The draws have been made, the maps have been checked, and now Welsh football clubs are preparing for their summer stint in the sun. Matthew Burgess says the cards – as usual – are not stacked in the Welsh clubs’ favour, but one-game shoot-outs might yet enable the likes of Connah’s Quay and Barry Town United to make their mark. Anticipating how Welsh clubs will fare in European competitions is generally a difficult summer task at the best times, yet the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on Welsh football only serves to muddy the waters further. In football's new normal, all qualifying rounds are to be decided over one game and ties could be hosted at neutral venues - or determined without a ball even being played - should Covid restrictions dictate.
Alun Wyn Jones may be poised to become the most capped rugby player in history – but his first plan is to impress his new boss. The Wales captain is scheduled to pass Richie McCaw’s mark of 148 international caps this autumn, but his more immediate aim is to show new Ospreys coach Toby Booth the true meaning of staying power. Jones has been involved in his 18th senior pre-season routine with the Ospreys in recent days, but his first since Booth became head coach and the former London Irish chief says: “He’s at the start of his career for me.
Cymru Premier clubs Connah's Quay and Barry Town have learnt the identity of their respective European opponents later this month. Connah's Quay will face FK Sarajevo at home in what will be the Nomads' first ever UEFA Champions League qualifying tie, while Barry Town have been handed an away draw to Faroe Islanders RSI Runavík in the UEFA Europa League.
Dewi Griffiths smashed his 5k personal best in a lightning-fast elite men's race at the Podium 5K event on Saturday evening. Cambridge and Coleridge athlete Marc Scott finished first in a new British record time of 13:20 at the event in Barrowford, Lancashire, a mark which was just outside the European record. But it was Griffiths' sixth placed time of 13:43, which caught the eye in the week that it was announced this year's London Marathon would be an elite only race.
Aaron Ramsey has been offered a route towards more regular starts in Italy after Juventus appointed Andrea Pirlo as their manager following the sacking of Maurizio Sarri. Former Italy and Juve midfielder Pirlo is a stated admirer of Ramsey and the expectation is that the Wales international will now move from being a peripheral influence in Turin to a central performer. Since moving to Italy from Arsenal a year ago, Ramsey has been among Juve’s substitutes more often than he has begun games and has rarely been given an extended run of starts.
Geraint Thomas believes his return to the road is nicely paced as the countdown starts to the Tour de France at the end of the month. The Team Ineos rider raced for the first time competitively when he finished 24th in a bunched sprint at the end of the opening stage of the Tour de l’Ain in Ceyzériat, France on Friday. The Welsh 2018 Tour de France winner has happy with his display and will look for further progress in the remainder of the tour which continues on Saturday with a stage in the Jura mountains that includes five categorized climbs.
Welsh athletes will be looking to continue their successful return to action when they travel to Lancashire for this evening's prestigious Podium 5K event. Leading a strong Welsh contingent in the women’s field will be Jenny Nesbitt and Clara Evans. The Cardiff Athletics clubmates will be looking to follow up their excellent wins in Lisburn last weekend.
Former Wales star turned adventurer Richard Parks knows all about survival – and he believes keeping heads above water is all anyone in rugby can do at present. As the professional end of the game in Wales prepares to return in a fortnight, the man now renowned for toughing things out in a hostile environment reckons it’s going to take a huge effort to avoid the dangerous currents within the sport he used to play. After weeks of talks over pay cuts, the united front shown by the regional players collapsed when those at the Scarlets did their own deal by signing new contracts – leaving the Welsh Rugby Players Association looking weak and ineffective.
Canadian forward Mike McNamee has committed to Cardiff Devils for the 2020-21 Elite League season. McNamee is the 10th player to re-sign for the Devils for the new campaign and the sixth import. “Mike is such a versatile player, highly skilled, great defensively and also has so much offensive talent,” said club managing director Todd Kelman.
With rallying currently still stuck in a ditch as other sports in Wales start to resume, past glories are all that’s on offer. So, the perfect excuse to hear from Wales’ swashbuckling former British Rally champion David Llewellin, who tells Paul Evans of his infamous highs and lows chasing the Welsh International Rally title. High speed impatience to score victory on his home Welsh International Rally undoubtedly delayed David Llewellin from lifting the winners’ trophy. The most spectacular of these, beyond limits misdemeanours, came in 1986, when he crashed his Metro 6R4 not once, but twice.
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