Wales’ two strongest netball teams beneath Superleague level go head-to-head on Thursday night to determine who’s the best of the rest.
While the Celtic Dragons enjoy the upswing of their most promising season for years in the Vitality Superleague, Dinas Netball Club face Cowbridge at the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff.
The meeting is likely determine the winner of this year’s Cardiff & District Netball League, which essentially makes the champions Wales’ top team – although there may be some in the Deeside league who dispute that label.
With Dinas, the most dominant netball club in South Wales over the last 10 years, narrowly ahead on points, Shaun Williams’ Cowbridge team will be hoping to win this crunch tie before ticking off their games in hand to stop Sian Ruttley’s defending champions adding another trophy to their cabinet.
The encounter has created plenty of interest throughout the sport and as other clubs and leagues gauge their own levels from watching these renowned leading sides.
Lawrie Davies, managing director of Rhondda Netball, says: “I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while.
“I guess you could call me a Dinas fan at this moment in time as I’m one of their sponsors through Netball Universe. But more than that, I’m just a fan of what both teams have been able to achieve over the last ten years.
I’ve had the privilege of sitting with and learning from a host of Wales’ leading netball clubs since we started Rhondda Netball and each of them has incredibly committed leadership in place with unique qualities that have powered their success.
“CTK, Ystrad Mynach, Eastside, you name the club and I’ve banged down their door at some point.
“But as far as performance on the court goes, Dinas and Cowbridge are the current standard setters that everyone in domestic netball in Wales is aspiring to reach.
“Of course, we’re miles away from that here in Rhondda with us still being in our early days, but you’ve got to learn from the best if you ever want to mix it with the best. And in Sian Ruttley & Shaun Williams, both of these netball clubs have proven winners in charge who have spent many years honing the talents of some of Wales’ and the Celtic Dragons best players.
“They’re a credit to the Cardiff & District League, and. hopefully, the game will be a cracker.”
Dinas remain the team to beat in South Wales. No team have won more Cardiff and District Premier Division titles in the last decade than Dinas, who have clinched that title seven times.
That record has been achieved in spite of a relatively recent development set-up, meaning they rely on a smaller pool of players to choose from than many other clubs.
Over the years, however, Dinas have been able to call on quality players such as Eloisee Skinner and Emma Thomas, both Welsh internationals.
— cowbridge netball (@cowbridgenet2) April 5, 2019
In head coach Sian Ruttley, they also have one of Wales’ most successful club coaches.
Cowbridge are not far behind and have benefitted from a strategy that provides players with year-round netball. The club compete in the Cardiff and District Premier Division in the winter, but also enter the summer Swansea Premier Division.
That has enabled head coach Shaun Williams to build an impressive track record when it comes to developing young talent who can benefit from extensive match opportunity.
The club has produced a number of Welsh caps over the years as well as Dragons players with Leila Thomas, Kelly Morgan, Eleanor Roberts and Bethan Dyke among them.