27.1.2003 Lynn laments looming legal war
[icWales] PONTYPRIDD coach Lynn Howells admitted the political storm-clouds over Welsh rugby are casting a shadow of doom over players after watching his injury-hit side lose at Rodney Parade.
The Valleys club is facing an uncertain future to say the least after it was confirmed that the Welsh Rugby Union's proposals to establish four regional franchises would be put to the member clubs next month.
Pontypridd, along with Swansea, are already expected to miss out on winning their regional franchise if the plan goes ahead, leaving club officials to consider legal action against the union.
And the situation has had a hugely destablising effect on both players and coaches alike.
"It has certainly been hard to keep everyone minds on the job, especially considering everything that happened over the past few weeks," said Howells.
"Last week was probably the quietest I have ever known our team in the build up to a game.
"The political problems off the field are definitely affecting the players, but I am just glad they actually managed to put it behind them and produce a great game of rugby."
Those sentiments were shared by Howells' counterpart Leigh Jones who admitted that the current unrest was the most unsettling problem he had ever experienced in rugby.
He said: "I have been involved in a fair amount of controversy at a number of clubs during the professional era, but this current situation is effecting players more than anything else I can remember.
"Players are normally great at putting things behind them and getting on with the job, but that is becoming increasingly difficult.
"I don't think that is just at Newport, that is all across Wales."
Yet despite the growing unease among players over what the future may or may not hold, both teams conspired to produce a thoroughly entertaining game.
The action swung from one end to the other through waves of attacking play that produced five tries in the process.
Newport, bouyed by the sight of Percy Montgomery opening his account for his new club as early as the sixth minute, continued their recent rejuvenation.
Their 70-18 hammering in Toulouse has been countered with back-to-back home wins against Edinburgh and now Pontypridd thanks to their forwards showing glimpses of the bullying pack of last season and a back division offering a much brighter spark.
"We have lacked confidence since the start of the season, but there's a nice buzz in the dressing room and that can only auger well for going to Ebbw Vale this weekend," said Jones. "Ponty had a weekened side, but that allows them to play and they played very well.
"We couldn't put them away and they showed tremendous resolve to keep the game alive right until the end. But perhaps the score flattered them in the end."
Play Off Final
Total votes 154
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?