The Pontypridd Youth squad for the current campaign has a very different look from that of last season. With twenty-eight of last year’s squad having moved on either due to age, work or University commitments, the summer of 2009 saw a massive effort to rebuild the squad.
If recruitment issues weren't problems enough, sadly Ponty Youth also saw the defection of a large number of key players from last year’s under 16’s squad to other clubs, with a trend of thought that Ponty would be too weak this year, and a preference to play in more established sides, thus robbing the squad of a number of Blues players who it was hoped would form the spine of the new side.
As a result of this rebuilding Ponty had a very late start to the season, not playing their first friendly fixtures until September. As to be expected with a brand new squad of mainly sixteen year olds, it has taken some time for the squad to start to gel. Although the squad showed glimpses of it's potential, frustratingly for the Ponty lads, in the friendlies they suffered a number of narrow defeats, each by less than one score, although in two of these games a little more sympathetic refereeing would probably have ended with the spoils going to Ponty!
Obviously this difficult process didn't help Ponty's league campaign, and they went down to early defeats away at Rumney and Pontyclun, although it must be said that in the latter fixture the score flattered a Pontyclun side who were totally dominated at forward by the Ponty pack with Nat Williams, Lee Griffiths and Danny Rogers putting in stand out performances. Ponty were unlucky that on four separate occasions their pack mauled over the try-line only for the referee not to be happy with the grounding. However the Pontyclun backs demonstrated impressively clinical finishing with what possession they obtained, and punished Ponty ruthlessly.
Recent hard fought victories in friendly games against Caerleon and Mountain Ash could just be the indication that the youthful Ponty squad can turn their season around, and certainly have the makings of a competitive unit.
We have already seen a number of the new faces at Ponty show the potential to be real stars of the future, with athletic lock / no8 Danny Rogers, sixteen year old prop Stevie Tucker, Blues squad flanker Alex Thomas and giant sixteen year old prop / lock Callum Reed all stepping up well to the Youth game, and joining impressive fly half Owain Davies, full-back Casey Pittman, lock Nat Williams and hooker Lee Griffiths as the backbone of this new look squad.
Pontypridd Youth – the season so far…
16th - Fleur-de-Lys - Lost 7-14 (Dev. Game)
19th - Penallta - Lost 7-34 (Dev. Game)
23d - Skewen - Lost 22-25 (Dev. Game)
26th - Rumney - Lost 3-56 (Blues A League)
3d - Caerleon – Won 37-4 (Friendly)
10th - Pontyclun – Lost 0 - 28 (Blues A League)
17th - Mountain Ash – Won 8 - 6 (Friendly)