By Harry Corish
It’s been a big week for Rhondda boys and Ystrad Rhondda head coach Dylan Jones hopes the spotlight will stay on the Valley’s sporting pride.
In midweek, the world’s media descended on Tylorstown Welfare Hall to hear local boy Rob Page name his Wales squad for football’s World Cup.
In rugby, the focus this weekend will be on the return of the Admiral Welsh Championship after a week off as Ystrad Rhondda aim to kickstart their season by winning at Tata Steel.
Ystrad Rhondda currently sit in seventh place, with Tata Steel rock bottom and without a win.
After the recent disappointment of losing 28-25 to unbeaten Pontypool – courtesy of a last-minute Steff Edwards kick – Jones believes his side can take a huge amount of confidence into the rest of the season.
Ystrad have won three from four in the league and the Rhondda side will be looking to displace either Bedwas or Cross Keys in sixth place, with a good bonus point win against a struggling Tata side.
Jones said: “We are pleased with how we have shaped up this year.
‼️ TEAM NEWS ‼️
⏰ 1.00 pm Kick Off
— Ystrad Rhondda RFC (@YstradRFC) November 11, 2022
“We had a tough year last year. We suffered with a lot of injuries and the season was all over the place so it was really it was hard to find any momentum.
“After a difficult start, we have got a bit of consistency now, and we are playing some excellent rugby.
“There was a feeling of disappointment at the end, but an overriding feeling of pride in our performance against Pontypool.
“To lose it like that, at the death, was horrible, but the boys played out of their skins. It was an exceptional performance.
“We are a small village club, so to be able to play and compete against the likes of Neath and Pontypool is incredible. Just playing at this level is something that the whole club and the village looks forward to.”
Since coming back to his hometown club, Alex Webber has made a huge impact in the Championship for Ystrad Rhondda.
But the former Wales Sevens and Pontypool flyer has had an impact behind the scenes as well as on the pitch, having taken up the role of player/backs coach at the club.
Jones added: “Alex has made a huge impact amongst the squad, combined playing with his backs coaching role.
“He loves the club, and he has loved putting something back into the club he loves. He has been driving standards in training and he always leads from the front. He’s been great for the young lads, who look up to him.
— Ystrad Rhondda RFC (@YstradRFC) June 11, 2022
“Having played at the level he has, he gives the young boys confidence, and they follow him. I think he has definitely enjoyed the new lease of life the youngsters have given him. There’s a lot of talented players coming through and I think that has given him a renewed energy.
“He showed the way against Pontypool and that performance shows the levels of rugby we can reach.
“We went toe-to-toe with Pontypool at Pontypool Park, but we can’t rest on our laurels, we must keep backing it up.”
Second-placed Pontypool host third-placed Bargoed in a huge clash at Pontypool Park.
The visitors have won six games in a row since their defeat against Neath on the opening weekend.
Pooler have won six from six and will be hoping to extend their perfect start.
Elsewhere in the league, leaders Neath host Cardiff Met, who sit eighth.
TEAM NEWS – NEATH v CARDIFF MET ⚫️🏉
⏰ KO – 2:30pm
🎟 Adults £8 – U16s FREE
Tickets are available at the turnstiles – also online to save time at the turnstiles via:
🔗 https://t.co/HVuvJE11Ir#EatSleepNeathRepeat #NeathRFC pic.twitter.com/zgVb8CAlh9
— Neath RFC (@neathrfc) November 11, 2022
After an excellent start to the season, the Archers have endured a difficult run, but the students put an end to a four-game losing streak in the league last time out, with an excellent 37-29 win against Beddau.
Sixth-placed Cross Keys host fifth-placed Bedwas in a crunch game for both sides.
The top few teams are just starting to break away, and with several sides breathing down their necks, both sides will be gunning for victory.
Maesteg Quins host Beddau with both sides struggling so far in the league.
Narberth are in fine form and head to Ystalyfera in fine fettle, looking to continue their four-match winning streak. Meanwhile, Ystalyfera have lost their last four games in a row.
Trebanos have already beaten this week’s opponents Glamorgan Wanderers in the WRU Championship Cup competition. They shocked Wanderers in the first round earlier this season with a 14-0 win in Ely.
But with the Swansea Valley side struggling in the league this season, the Wanderers will be confident they can avenge their Cup loss.
Banos were defeated 43-13 last time out against Ystrad Rhondda and have only one win this season.
November 12, 2022
Cross Keys v Bedwas
Maesteg Quins v Beddau
Neath v Cardiff Met
Pontypool v Bargoed
Tata Steel v Ystrad Rhondda
Trebanos v Glamorgan Wanderers
Ystalyfera v Narberth