The curtains have come down on another successful, but poignant season for the Pontypridd Mini, Junior & Youth Rugby Section.
The season saw the formal introduction by the WRU of under 7's rugby, something that the section had been allocating and fielding in one guise or another for several years already. Pontypridd's first formally recognised under 7's season was a great success, with our youngest side winning silverware at the Barkers Butts and Pontypridd Tournaments, with notable wins over touring side Kettering RFC, along with Worcester, Bridgend Athletic and local rivals Pontyclun!
Our under 8's were equally successful, scoring over 200 tries, whilst winning silverware at Barkers Butts and Pontypridd Tournaments, with notable wins during the year over Worcester and Kettering, along with wins over local rivals Treorchy and Pontyclun.
Pontypridd under 9's went the entire season with just one loss, a great achievement in itself, along with winning silverware at the Pontypridd, Barkers Butts, Brecon and Llanelli Tournaments. The team also had memorable and notable wins over Newbury, Worcester and Kettering.
The under 10's reached the semi-final stage of the Taff Rhondda District Tournament and gained silverware at the Barkers Butts and Brecon Tournaments. The side also had notable wins over Macclesfield Wolves, Kettering, Ebbw Vale and local rivals Rhydyfelin.
With just 3 losses all season, the Under 11's had a memorable season that saw them reach the Blues Cup Semi-final and had six players capped for East Wales. The side gained silverware at the Pontypridd, Barkers Butts, Brecon and Llanelli tournaments, with noteable wins during the season over Newbury, Worcester, Kettering and Treorchy.
Pontypridd Under 12's finished the season with an impressive hundred tries difference and gaining silverware at the Barkers Butts tournament. The team also gained notable wins over Glamorgan Wanderers, Kettering and Llandaff, to name but a few of their 21 fine victories.
Pontypridd Under 13's retained their crown as Blues Regional Champions with a fine victory at Cardiff Arms Park over local rivals Ystrad Rhondda. This capped an excellent season, with the side remaining unbeaten, scoring 190 tries and conceding only 9! They have now been unbeaten in 5 of the last 6 seasons...
Our under 14's reached the quarter finals stage of the Blues Cup, unfortunately going out by a single point to St Josephs. The team gained notable victories over Cheltenham, Langley Park, Glamorgan Wanderers and Doncaster.
As is typical of every under 15's season, fixtures were disjointed by a loss of players to Schools and District selection and their involvement in the Dewar Shield tournament. Yet the team still managed notable wins over Kettering, Rhiwbina, Pontyclun and Newport HSOB.
It was a hard and sad season for our under 16's as they lost head coach Warren Rossiter to cancer just before Christmas, this was a double blow to the team, as under 16's second row Cory McCarthy was also diagnosed with cancer just prior to the start of the season.
However this seemed to galvanise the players and donning pink socks in memory of Warren and in support of Cory they went out and played week after week, becoming great ambassadors for the club and an inspiration to the younger age groups. The season ended on a happier note as it appears that Cory is making a great recovery and winning his battle with cancer!
The Youth section had a tough season, with the loss of the majority of the squad to senior rugby at the end of last season, it was a case of building from scratch in some areas. Early form was disrupted by several weeks of inactivity due to the extended winter disruption and then the loss of several key players to long term injuries.
Hence the youth ended the season having to field older members of the under 16's squad -given these set backs it was no surprise that they struggled to fulfill fixtures and to make a mark in the league standings. The youth season ended with a solid win over Porth Harlequins to regain the St Barts Flask trophy, but the season end also saw the loss of youth coaches Sean Oliver and Wayne Gristock who have both decided to stand down after five years in charge.
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Sut y gallwn hawlio yn ol ein gem genedlaethol? Oes angen newid y strwythur? How can we reclaim our national game? Is there a need for a restructure?