Rhondda Schools Rugby was the toast of Wales on Saturday 13 May 2006, when the vibrant Rhondda Under 15s side clinched the prestigious Dewar Shield.
It is the fourth time in the past eight years that a young Rhondda schools team has lifted the prized trophy and their seventh final in that time.
In a pulsating final played in Llandovery the Under 15s side produced a brilliant performance even without star flanker Callum Williams (YGG Y Cymer) who had broken his hand in the semi-final, and the Rhondda side proved too much for the strong Pontypridd side to handle.
Rhondda dominated from start to finish and were well worth their win, though Ponty refused to lie down, scoring two excellent tries to keep Rhondda sweating until the final whistle.
Spurred on again by their fantastic support of younger district players, former players and parents, the Rhondda went near to scoring in the opening minutes as their forwards laid down the challenge to Ponty.
Huge tackles in defence were led by Rhys Gillard (Tonypandy Comp.), Kyle Evans (Treorchy Comp.) and Morgan Kinsey (YGG Y Cymer) that rattled Pontys attackers. Whilst the ever present flankers Mark Jenkins (Treorchy Comp.) and Jack Gibbon (Tonypandy Comp.) were constantly on hand to snap up any loose ball. With their front five dominant at the scrum and lineout, Rhondda kept an iron grip on possession along with territory in the first half.
Rhonddas continuous pressure was bound to tell and eventually Sean Nicholas (Treorchy Comp.), who had a tremendous day with the boot, slotted over a monstrous 45 metre penalty before putting his pack in the corner, 5 metres from the Ponty try line with a well judged kick. Kyle Evans took the resultant lineout and from the driving maul Mark Jenkins emerged to claim a try that Sean Nicholas successfully converted from out wide.
But it was not all about forward play. wingers William Rose and James Sheppard (both YGG Y Cymer) made several exciting breaks that got the crowd to their feet and behind their inventive play was the colossus Callum Rowe (Porth County). Whenever Ponty did start to make a break his tackles were all engulfing and his ability to stay on his feet bought his team-mates precious time to get back in defence, whilst his defence from grubber kicks was outstanding.
For the first fifteen minutes of the second half it was more of the same from the Rhondda, with William Rose, Jack Gibbon and scrum-half Cain Rees (Porth County) all going close to scoring, but where held short by some outstanding defence by Pontypridd. However, the score remained 10 0.
With a quickly taken penalty, followed by some excellent passing and movement, Ponty managed a fantastic try against the run of play. with a successful conversion it was game on.
But Rhondda responded superbly, with all their months and years of training meant that they had the physical edge along with the energy and confidence to step up another gear. A great pass from Sean Nicholas sent James Sheppard away, who committed the defence before slipping a pass to Thomas Rees who was stopped just short of the line. Although the defence managed to scramble the ball to touch, another catch and drive at the lineout gave Mark Jenkins his second try that Sean Nicholas again converted from out wide.
If Rhondda thought the game was won, they were mistaken, as Ponty threw everything into attack and eventually scored a deserved try, but missed the all important conversion. Soon after Rhondda were awarded a penalty for offside and up stepped Sean Nicholas to put the match beyond doubt.
In the dying minutes Ponty continued the pressure, but huge tackling by Lewis Crabbe (Tonyrefail Comp.), Thomas Rees and Rhys Gillard dislodged the ball in contact for Sean Nicholas to kick out of play for scenes of jubilation on the final whistle for Rhondda captain Ieuan Davies (Treorchy Comp.) and his team.
Rhondda Districts coach Chris Jones was ecstatic as he praised his team, stating The team deserved this win because theyve shown tremendous commitment throughout the season. We are thrilled to bring the Dewar Shield back to the Rhondda.
Adding This is not just a team victory, it is a community victory. This memorable victory could not have been achieved without the fantastic supporters, parents, teachers, schools, clubs and everyone else in the Rhondda who has given a massive support to help these boys succeed.
The Rhondda Under 15s team on the day were: 15 Callum Rowe (Porth County), 14 James Sheppard (YGG Y Cymer), 13 Thomas Rees (Treorchy), 12 Sean Nicholas (Treorchy), 11 William Rose (YGG Y Cymer), 10 Lewis Crabbe (Tonyrefail), 9 Cain Rees (Porth County), 8 Morgan Kinsey (YGG Y Cymer), 7 Mark Jenkins (Treorchy), 6 Jack Gibbon (Tonypandy), 5 Rhys Gillard (Tonypandy), 4 Kyle Evans (Treorchy), 3 Ieuan Davies (c) (Treorchy), 2 Alex Pugsley (Tonyrefail), 1 Adam Parry (Treorchy).
Rhondda is coached by Chris Jones, Clive Jones and Neil Boobyer.Full time - Rhondda 20 12 Pontypridd