People from across Ospreylia gathered at Margam Park on Friday night to celebrate rugby, and the people that make it happen, at the Ospreys Region Community Awards Night.
Almost 200 people from the Ospreylian rugby community turnedout on Friday evening to celebrate rugby and reward the sometimes unseen efforts of people within clubs and schools across Ospreylia. Following nominations from the public, the shortlisted candidates were at The Orangery at Margam Park to find out whom the judging panel had chosen in the eight categories.
Joe Davies, WRU Rugby Co-ordinator Ospreys West, commented on the evening and awards:
“We’ve had a fantastic night at The OSPARS, it’s been a wonderful opportunity for schools, clubs and volunteers to get together and to celebrate our sport and the people that support it every week. Without these volunteers, referees and workers, we simply wouldn’t have rugby and it’s great to have a chance to thank and reward these hard working individuals and teams.
“We received so many nominations across the eight categories and it was an incredibly hard job for our panel to shortlist them. But all of our winners this evening truly deserve to be recognised for all the efforts they have put in.
“This evening was also a chance to remember a very special man who embodied all the values we were talking about in our volunteers. Derek “Deco” Davies was a true rugby man and local legend who dedicated his life to Banwen RFC. We sadly lost Deco earlier this year so it’s an honour to rename our Lifetime Achievement Award, of which he was the inaugural winner, after him and to have his family here to present it to this year’s winner Noir James.”
2017/18 Award Winners
Mini & Junior Volunteer of the Year nominees:
Dean Davies – Penlan RFC
Emma Turner – Valley Ravens
Stephen Rawlings – Ystradgynlais RFC
Winner: Dean Davies
6 years ago Penlan RFC did not have a Junior Section. Along with Mike Rush, Dean decided to change this and has been instrumental in the Junior Section becoming what it is today. Both had played junior rugby at Penlan and thought it was time that children in the local area got to experience the benefits, not only on the field but off the field, that rugby has to offer. Five years on there are six junior teams at Penlan with good numbers in all age groups.
Youth Volunteer of the Year nominees:
Michael Dyer – Ospreys U18s
Rhian Edwards – Dulais Valley Rugby
Liam Allan – Ystradgynlais RFC
Winner: Rhian Edwards
Rhian was part of the first committee for Dulais Valley Rugby and is still there eight years later having seen the first team set up now finish youth rugby, with 15 boys going on to play senior rugby which is an achievement within its self. Rhian is still supporting the youth side today as an admin and contact with the WRU. As well as being involved in Boys Youth, Rhian is also Team Manager for Seven Sisters Ladies U18s. Rhian wants what’s best for both sexes within the rugby family and is always promoting the game to new prospects whatever their ability.
Young Leader of the Year nominees:
Michael Bevan – Aberavon
Jamie Kirkhouse – Bishop Gore
Jacob Thomas – Tondu RFC/Bryntirion Comprehensive School
Winner: Jacob Thomas
Jacob Thomas is an example of someone who has fully embraced and supported the school rugby hub programme at Bryntirion and always goes above and beyond. A talented rugby player and member of the 6th form squad, Jacob in the last year has also qualified as a rugby leader and Level 1 referee. When not in lessons Jacob can be found on the rugby pitch and has volunteered over 80 hours to the rugby programme at Bryntirion so far this term, helping to coach key stage 3 teams weekly and provide support to the Hub Officer at festivals and games. Jacob has also volunteered hours to local club Tondu RFC to referee a number of matches and coach junior teams.
Referee of the Year nominees:
Winner: Chris Williams
Chris referees showing enthusiasm, fairness but also empathy while encouraging players to enjoy themselves. Alongside refereeing at a high level on Saturdays he will always try to support junior teams, on some Sunday’s refereeing at different venues around the region.
Womens and Girls Volunteer of the Year nominees:
Becky Watkins – Morriston RFC
Adrian Howells – Seven Sisters RFC
Josh Humphreys – Ospreys U18s Girls
Winner: Becky Watkins
Becky was integral in the setup of a womens team at Morriston RFC and she has worked tirelessly to keep improving standards, not just of the team but the wider club. Her hard work has seen Morriston Ladies grow from strength to strength while she also coaches Morriston RFC U8s and works at Ospreys in the Community holiday rugby camps, encouraging girls and boys in their rugby.
Most Inspirational Person Award nominees:
Winner: Tracey Balmer
Tracey’s passion for the game of rugby is evident for all to see. She has fully emerged herself into Bridgend Sports Minis and Juniors rugby section with huge enthusiasm, taking on not only the role of Head Coach for the U7s but also managing the development of our newer U6s players, who until very recently did not have any coaches. Tracey has also been instrumental in ensuring Hawks rugby is gathering momentum in Bridgend.
This is inspirational as it is but what not many people are aware of is that Tracey suffered a deliberating illness 3 years ago, underwent emergency brain surgery and was bound to a wheelchair. To think Tracey is making this much of an impact this short time is remarkable.
Team of the Year nominees:
Swansea RFC Ladies
Bridgend Athletic Youth
Winners: Porthcawl RFC
After many years of positive progress Porthcawl RFC produced an amazing cup run, receiving no byes and only two homes games in the path to the final, where they beat Pembroke RFC. The team inspired the town with over a thousand supporting them at the stadium and people travelling from all over the world to watch the biggest day in the clubs 136-year history.
The club have seen tough times where only a few years ago they struggled to get 15 players to fulfil fixtures, but now have built a team with a full complement of Minis and Juniors sides who now all want to go on to play first team rugby for the club.
Derek “Deco” Davies Lifetime Achievement Award nominees:
Allyn Hawkes – Crynant RFC
Mike Rush – Penlan RFC
Noir James – Ystalyfera RFC
Winner – Noir James
Noir has been part of Ystalyfera RFC since he played his first game in 1969 at the age of 16. Since then he represented the club over 505 times, a current club record, and captained them for three separate seasons before finally hanging up his boots in 1996. He then went on to coach for another five seasons. During his rugby playing career he amassed a total of 1,006 points and in one season scored 24 tries and 10 drop goals, a record which still stands today! He also had a non-stop run of 121 games in which he scored in a continuous 23 run of games.
After his on field activities, he became a committee man and assistant secretary, taking on the role of Club Secretary in 2005, a position which he still holds today.. The amount of time and effort that he has put into the club is immeasurable and Noir is a true 'one club-man' with over 48 years of association with the Ystalyfera RFC.