Indigo Group Premiership Cup

After an 18-month hiatus due to the pandemic, the Indigo Group Premiership clubs finally have something to look forward to with a new cup competition set to kick-start the season on September 18.

The 12 clubs have been divided into two pools of six – West and East – for the inaugural Indigo Group Premiership Cup.

Llanelli, Aberavon, Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery and Swansea form the West while Merthyr, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, Newport, Cardiff and RGC will contest the East.

The initial stage will be on a home and away basis to find the top two sides from each group. The winner from West will then host the runners-up from East in one semi-final while in the other semi-final the winner of East will host the runner-up of West. The date and venue of the final are TBC.

“The key for us has been to get people back playing rugby. A lot of time and effort has gone into ensuring the top end of our club game can return to action in a safe environment,” said WRU head of participation, Geraint John.

“Finally, the players and coaches have something tangible to focus on and we can all now look forward to seeing some exciting derbies which I’m sure will give fans something to shout about at long last.”

Ian Cole-Wilkins, CEO of Indigo Group, said: “We are pleased to be finally welcoming clubs back after a long and challenging 18 months. The new West and East cup competition format to start in September gives local supporters the chance to see the players stir up some long standing rivalries!

“Indigo Group will continue to support clubs with their return to rugby and we look forward to getting to some of the games.”

Jon Jones, chairman of the Indigo Group Premiership clubs and Ebbw Vale, expressed relief that a date has now been set in concrete to get the players back on the pitch and is hoping the derbies will see fans pouring back through the turnstiles.

“Having a cup competition at the beginning of the season is something different, but we’re obviously looking forward to it because we haven’t played for over 18 months by the time we kick off,” he said. “We’re really enthusiastic to get back to playing and that is a message from all the Indigo Group Premiership clubs really.

“It’s really important to have that start date set now – we’ve not even got close to it before so it’s great to know when we’re going to start, we’ve all got friendly fixtures lined up to lead into the competition,” he said.

Jones added the Indigo Group Premiership has had to follow certain protocols before having a start-date confirmed.

“Training has already started for the clubs, but we need a bigger lead-in than some of the community clubs for obvious reasons.

“We have got to get a lot of things in place and it gives us time to do that to make sure the players are ready – it’s been a long time without contact so there are concerns from the medical side of things and that is why it has been managed in the way it has and why we are starting later than the community game.”

With pre-season now fully underway, Aberavon head coach Jason Hyatt is eager to get the new campaign going.

“From our point of view, it’s really important that we get back playing as soon as possible, it’s so important on all fronts. Important for the clubs, important for the supporters and Welsh rugby in general,” he said.

“It is nice to have something concrete to look forward to. They will all be difficult games, traditionally the West sides play a lot of rugby and I enjoyed it the last time it was east and west if I’m honest.

“The East and West is not a new format – we did it a number of years ago and that was the year we reached the final play-off and we played Merthyr in the final.

“We’re very lucky in Aberavon, we’ve got fantastic supporters and everyone is busting a gut to watch rugby again. My son plays for Gowerton, I watched him play against Dunvant so it feels like it is starting to feel like a bit of normality is kicking in now. It was just nice watching a game of rugby so no doubt our supporters will feel exactly the same.”

Hyatt has no doubt the derbies will bring the best out of the players and is encouraging fans who have been devoid of any live sporting action over the past 18 months to go and support their local team.

“Personally, I think the standard is rising all the time. I take my hat off to everyone involved with the Indigo Group Premiership – it doesn’t just fall in our laps at that level. A lot of hard work is involved, and it is a fantastic environment for youngsters to come through and learn,” he said.

Jones added: “This will be a chance to see some live rugby, it’s good for the clubs and good for atmosphere and I think everybody needs that after what we have been through as a society – everybody needs something different to the garden.

“It’s a chance for the Indigo Group Premiership clubs to continue to show what they can do – that is why we would be really pleased to get more people through the gates because I think as people come they will want to come again.”

Tipuric Set for Third Tour

Huge Congratulations to Justin Tipuric on his selection for his third British And Irish Lions tour that was announced yesterday. A major achievement for Tips for which his family can be very proud, everyone at Aberavon RFC and the Ospreys will be delighted for him.

Back in 2008 when the Trebanos born player first played for the Wizards some wise rugby sages predicted a big future but he has hugely surpassed that with 85 Welsh caps to his name to date and now his third Lions tour which is the full set – Australia/New Zealand and South Africa. 

Great news Tips, we all hope you have a good tour.

From us all at Aberavon RFC.

Beard is a Lion

We would like to congratulate Adam Beard on making his first appearance for the British and Irish Lions against Cell C Sharks on July 7, 2021.

Beard made 17 appearances for ‘the Wizards’ debuting against Neath in the British and Irish Cup on 30 August, 2014.

We wish Adam good luck for the rest of the tour.

David Owen

On behalf of everyone at Aberavon RFC I am really sad to announce that David (Dai) Owen passed away yesterday morning after a long and difficult battle against the horrible illness of dementia. Dai was a huge part of the club as an ex player, team manager and social club secretary for many years. He also played a large part in the Welsh Districts over the years and helped a number of clubs achieve WRU status.

His working life was spent with the local authority where he worked in the valuation and rating section rising to be a senior member of the department, he was also a keen trade union member throughout his career.

Following retirement, he took over as secretary of the rugby club at Aberavon and spent a huge amount of time there. He then organised several British Lions rugby and England cricket trips to places far and wide including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa which were fondly known as Dai Owen Tours and hugely enjoyed by everyone who was fortunate to be part of them. He made friends all over the world on these ventures which he organised with precision.  

On a personal note I loved him to bits, he was a great character, hugely proud of his roots in Pontrhydyfen, his family and rugby connections there and the long association with Kelso RFC in the Scottish Borders. He was a great help to me in running Aberavon RFC in the days when his sharp mind and experience in rugby was profound before the awful illness took hold.

I will miss him greatly but it’s balanced by the knowledge that he is at peace now.

Our heartfelt sympathies go to his sister Nerys and of course Steven and all the family.

Andrew.