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CAVC secure back-to-back titles in dramatic fashion

Pathway | 8th December 2022

Cardiff and Vale College retained their National Schools and Colleges League title in dramatic fashion at Parc y Scarlets on Wednesday.

Martyn Fowler’s men lifted their first league title at Principality Stadium last season, with a side including academy members such as Harrison James and Mackenzie Martin. And they made it back-to-back league titles with a last-gasp, comeback victory over Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli.

Elsewhere, Ysgol Glantaf edged out Coleg y Cymoedd in a thrilling plate final between the league’s third and fourth sides.

Cardiff and Vale College 35 Coleg Sir Gar 30

In Llanelli, CAVC’s side included Cardiff age grade players such as Lucas de la Rua, Blessing Kilonda, Ethan Rudyj and captain Saul Hurley, with first team star Ben Thomas a member of the coaching team.

But the capital side, who also topped the table ahead of Wednesday’s final, had to dig deep to come out on top at Parc y Scarlets.

Despite both sides having a share of opportunities in the opening exchanges, it took 15 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Josh Morse was penalised for hands in the ruck, and CAVC’s Rhys Mottram duly slotted the resulting conversion.

Centre Gabe McDonald brought proceedings level with a penalty of his own, as Sir Gar built momentum to take control of the encounter. After a period of sustained pressure on the CAVC goal-line, earning a series of penalties, the west Wales outfit finally crossed for the game’s first try as scrum half Tom Morgan sniped over from close range.

Sir Gar extended their advantage on the half hour mark after sharp hands across the backline sent Harry Fuller over in the corner. 

A missed conversion left Cardiff and Vale College with a 15-3 half time deficit, but they wasted no time in cutting Sir Gar’s lead after the break. 

An early penalty, kicked to the corner, gave Fowler’s side field position and while the initial drive was illegally halted by Sir Gar, lock Don Kipulu powered through three defenders to dot down.

Mottram added the extras, but Sir Gar once again secured breathing room on the scoreboard as Fuller added a second with a fine solo finish - crossing for his 11th try of the campaign.

A second Mottram penalty put CAVC back within touching distance, and the scores were soon level as a rampant driving maul earned a penalty try from referee Ben Connor.

However, Sir Gar once again replied as Matthew Williams beat four defenders to cross for the west Wallians’ fourth try of the evening. 

A McDonald penalty opened a 10-point gap on the scoreboard, leaving Cardiff and Vale College with a mountain to climb heading into the final eight minutes of the encounter.

Tom Hughes chipped away at the deficit with a penalty, and CAVC once again turned to the power of the pack to bring scores level. A driving line-out saw the capital city side advance into the red zone, with Evan Saltmarsh finding his way over the whitewash.

However, having been outscored four tries to three on the night, CAVC knew a draw would not be enough to retain their title. Something special was needed and with the clock in the red, time was running out for the reigning champions.

The ball was spread across the backline to number eight de la Rua, who showed soft hands to put replacement Evan Prosser in space on the right. The back row had plenty of work to do, but cut back inside to beat two defenders and stretch his way to the try-line, sparking wild celebrations amongst the CAVC ranks.

However, there will be little time for celebrations for CAVC, who depart for Thailand on Thursday to take part in an international tournament alongside some of the best rugby schools across the world, including Grey College (South Africa), Millfield (England) and Hamilton Boys (New Zealand).


Reflecting on a memorable final, director of rugby Martyn Fowler said: “It’s credit to the boys’ hard work, and the group of coaches behind them. We’re still a young programme, and have only had an A Licence for seven years.  But we’re doing really well and keep building. 

“We didn’t get our line-out drive right initially, but put that right in the second half and had more control of it, particuarly with Saul at the back.

“We also just showed a little bit more belief. We kept talking about playing the game and not the occasion, and we did that in the second half because we were definitely second best in the first." 

Captain Hurley added: “I can’t believe what’s just happened. I’m lost for words.

“That sums up CAVC’s character. The way we had our backs against the wall for most of the match but came back like that, I’m over the moon. I can’t believe what’s just happened.

“The big thing for us in the first half was work rate. We might’ve taken it for granted a little bit at the start, but the intensity ramped up in the second half. We kept the ball, kept gaining territory and kept fighting for every inch.”


Coleg y Cymoedd 12 Ysgol Glantaf 24

Earlier in the day, Ysgol Glantaf and Coleg y Cymoedd went head-to-head for the plate. Both sides enjoyed impressive campaigns, finishing in the top four, and produced an entertaining final to finish the season.

Sion Davies scored the only try of the first half to give Glantaf a 7-0 lead at the interval, with Coleg y Cymoedd missing a number of opportunities of their own. 

The contest sparked into life in the second half, with number eight Ethan Parry adding Glantaf’s second. 

Dewi Thomas was sent to the sin bin after a deliberate knocked on denied Coleg y Cymoedd an attacking opportunity, and they took full advantage of the extra man with Evan Woods putting the Nantgarw side on the board.

Hookers Dafydd Jones and Gavin Parry exchanged sides but Harri Wilde’s late penalty secured the plate for Glantaf, who had Teddy Williams amongst their backroom team.