Next up on our Road to the Principality series, is National Youth Cup finalists, Morriston.
Ahead of their final at the Principality Stadium against Cardiff Met, Youth Manager and Youth Honorary Secretary of Morriston RFC, Hugh Lewis said:
“It’s great, it’s a big honour for the boys and for the club. To play at the Principality stadium is the dream, we couldn’t have asked for a better field to play on, it is the ultimate! It’s really down to the determination and hard work of the boys, the whole team we have here at the club, we’re very lucky at the moment.”
Head coach of the side Paul Thomas, is joined by backs coach Steven White, forwards coach Andy Powell, along with Wayne Davies as physio. Joining the coaching setup are two familiar faces to the Ospreys. Back Keelan Giles assist with the coaching, as well as fellow Osprey Joe Thomas before his departure to New Zealand a few weeks back.
Lewis added: “It’s been great working with the Osprey boys, Joe and Keelan, they’re both doing very well for themselves. It’s nice to see them give back to the community and help out whenever they can. Obviously, it’s disappointing to lose Joe after he’s gone to New Zealand, but they were both here helping with the backs week in, week out on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s for at least the last three years, and Keelan still is. Having experienced backs like those come in and give you those ideas has been fantastic.”
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the club, as Lewis commented:
“We’ve been through some pretty rough times. About four years ago we were really struggling. We’d have only 10 or 11 players show up to training, to maybe fielding 15 on a weekend if we rung around. Going from that to seeing ourselves as one of the top four youth sides in Wales is a huge turnaround and one we hope to improve on next season.”
He added: “We missed out on the regional play-offs, losing out to Neath Athletic, but we’re only first and second year players with just the two third years so we really are doing extremely well.”
The young side not only find themselves in the National Youth Cup Final, they’re also through to the Ospreys E/F Regional Cup Final, the Swansea District Brisco Cup Final and the Swansea and District Cup semi finals. As well as these pending games, the squad have already won the Ospreys West Cup, after topping the league and finishing the competition unbeaten.
“At the beginning of the year we’d have been happy just to make it one cup final and play at the Principality. We’re having a fantastic season considering we’d planned for this year to be a developmental year for the squad. We didn’t really expect to get this far but the boys have gone above and beyond. We have an excellent team of people here. Hopefully there’ll be more to come next year!”
Morriston earned themselves a spot in the finals after a 21-17 win over Brecon in the semi-finals.
“It’s huge for us as a team of people and players, it’s more than we could have ever dreamed of! It’s huge for the club and the community. Hopefully it’ll spur others onto get involved and come along to the club to play rugby. There’s a real feel good factor amongst the club right now.”
Attention now turns to the Final at the Principality, where the young side will face tough opposition against Cardiff Met:
“We’re definitely going to have a tough game against them. They’re all first year university students making them third year youth and 19 year olds, so that will be a challenge. But one that we’re going to face head on! We know what we’re up against, but we’ve played some really tough sides this year!”
Included in those tough sides, Morriston soared to victory against an unbeaten Crymach, and Nant Conwy. The side have already picked up one victory ahead of the finals. A coin toss win has secured the side the Welsh changing room for the afternoon!
“We’re not just going there to lie down! We’re well up for it. You could say it’s a David and Goliath match but we’re not going to go up there to be second best to anyone. It’s a challenge we’re really looking forward to!”
Catch the squad in action on Saturday 4th May at the Principality Stadium, K.O 3:30pm.