Ponty’s 6 x 9
Pontypridd scrum halves are like the corporation buses of old – you might struggle to see one for a while then six turn up all at once.
Ponty ended the previous campaign with just one scrum half on the books, namely Joel Raikes. A long term and ultimately career ending injury to Wayne Evans and the departure of previous incumbents of the no9 shirt, Dane Blacker and Jamie Hill to national and regional duties, left Raikes as the last man standing.
The problem has been addressed in the most emphatic manner before the commencement of the new season.
Raikes remains, whilst Dai Francis from Beddau and Huw Rees from Nelson, who had been drafted in on permit at the end of the previous campaign, have now signed up for Ponty, as has Will Baird who joins from Bridgend. In addition Macauley Griffiths from Ynysybwl and Harry Rumens from the University of South Wales have also been training with Ponty, intent on challenging for the scrum half berth.
One of the six challenging for the no9 shirt, Dai Francis, is relishing the battle for selection to come.
“There will be keen competition for the scrum half berth next season” said Francis. “Its a good situation to be in, one that I’ve never really experienced before, and should keep us all on our toes. We get on well as we get paired together as scrum halves in fitness and skills training.”
Francis appeared on permit for Ponty towards the end of the previous campaign, and appreciates the demands of playing at Premiership level.
“It was a big step up for me, coming from Beddau to play for Ponty” said Francis “but I got a lot of help and advice from others in the squad, like Joel Raikes and Diggy Bird. It was an honour to be invited to train with and play for Ponty, being my local club and the only one that I would have considered moving to.”
As the Ponty six challenge for the scrum half position, there are challenges awaiting the whole squad in what promises to be a hugely competitive league campaign.
“Relegation from the Premiership will bring a lot of pressure and a demand to perform consistently well and to get results” said Francis. “We have forty to fifty players training every session and we have the makings of a good squad with competition across all positions. I’m looking forward to the prospect of being able to play for Ponty and contribute to what we all hope will be a successful season.”