"This is your captain speaking..."
There is only one place this Blog can begin and that’s May 2nd 2011... Cup Final day. The day as a whole is one I’m sure both players and supporters will never forget.
Obviously going into the game there was pressure on us to come away with some silverware, but we were up against a very good Aberavon team who like ourselves are made up of honest individuals. The game as a whole was I think a great advert for the Premiership as it showed two very determined teams going at it hammer and tong for the full 80 minutes.
The game was very fast to play in and also exciting even though we put some pressure on ourselves letting Aberavon back into the game during the 2nd half. At the final whistle I was relieved to get through the game and obviously chuffed to bits with the result. As a kid starting out in rugby you always dream of leading a cup winning team and walking up to pick the trophy up in front of all the fans - I can honestly say it was one of the greatest and proudest moments of my life. The game is a bit of a blur but one thing that really sticks in my memory is pulling up back at Sardis Road and looking out of the bus.
All I could see was rows of supporters waiting for us to get off the bus and share the victory with the team. The reception we had on the walk into the club was overwhelming, and made me realise just how special the club is! Nowhere else in Wales or even the world would a team have a reception like that and from myself and the squad we would like to thank you – the experience was truly overwhelming and spine tingling. I’ve even had members from other teams in the Prem coming up to me since the victory and commenting on the support we have as they have seen Owen's video on Youtube. It is a day and night that we will never forget.
Leading up to the cup final was a very frustrating month for me, not being able to play and watching the big games from the sidelines. How I played in the match I will never know and it is testament to Dai Thomas and the medical team that I was able to pull the jersey on. They worked hard on me from the moment I had the injury and made sure I had the best treatment available, for that I am very thankful and owe them a number of pints.
I really shouldn’t leave these blogs so long as I forget the games that have been played in between, but obviously with the injury and being off work I had a lot of time on my hands to look back at the season. It has been nothing short of phenomenal and an honour to be a part of. Each player who has pulled the jersey on this season deserves praise as it has definitely been a team effort with each squad member buying into our team ethics and working together as one. The coaching staff, medical staff and backroom staff I feel should also get a mention as without these none of what we have achieved this season would’ve been possible.
During the injury three games really stick out for me. The first game being the semi down at the Arms Park against Swansea. For an hour of that game I think we played total rugby and I think it was our best performance of the season. A very good Swansea team couldn’t live with us and didn’t know what had hit them during that hour spell. Although they scored a few points towards the end which disappointed us as a team, the game was over as a contest after an hour.
The next game that sticks out was the midweek trip down to Llandovery where a win would see us top the league. I was nervous and I wasn’t even playing, then the delay to the kick off added to my feelings. The game kicked off and we played ok in the first half but went in at half time behind. I remember the changing room at half time was very calm and then I knew we would turn it around and come out on top. The 2nd half went as I predicted and we were able to get the victory and the bonus point to pull us even clearer of the chasing pack.
The final game that sticks out was the Bristol game in the BIC semi. Although we didn’t get the result we wanted it was a massive day for the club as a whole. I mean when a bloke (aka Bert James) flies across the Atlantic to watch us play in one game it really kicks home how big the game was. Unfortunately we were unable to get the victory and after watching the video we didn’t really play to our full potential. I would give anything to replay that game and play like we know we can for the full 80 minutes and not in patches like we did.
A common theme in the three games mentioned above was the support we had. As supporters, you took over the Arms Park and Church Bank. The noise and emotion from the crowd was amazing and really spurred the boys on. The Bristol game though at Sardis was a step up in both noise and emotion. Although I wasn’t around during the professional days and huge Heineken Cup games I can imagine the atmosphere must have been like the Bristol game, which was amazing!!!
As a squad we ask you to make your way to Sardis on Thursday - which I know isn’t ideal as many of you are working - and to recreate the atmosphere that we had at the Bristol game. It is a huge match on Thursday and not some end of season jolly, we could achieve something very special doing the league and cup double.
Personally, I and many others already see us as champions of the Premiership, but we need one last push to defeat a very good Llanelli team that smashed a good Neath team last week. Training for the game has gone well and we are confident we can put in one last performance that would bring another trophy back to Sardis this season.
On a final note I would like to congratulate the boys that got their 100 caps last weekend. The boys join a very special band of players as playing 100 games for one club these days is something they can be really proud of and the cap is something they can treasure for the rest of their playing days and beyond. Also a message of good luck to Darren ‘Shark Eyes’ Waters, who has worked hard over the last two years and now goes onto fulfill his dream of becoming a professional rugby player. Obviously he goes with our best wishes and I’m sure we will see him down Sardis next season when he isn’t starting for the Dragons.
Thanks once more for all your support this season. Get down to Sardis on Thursday as something very special could happen and you will be able to say, ‘I was there’!!!
16th May 2011
Play Off Final
Total votes 185
Ponty ar ben eu digon - pencampwyr dwbwl Cymru. Pwy oedd yn serennu yn y gem fawr yn erbyn Llanelli? Ponty on top of the world - double champions of Welsh rugby. Who starred in the big win over Llanelli?