Cardiff RFC Season Review 2006 – 2007

This season started with a short pre-season trip to Scotland and Selkirk where the Blue & Blacks played an evening XV a side game before competing in the centenary sevens on the Sunday. A young winger named Tom James made his debut for Cardiff on that night and although he didn’t get on the score sheet he did show what was to come in the future, Cardiff winning by four tries to nil. In the 7s Cardiff ran out tournament winners to start the season with a trophy.

Next up it was down to Somerset where the Blue & Blacks team and fans were treated to a great afternoon by their hosts, Bridgwater. Another good run out saw a 31-17 victory. The league campaign did not start as well.  Swansea came to the Arms Park and won a thrilling match at the death by 36 points to 30. That was followed by a five try victory over Llanelli – Tom James this time getting on the score sheet. And he was on target again the following weekend as this time Cardiff came from behind to beat the Ravens at the Arms Park 24-21.

That though was followed by the now customary loss at Aberavon. Cardiff had been in front for most of the game but let it slip when a yellow card fifteen minutes from the end allowed the Wizards to score twice. Pontypridd the following week was ever more of a let-down, scoring three tries but only being able to convert one let Cardiff two points light at the end of a game that they should have won.

Church Bank was next on the agenda, little were these two sides know what was to come at the end of the season, but on this occasion the visitors had the upper hand, a win that took the Blue & Blacks up to fourth. By now Tom James was making a name for himself, scoring twice on a wet and windy afternoon. Cross Keys were dispatched at the Arms Park a week later, this time the wing wonder went one better scoring a hat-trick as the home side ran in five tries in all. Glamorgan Wanderers we beaten comfortably at the Arms Park before the best result of the Premiership years at Rodney Parade where the Black & Ambers and Blue & Blacks fought out a highly entertaining 18 all draw.

Two defeats followed. Ebbw Vale came to town and held onto a narrow lead despite Cardiff having three kickable opportunities to win the game at the death. Neath away resulted in a home victory before a visit to the Old Parish gave most of the supporters the highlight of the season. As the game kicked off the home side’s committee chairman could be seen marking out the far touchline dressed in his finest – good thing the ball didn’t go anywhere near him.

The visit to the Brewery Field was the biggest disappointment of the season, Cardiff failed to turn up and that was even after the kick-off was delayed by an hour due to traffic problems. The only score on the day being a Daffydd Hewitt try. Revenge for the earlier defeat was gained against Aberavon where two of the front row union crossed in a four try triumph. A win on Boxing Day at Bedwas on a snowy afternoon was followed by too much Christmas spirit being on show against Pontypridd at the Arms Park as a series of errors allowed the visitors side to complete the double.

Cardiff were on the wrong end of another double at St Helens where, bizarrely a missed conversion in the last second was retaken as the referee heard ’a comment’ from  behind the posts that he deemed as putting the kicker off. The second kick sailing through the sticks to give The Whites a one point victory. Llandovery were the visitors to the Arms Park in mid-January, both teams still unaware of the end of season game yet to come. The Drovers kicked seven penalties, Cardiff scores six tries to win comfortably.

A loss at Pandy Park the week after was followed by the first round of the cup where the Blue & Blacks thumped Narberth 69-14 in the first round. That spurred Cardiff into playing some of the best rugby of the season. The Wanderers gave Cardiff a test for 60 minutes that included at one point a 17 point advantage. Five tries though saw Cardiff through before defeating eventual champions Neath at the Gnoll in the cup. Jamie Roberts and Ross Johnston scoring to see the Blue & Blacks through. Defeat by Newport was the only blip between February and April, Ebbw Vale, Swansea in the cup and Neath, this time in the league were all beaten in successive weeks. Jamie Roberts also being named as Player of the Month for March.

That left Cardiff safe in mid table and still in the cup. A semi-final against Bridgend at Sardis Rd was negotiated before the final against Llandovery at the Millennium Stadium. All was well with the game until the last minute. Leading by a narrow margin Cardiff cleared into the stand with a minute left. A quick throw in and three phases later and the Drovers were over in the corner to level the scores. Ahead on try count they converted to make absolutely sure and record their first ever win in the Welsh Cup final.

The last three games for Cardiff proved to be an anti-climax. Three more losses including a final day defeat at Stradey Park, but overall, the 2006-07 season remains one in which Gareth Gravell and the squad could justifiably hold their own heads high.

Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3