Over the past few months, the battle has been ongoing to find the finest school or college rugby teams in Wales. This culminated in the Welsh Schools & Colleges League finals’ day at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff where the best-of-the-best were on show.
After playing several matches over autumn and early winter, the Coleg Llandrillo team eventually qualified for the National Schools and Colleges Bowl Final along with Cardiff’s Whitchurch High School - which has produced the likes of Sam Warburton, Owen Lane and Christ Tshiunza over the years. After a strong first half, the Llandrillo team eventually ran out 52-29 losers.
The Coleg Llandrillo Rugby Academy is coordinated by Andrew Williams - who is also RGC’s current captain – working alongside Afon Bagshaw, current RGC player and U18's academy coach.
Andrew Williams said: “Playing in the final was a reward for all the academy players who have had over 18 months of rugby taken away from them due to the pandemic. After a difficult start to the season we have grown significantly over recent weeks and it was great to see all the players expressing themselves at the National Stadium in Cardiff.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but it was an unforgettable experience and I am proud of what they and the support staff have accomplished. We look to return for another amazing opportunity…we go again!”
Coleg Llandrillo Rugby Academy captain Gareth Parry added: “All the squad were pleased to have had the opportunity to play at the Principality; I was personally very proud to have been chosen to captain our squad. My mum, dad and godparents - who had flown in from Spain to spectate - were bursting with pride.
“It was a great game of two halves, where we dominated the first half, before Whitchurch fought back strongly in the second half. Eventually, we couldn't hold on for the win, but we gave it everything. We owe it all to the Coleg Llandrillo Rugby Academy, which gave us the platform to have this amazing opportunity.”
The Coleg Llandrillo team on the day was: Thomas Jarman; Owen Parry, Finnley Jones, Cain Jones, Reuben Lovatt; Tomos Hughes, Caio Parry; Gareth Parry, Brychan Jones, Patrick Nelson, Logan Jones, Elis Evans, Evren Ozbilen, Charlie Probert, Tal Taylor. Replacements were: Osian Burt, Emyr Jones, Ethan Say, Aran Thomas, Celt Roberts, Luke Jones, Sior Jones, Afan Jones, Gethin Williams.
Since Cardiff, eight Coleg Llandrillo Rugby Academy players (Gareth Parry, Brychan Jones, Patrick Nelson, Elis Evans, Charlie Probert, Tal Taylor, Cain Jones and Gruffudd ab Ieuan) have been invited to join the U18's Welsh Rugby Union Talent ID Development Squad, and 25 Llandrillo Rugby Academy learners have been selected for RGC’s U18’s academy.
As part of student development within the college’s Rugby Academy, learners have access to the following: 15 hours timetabled for rugby – three sessions a week, with fixtures played on Wednesdays; an intense pre-season programme; emphasis on core, positional and unit skills, game management and tactical awareness; individual and team analysis, and development plans and core skill assessments.
For more information about rugby, or any sports courses, or places in any of the college’s sporting academies across Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, call the college’s Learner Services team on 01492 542 338.