30 July 2017 / Club News

2017-18 Season Preview

As the new season approaches there is a strong sense of confidence and optimism at Aberystwyth Rugby Club. In 2016/17 they set the bar at a high level in finishing their inaugural season in SWALEC Division 1 West in fifth position. Next season they hope to do even better.

Last season’s success has already attracted an impressive number of strong, experienced players to the club for the new season. Among them are Premiership players Phil Day (Llandovery and Scarlets), Tom James (Merthyr and Neath) and Ian Ellis (Neath ) along with more local ‘signings’ Leighton Daniels and James Plumbridge. More are sure to follow. Almost all of last season’s squad will be available too so the end result should be stronger competition for places and higher levels of performance.

Head coach Andrew Barlow is particularly pleased with the outlook. “This summer we’ve been working hard to make improvements both on and off the field” he said. “The use of video analysis and the services of a strength and conditioning coach (at Crossfit Aberystwyth ) will result in higher fitness levels and a more professional approach to training to improve on last year’s position”.

Andrew will be helped by assistant coaches Ifan Thomas, Craig Turner and Rob Rudge. The first team will be captained for the second successive season by Lee ‘Truck’ Evans. “My target is for Aber to finish top of Division 1 next year” he said.

The senior squad will have three pre-season games in August before their Division 1 programme starts. These games will be against Championship side Newcastle Emlyn (12th) at home; Newtown (19th) at home and Haverfordwest (26th) away, in the first round of the Pembrokeshire Cup.

One of the most exciting and promising prospects for the new season is the likely launch of a mid-week Floodlit league for mid-Wales clubs to encourage them to develop second teams. If this league comes to fruition Aber should be able to field a second XV (Aber Athletic) more regularly and this will go a long way towards enhancing the playing strength and depth within the club – and create more competition for first team places.

After a disappointing 2016/17 season for the Aber Youth XV, they are hoping to field a team on a more regular basis in 2017/18. Last season there was a shortage of players, but there are indications that things will get better in the coming year. “A strong group from last year’s under-16s together with a number of new recruits has already led to an increase in numbers and a much more positive feeling in the squad,” says dedicated coach Wayne Thomas. “But it’s likely to be a tough season though, as our young squad will be up against some well-established teams like league champions Neyland. So there’s a steep learning curve ahead.” 

The coming season promises to be the most exciting for many years at the rugby club. Aber has now established itself firmly as the strongest club in mid-Wales and Cardiganshire and the club to join for any talented, ambitious young players. Training for the senior and youth squads takes place at the Plascrug ground on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6.15. The under 16s train every Tuesday and Friday evening from 5.30. New members for any age group and new sponsors are always welcome.

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