Cardiff Rugby academy manager Gruff Rees was a busy man in midweek, taking in no fewer than three games within the capital city confines.
First up was Ysgol Glantaf’s opening win in the Welsh Schools & Colleges League. After defeats to Cardiff & Vale College and Coleg y Cymoedd, they came good at Whitchurch HS to earn the local bragging rights.
Jac Davies crossed for two of his side’s six tries and Harri Wilde kicked three conversions. Tom Moore got the only points for Whitchurch, who have now lost all three games to date.
Next on Rees’ agenda was an internal game at Cardiff University ahead of their opening fixture in the BUCS Super Rugby tournament against Northumbria University. Then it was on to the Arms Park for the heavyweight clash between unbeaten Cardiff & Vale College and Cymoedd in the televised game in the Schools and Colleges league.
“It was a great day in which to get a snap-shot of the talent in the region. It was obvious from the two league games that a lot of players are still struggling from having missed 18 months of rugby,” said Rees.
“There was a lack of guidance and leadership at times and the Year 12 players were technically deficient in some areas. But that is only to be expected after such a lengthy lockdown.
“The more games they play, the better their game management and understanding will become. There was lots of energy and endeavour, but only a few stand-out players.
“One of those was Harrison James, the CAVC centre, who is already in our academy. There were a number of English clubs looking at him a year or so ago, but he stayed within the Cardiff Rugby system.”
Finn Charles gave CAVC a flying start with a try which James converted. The centre then added a penalty to make it 10-0 and it was the home side who were very much in control.
Lock Jack Payne clawed back a try for Cymoedd in the second half, but then Mackensie Martin replied to with a second CAVC try that James improved to make it 17-5. Replacement scrum half Rhys Price then cut the gap with a second Cymoedd try and skipper Jacob Symes’ conversion made it a tense finish at 17-12.
“If the game had gone on much longer then I think Cymoedd would have won. We were exactly where we wanted to be in the first half, but after that we tried to throw the game away,” admitted CAVC head coach Martyn Fowler.
“It was a top end A Licence Schools & Colleges League performance from us in the first 35 minutes, but more like a normal schoolboy match in the second half. There is a lot for us to learn from this game.
“We’ve won the first three games, but the next three against the same opponents are going to be much harder. We’ve got a lot to work on in terms of our game management and our work in the contact area.”
Llandovery College went west and came up with seven tries in their 43-5 win over Pembrokeshire Colleges. Jacob Williams got two of them and the others came from Ieuan Bissell, Kai Inker, Jack Davies, Lex Dennett and Tom Davies.
There were also seven tries from reigning champions Coleg Gwent at Parc Eirias as they beat Coleg Llandrillo 40-7 to maintain their unbeaten record. Outside half Sam Berry scored 15 points with a try and five conversions and there were two tries for Huw Anderson.
It was much closer at Neath Port Talbot College, where Gower College just managed to pull off a 24-20 victory. Coleg Sir Gar, who had a week off in the league, went to Millfield and found themselves trailing 35-0 at the break before eventually going down 42-7.