Next up on the Road to the Principality series, we spoke to Aberavon Schools ahead of their Ospreylian derby against Neath in the Lawrence Miller Bowl final.
Aberavon Schools compete in the Welsh Schools National Dewar Shield, which is the oldest school boy’s competition in World rugby. The young side have earned themselves a place in the Lawrence Miller Bowl final on Thursday 2nd May in the Principality Stadium, where they face fellow Ospreylians Neath Schools.
In charge of the team is head coach Michael Dyer, who also manages the Ospreys U18s side. Speaking ahead of the game, he said: “It will be a fantastic experience for the boys, something they will remember for the rest of their lives. It’s a credit to the boys and a reward for all the hard-work they’ve put in since day one of pre-season up until now.”
The side have picked up 4 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw during the regular season after putting in impressive performances, including a 52-5 win over Blaenau Gwent, and a 39-15 victory over Cardiff A. Their hard-work saw them sit third in the table, to setup a semi-final place with first placed Ceredigion at Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth.
A superb defensive effort from the Aberavon side and clinical performance in attack saw the side come away with the 15-5 win against the league leaders, securing them a place in the finals!
Reflecting on the game, Dyer said: “Oh what a night it was! The whole 25 players that were involved that night were outstanding! I think I lived each pass and every tackle each made! But the bigger picture and the result came down to the hard work of all of the 52 players who have worn our jersey throughout this season.”
“I can’t thank the volunteer coaches who give up their time weekly enough! Jay McBride, Callum Jones and Rhys Thomas who are all past players for the side. Also to Joe Gage and Stef Andrews who have been involved with Aberavon and both pass on their experiences to the boys.” He added.
“Our first Aider, Andrew Perry and our guest coaches have been marvellous. All our sponsors, players families, friends and the clubs of the town have been so supportive and very influential in helping us grow.”
Speaking about their Finals day opponents, Dyer said: “Neath will be very tough opponents. They already claimed one win against us this season, but for us it’s about focusing on the game that’s ahead of us and learn from our last outing against the side.” Neath claimed the Ospreylian bragging rights the last time the two sides met back in November, taking the narrow 15-10 win.
“It’ll be up to the players on the day to rise to the challenge and put in a solid performance. It really is great to have four sides representing the region and competing on the schools finals day at the home of Welsh rugby. Roll on the 2nd May!”
Aberavon Schools have been running for 114 years and consists of the four Comprehensive feeder schools in Port Talbot, Ysgol Bae Baglan, Ysgol Cymer Afan, Ysgol Cwm Brombil and St. Joseph’s Comprehensive school.
Aberavon schools act as a stepping stone in the rugby player pathway for boys to develop and go on to play for the Ospreys age-grade sides, Aberavon Rugby club at senior level, before developing into regional and International level rugby. Former British and Irish Lions Allan Martin, James Hook, John Bevan and Richard Hibbard are all former players of Aberavon Schools.
Catch the squad in action on Thursday 2nd May, at the Principality Stadium, K.O 1:15pm.