Aberavon's Rowan Jenkins. Pic: Cardiff RFC.

Wizard Rowan Jenkins Hoping For Cup Final Magic . . . 12 Years On From Aberavon Heartbreak

By Harry Corish

Rowan Jenkins will finally make good on a promise to himself at the Principality Stadium this weekend – 12 years after the Aberavon stalwart was denied at the same venue. 

In 2011, the Wizards reached their first Premiership Cup final in 36 years. When Jenkins missed out on the game, he didn’t know it would be another dozen years before he would get the chance again.   

The 30-year-old prop is a cult hero at Aberavon and has earned his stripes over the years. 

But his long wait for this occasion has made him hungrier for silverware and for the chance to give back to a club that has given him so much – when they face Newport in the last of the last of the National Club Finals Day, which is live on S4C. 

“In my first season with Aberavon, we got to the Cup final at the Millennium Stadium,” says Jenkins, whose club lost that day 35-24 to Pontypridd. 

“I was a newcomer to the squad, so I was left out for the older players who may not have the opportunity again. 

“But if you had told me I’d have to wait another 12 years . . .  

“There is definitely a different squad mentality this time around. We are going there to win, not just to enjoy the occasion.” 


Aberavon have come a long way in a short period of time. In 2014, the club only narrowly stayed in the Premiership by one point after gaining a try bonus point against Carmarthen Quins on the final day of the season. 

“I was emerging around that time, but I was still cutting my teeth in the game,” says Jenkins. 

“I always felt that pressure that when you put on the jersey, you think about who wore it before you and wonder if you are going to do it justice. 

“It’s a club that will give you everything, on and off the field. It has a family feeling to it. 

“Once we came out of that trial by fire in 2014, we knew we didn’t want to be in that position again. It really drove us on. A lot of boys want to succeed at club rugby, not just want to pass through.” 

Seven years on, Jenkins got his first taste of European rugby earlier this season when he was called up for Cardiff to play against Toulouse and Harlequins in the Champions Cup. 


While Newport have not quite seen the lows that the Aberavon side have, they, too, have been growing in strength in recent years under the leadership of coaches Craig Warlow and now Tyron Morris. 

“Every time we play Newport, it is always a battle,” says Jenkins. 

“It would be wrong to say they have come from nowhere this year, but massive credit must be given to them; to have put themselves in a double contention is incredible. 

“Newport play pretty simple rugby. It’s direct which allows their backs to be expansive. They do the basics well.” 

It was Newport who got the upper hand the last time the two sides met with a 30-25 win at the Talbot Athletic Ground in December. 

But going into the final, Jenkins has no worries about past meetings and insists it’s anyone’s game to win on Sunday. 

“We have to have belief. I wasn’t involved in the last game, I was away for the European game with Cardiff against Harlequins.  

“But there’s no fear factor from the players. It wasn’t our best day in the league meeting, we threw two interceptions, but even at the end after the final scrum there was clear relief from them that they hadn’t lost.” 


Trebanos and Bedwas will get the finals day off to a fiery start in the WRU Championship Plate Final.  

Bargoed and Neath will then turn the heat up in the WRU Championship Cup Final, Before Aberavon and Newport complete the National Club Finals Day showpiece with the WRU Premiership Cup. 

Playing at the Principality Stadium is the pinnacle for most players in Wales and for many, it is only ever a dream. 

“You hear about some of the difficulties clubs face, like financially and keeping hold of players within the season,” adds Jenkins. 

“A lot of players lose touch with their clubs due to jobs and things, for financial security and their families. 

“That makes moments like this even more special. The opportunity to represent themselves on a big stage, have their families there, I’m sure there is so much pride for all the players. 

“These boys will look back at these games for the rest of their lives. 

“To be able to represent the club they love, the village and their families, it’s a really big deal for them.” 


S4C – Sunday: 12.45pm 

Live coverage of the WRU National Club Finals Day. English commentary available. 

WRU Championship Plate Final – Trebanos v Bedwas – 13:00 k/o 

WRU Championship Cup Final – Bargoed v Neath – 15:15 k/o 

WRU Premiership Cup Final – Aberavon v Newport – 17:35 k/o 



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