats in the European Cup meant, for the first time, we failed to qualify for the quarter finals. Having failed to progress in both Celtic and European competitions was disappointing and also led to a very fragmented season with breaks of 5 and 6 weeks which did little to help the side’s progress.

Returning to league action at Christmas with two wins and a draw and a defeat at Ebbw Vale was to prove costly later in the season.

Action in the Principality Cup began the second half of the season with a hard fought game against Aberavon landing us a home tie with old enemies Newport. A full house witnessed a pulsating cup-tie with us running out victors 20-14. The semi-final defeat by Pontypridd, despite out-scoring them 3 tries to 1 was again disappointing when we seemed capable of winning the game.

The end of the season brought a run of five games in fifteen days and left us wondering about the allocation of fixtures when we had weeks without games earlier in the season. Defeats away to Swansea and home to Llanelli were to end our chances of league success. Whilst we finished the season without any silver wear the progression of some of the younger players leaves us with plenty of hope for the future.

Many of those young players had appeared during the season for the U21s and had produces some excellent performances. |Two defeats in 16 matches meant the league was won and only an 18-15 defeat to Neath prevented a league and cup double for this outstanding side. The work of the coaches, Mike Rayer and Howard Stone in the Cardiff Academy, will in the future pay dividends for the Club

The Youth XV, under the guidance of Gerry Roberts and Huw Daniels, has had another outstanding season and retained the Welsh Cup for the third successive season. The hard work of Jim O’Donnell and his committee has maintained the highest standards. The Academy’s end of season tour to Poland will provide great experience for both U21 and Youth players who took part. One victory and one defeat at the end of a hard season was a very creditable performance.

The club’s International representation at all levels continues to grow and the club is proud of their achievements. David Young captained the side for the fourth season and we wish him well as he moves towards coaching and his experience will be invaluable to the club. John Humphries and Craig Quinell have departed the club during the summer and we wish them both well in England. Craig has worked hard for us in the few seasons he has been with us and John has been a tremendous ambassador for the club in the last decade, during which time he captained club and country. On behalf of all the members, I wish them both well.

Robert Norster’s arrival a Chief Executive has helped structure the club and I wish Bob and his office staff success for the future. Coach Ruby Joubert, Assistant coach, Geraint John, fitness coach Huw Wiltshire, analyst Alun Carter physiotherapists, Jane James and Hywel Griffiths, masseur Wayne Mortimer, doctors Roger Evans , Prof John Williams, Mr Geoff Graham and optician Frank Mahoney, dentist Geoff Price and media officer Alan Evans are all responsible for the effective running of the team and we thank them all.

The rugby committee continues with its support of club and teams of all levels and my thanks go to one and all, especially Hon Sec Brian Bennett. Many thanks to Vicky McCraken and Jackie Flynn for their valuable work. The Management Committee, under the chairmanship of Mervyn Warfield continues as Landlords of the rugby club and a close working relationship is essential for the success of the club.

The board of directors continues to support the running of a successful club. To Brian Walker and his ground staff and Karl Williams and his bar staff, many thanks.

The lottery continues to raise money for the development of rugby and specials thanks to Kath and Ken Jones, Graham Kierle and Brian Bennett. The supporters club, under the chairmanship of Simon Down, continues to grow and we thank him and his committee for their tremendous support during the season. Capital rugby goes from strength to strength and it is wonderful to see so many children taking to the field at pre-match tournaments. Long may it continue.

I would like to end by thanking all members for their support during the past season. As I mentioned earlier the disruption of fixtures e.g. Friday night game, Saturday evening games is frustrating for everyone and while we all hope for more structured season the support of the members is vital for the continues success of their great club.

Cardiff Rugby Club looks forward to your loyal support next season

Yours in rugby

Robert Lakin

Cardiff RFC Youth Team Report 2001 / 2002

In my first report as youth team secretary, the Cardiff youth team won the Welsh youth cup, defeating Pontypool at the Old National Stadium; in this, my last, the team repeated the victory, this time against Aberavon at the new Millennium Stadium to win the cup for at tenth time in total and the third time consecutively, the only youth team with such a record.

In the BT Dragons’ Trust league Premier Division 1A, this season, they have finished runners up to Tonyrefail, a team, a team they beat twice but found themselves having four points deducted from their total for fielding ineligible players in the first two games. They were unable to complete their fixtures as the away game against London Welsh was postponed and a date later in the season proved impossible to arrange.

Nonetheless, as runners up, they still progressed to the semi-finals of the Play-offs where they met Swansea, who defeated them and who then went on to lose, comprehensively to Newport in the final.

In these times of ever lengthening seasons, it now seems as age since the league season kicked off on the 1st September with a home fixture against London Welsh which was played at the University complex in Llanrumney. This turned out to be a ten try extravaganza, with two tries from fullback Matthew Taylor, and single tries for David Tame, Richard Jones, Lewis Collins, Gareth Knight, Marc Burge, Gareth Howard, Tim Brotherton and Lee Thomas. Nick MacLeod added a penalty and four conversions to give Cardiff a 61-5 winning margin. There followed, in quick succession victories away against Merthyr 50-10 and Steelers, at Cardiff Arms Park by 39-7.

The league continued into October with a 17-9 hard fought victory against a smaller but very competitive Tonyrefail side. The end of October should have seen a fixture against Ystradgynlais but it was postponed and later they withdrew from the league.

The league for Cardiff continued in December with fixtures against Merthyr and Tonyerfail, both at home, resulting in two more victories, 47-10 against Merthyr and an extremely tight, in fact too tight for comfort 13-12 win against Tonyrefial.

The last league fixture was not played until 30th March and was against the Steelers away at Eugene Cross Park. This resulted in a first league defeat by20-3 which resulted in Cardiff filling the runners-up spot in the Premier Division 1A. It also meant we went straight into the semi-finals against Swansea instead of playing Newport in a play-off to reach the semi-finals.

The game was played at St Helens in glorious sunshine. The two teams scored a brace of tries a piece, but Swansea converted one of theirs and added a penalty to make the final score 15-10.

In terms of friendly games, these were represented by fixtures against Swansea in September, again at St Helens in good weather, which resulted in the first loss albeit a close one by 20-15, a narrow win at the Arms Park against Glamorgan Wanderers and the narrowest of losses to Newport by 14 points to 13.

The away trip to Exeter just before the New Year showed an 11 points to 3 victory whilst the boys put on a superb display in January in appalling conditions to record a 41-5 win against London Irish. The final friendly of the season was an away game against Bristol and this resulted in a good 29-5 win. Unfortunately games which had been arranged against Leicester, Wasps (2), Bath, Leeds, Saracens and the return game against Exeter were not able to be played.

The quest for the retention of the Welsh Cup started off away to Penclawdd where the hospitality extended easily exceeded the number of cockles in the estuary. The weather was not too clement and the team ground out a victory 24-6, earning them an away tie against Vardre United. Again the conditions were dreadful but the team did just enough to win 14-10.

This earned them tow consecutive home draws, firstly against Pontypool United. This proved a nail biting experience for the supporters for having built up a 19-0 lead by half time and appeared to be cruising they then let Pontypool score 17 points back and spent the last quarter defending heroically.

It was back to the Arms Park for the semi-final against Newport and again the team built up a 25-5 lead by the second half, only to find Newport coming back with a vengeance scoring two tries, a penalty and a conversion without reply. It was not a game for the weak hearted with Cardiff forced to defend their line for the last ten minutes without respite, for the second consecutive game. This was undoubtedly their finest game of the season and took them through to the final against Aberavon who had defeated Swansea in their Semi-final.

This was a scrappy game with Cardiff leading by 16-15 by half time through a try from scrum half Rob Saunders, converted by Dean Watkins and three Watkins penalties. Aberavon replied with two tries, a penalty and a conversion.

The only scores of the second half resulted from what seemed to be Cardiff’s only two excursions into the Aberavon half resulting in two further Watkins penalties.

The cup was Cardiff’s for the third year running. Cardiff are the first team to achieve this feat. Overall, it was their tenth cup final win in the thirty years of the competition in what was their thirteenth appearance in the final.

The team was admirably led by Dean Watkins, who whether playing at full back or outside half always managed to keep the team going forward and kept the scoreboard ticking over with his kicks. In the powerhouse, locks Gareth Knight and James Goode were excellent, both in ball winning ability and handling skills.

In this day and age, however, with both schools and youth rugby vying for effectively the same players, youth teams are suffering from the loss through unavailability of the better players through what seems to be ever demanding calls from the schools and International squad sessions.

Such disruption did affect the coaches’ ability to select the team of their choice, as did the unfortunate throughput of players in the team during the season with players leaving the squad for various reasons and having to be replaced by newcomers. In some games only three replacements were available and in one game, due to unavailability, there was a flanker at full back, a hooker in the centre and a second row on the wing.

In terms of International representation, David Tame, Lee Thomas, Nick Macleod and James Malpas were selected to represent Wales in the Under 19 World Cup and School honours went to Stephen Ireland, Lee Thompson, Ben Collins and Peter de Snyder. Rugby League caps went to John Breakingbury and Marc Burge before their representative departures from the squad.

Richard Jones, Nick MacLeod and James Malpas were deregistered as youth players in order that they could play for the U221 team but Nick was re-registered in time to play in the cup final.

I have to as always thank all those who have supported and encouraged the team throughout the year. My thanks especially go to Gerry Roberts and Hugh Daniels for a splendid job of coaching, to Youth Chairman Jim O’Donnell and the committee, to Billy Woods for his untiring work in raising funds, to club secretary Brian Bennett for his assistance and support both on and off the field. To the supporters club for their efforts on behalf of the youth and as always to Ken and Kath and the lottery. Finally to Vicky in the rugby office for her help and assistance over a period of many years.

To Karl Williams and his staff in the clubhouse are due our gratitude as is Mike whose provision of meals and rolls for consumption at Llanrumney are excellent. Whilst the playing facilities at Llanrumney are excellent, it is simply not possible to entertain the opposing team and committee after the game because of the lack of licensed or indeed any other liquid facilities, other than a coin in the slot tea or soft drinks machine. Too often it seemed last season because of our inability to take teams back to our clubhouse, entertainment was limited to a box of rolls in the Pavilion for a club of Cardiff’s stature was far from satisfactory.

As I leave the secretary ship after eight years I wish all the players good luck for their future, good health to the committee who have supported me so well and prosperity to the greatest rugby club in the world.

Playing Record

Played 21

Won 17

Drawn 0

Lost 4

Points For 540

Points Against 226

Michael Ryan

Youth Team Secretary

June 2002

Cardiff 16 13 0 3 396 243 61
Carmarthen Quins 17 10 3 4 372 278 54
Aberavon 16 11 0 5 371 272 53
Llandovery 16 9 2 5 344 285 48
Pontypridd 18 10 0 8 394 376 47
Merthyr 18 8 0 10 362 374 44
RGC 1404 17 8 1 8 409 381 43
Newport 15 7 0 8 294 278 37
Swansea 17 7 0 10 246 292 35
Llanelli 15 6 0 9 293 412 27
Ebbw Vale 17 4 2 11 283 351 27
Bridgend Ravens 18 3 0 15 271 493 19