This season the pressure will be on Dennis John and Richard Webster to coach to success their expensively gathered squad. Last season, when the squad was a gathering of cast offs and nearly-men, Bridgend always benefited from the element of surprise. They will have no such luxury this year. As the newfound Chequebook Charlies of Welsh Rugby, Bridgend will be the team to beat and success will depend upon whether Dennis John can coach international-grade, well-paid players. International call-ups will also hurt the squad, as will Budgett’s medical bill. BUPA will have to relocate to Bridgend. Benefactor Leighton Samuel has already called into question the point of the Celtic League, pspectatorserring to pick his big names for the Village League.
- Can Dennis John coach well paid players?
- Do they have a pack of forwards and in particular, is there enough cover at second row and scrum half?
- How will they fare in Europe?
- Will anybody turn up to watch them?
- How often will Budgett be injured?
- Will they field two back lines?
Signings: Dafydd James, Gareth Thomas, Nathan Budgett, Deiniol Jones, Jon Thiel, Joe Clark, Cerith Rees, Christian Loader
Departures: Simon Hill, Gareth Lewis, Lee Manning, Craig Hawkins, Andrew Jenkins, Marvin Thomas, Ken Morris, Steve Ford
Last Season: 5th in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 3rd in the Village
Despite the awful ground (although the new building work is trying to improve it) and the part time playing
staff, Caerphilly still manage to be in the fixture list, acting mainly as a squad fixture for the bigger boys. The real battle for the Cheesemen will be to beat Ebbw Vale twice and hope to shock the Scottish teams, in order to remain off the bottom of the pile. We could be traveling to Vicarage Road, Loftus Road or The Rec instead . . . . . . . .
- Will the Cardiff fans manage to make it out of the bar this season?
- How will they manage without Chris John?
- Will the Mad Kiwi be the best player?
Signings: Rory Greenslade-Jones, Matthew Taylor, Stuart Lawrence, Damien Geraghty, Ken Morris, Paul Jones, Martin Llewellyn, Seremai Bai, Dean Colclough, Emori Katalau, Allen Chiltern, Simon Grainger, Adrian Evans, Brett Scriven, Darren Davies, Mike Buckingham
Departures: Alfie Mocelatau, Sean Marshall, Chris John, Jonathan Hooper, Chris Bridges, Mike Wilson
Last Season: 10th in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 10th in the Village
With a list of injuries Budgett would be proud of, there’s more Cardiff players in The Heath than on CAP. The squad looks weak in the back row and Dan’s injury will severely limit our chances in Europe. Huge gamble with Iestyn when maybe 4 grafters would have been a better investment. And then, as we all know, you can’t win anything with kids.
- How will Iestyn Harris perform?
- Will Rudy be able to temper the egos?
- How badly will injuries affect the team?
- How will the kids do?
- Will Rudy be gone in 60 seconds?
Signings: Iestyn Harris, Matt Allen, Adam Jones, Rob Appleyard, Craig Hudson
Departures: Gareth Thomas, Mike Voyle, Damien Geraghty, Simon Grainger, Mike Rayer, Greg Kacala, Wayne Fyvie, Owain Williams, Steve Moore
Last Season: 2nd in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 5th in the Village
Hello Mr. Russell! Some might say they should not be in the League at all, and have to thank the General Committee for running scared for that. It makes you wonder- wallor no wall – what Ebbw are doing in the league at all. They will boast a whole new squad this season as Mr. Russell has got his Switch Card out to sign some nearly men from other Welsh clubs. Hey now Mike, these players are your choice, so get them training every morning. Gloryawaits! This season we can judge your coaching skills. So far you’ve cast no shadowon any trophies, but will there be champagne(supernova) at the end of the season? Like a punch drunk boxer, Ebbw will have to roll with itthis season. They are bound to produce a shock victory on a rain washed Wednesday night but with a poor squad and an awful away record Vale will be preparing themselves for Division 1.
- She’s electric- isn’t she?
- Who will be the team they will beat in the rain and the dark?
- Will Ooh Kevin Ellis be the best player?
- How many will sign up to the Village Pass for free ‘rugby’?
- What’s the story, morning glory?
Signings: David Weatherley, Rhys Williams, Will Thomas, Peter Sidoli, Jonathan Evans, Scott Mitchell, Neil McKim, Kati Tuipolotu, Martin Jones, Matt James, Aaron Takaranki, M Ridley, T Bagg, O Booyse, K Ellis
Departures: Nathan Budgett, Deiniol Jones, Richard Smith, Jason Strange, Mark Jones, Jonathan Hawker, Leyton Phillips, Andrew Peacock, Matthew Taylor, Shaun Connor
Last Season: 11th in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 11th in the Village
Tipped by many to be Champions because they signed an American and a Bristol reject (another!, sorry Leigh Davies). The loss of Dafydd James may be tempered by the return of the Easterby brothers, but a weak back line and the staid coaching of Gareth Jenkins will not improve the Turks that much. As they are always difficult to beat in Turkey, the game against Cardiff in October will be very interesting. The success of the WRU darlings will depend on the form of Pies Senior and the form of the spectatorserees (they may struggle with independent spectatorserees), but it will be interesting to see how Marlboro Wyatt performs.
- How many cards will Finau get?
- Will the fair weather fans return?
- Who’s got a worse habit, Owain or Chris?
- How many tackles will Mark Jones make this season?
- How the Turks play better at home against Leicester than they did against Glawster last season?
Signings: Luke Gross, Scott Morgan, Gareth Bowen, Delme Williams,
Departures: Dafydd James, Robert Mills, Mike Buckingham
Last Season: 3rd in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 4th in the Village
With a summer to rival Bridgend’s in the Chequebook Charlie stakes, the pressure will really be on Lyn Jones this season. As he bottled out of the Cardiff job he may be unsure of his ability to coach star players, but the return of Granddad and Barry “Suits You, Sir” Williams will strengthen the squad (and weaken the already negative Bank Balance!). Just where is all that money coming from? A full first team looks strong on paper and Neath should be strong enough to challenge Cardiff for the last European place . . . . . . always supposing they are not spending money they don’t have!
- How long until the friendly bank manager says “No”?
- Do Neath have enough money to catch a plane in Europe?
- What will Lyn Jones say this year?
- How often will Granddad be injured?
- Who controls the club – the rugby or the cricket?
Signings: Allan Bateman, Barry Williams, Lee Jarvis, Shaun Connor, John Slade, Andy Moore, Alfie Moclelutu
Departures: Tristan Davies, Mefin Davies, Mark Davies, Delme Williams, Darril Williams, Geraint John, Kati Tuipulotu, Andy Booth, Adam Jackson
Last Season: 6th in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 6th in the Village
Should Shane Howarth stay fit Newport will be real contenders for the title. Allan Lewis produced an excellent pack of forwards last season but a woeful back line, so the purchase of a further two South Africans should put that right. Ian Macintosh has much to do with a lumbering back line that lacks pace, but Joost Van NatWestBankherhuizen will add bums to seats. Ten man rugby should be played at Rodney Parade (a name change must be in order?) – anything to keep the ball away from the centres.
- How much will Teichmann be missed?
- How much can Ian Macintosh improve the back line?
- How many games will NatWestBankherhuizen play?
- How much petrol is left in the Bandwagon?
Signings: Joost Van Der Westhuizen, Chris Anthony, Jason Strange
Departures: Gary Teichmann, Scott Mitchell, Neil McKim, David Gray, Paul Jones
Last Season: 4th in Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 1st in the Village
A difficult team to judge, because they always play with verve and vigour and with a full first team squad are always difficult to beat. Despite claims that they develop their own talent only, the Solo card has been out for a good signing in Mefin Davies but the jury is out on the ex-Cardiff player Baber. Injuries will always hit Ponty hard and as the progresses Ponty will struggle. The set up at Ponty is not the best, but the Montego is wound up and ready to keep the pitch flat. The eloquence of Richie Collins will encourage his troops, but expect them to struggle after Christmas.
- How good is Alex Lawson?
- What is the back up in the squad once the injuries set in?
- How long will they keep up the enthusiasm before the flame dies?
- How much fuel is left in the Montego?
Signings: Mefin Davies, Gareth Baber, Duncan Bell, Nick Kelly, Sean James
Departures: Lee Jarvis, Christian Loader, Will James, Jonathan Evans, Lenny Woodard, Gary Beaumont-Smith
Last Season: 7th in the Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 8th in the Village
They have only added two props to the squad in the summer and will regret this because of the injury to Mark Taylor and the loss of Weatherley. With the return of Arwel, will Henson play at outside centre to continue his education? Swansea are always difficult to beat at home – mainly because of the way the wind blows! – and Plumtree has taught them to play away from the coast as well. The departure of Clive Griffiths will be painful as defensive discipline may slacken throughout the season, but of more significance may be the failure to secure Cunningham. Although he may have struggled (which he always feared) he would have added a dimension to a staid line up that owes much to Charvis. Expect them to be overtaken by Newport this season.
- If Charvis isn’t playing – will they lose?
- Who will be the first choice outside half?
- Who will play at outside centre?
- Who will maintain their defensive patterns without Clive Griffiths?
Signings: Johnnie Marsters, Andrew Le Chevalier
Departures: Chris Anthony, David Weatherley, Cerith Rees
Last Season: 1st in the Welsh Scottish League
Prediction: 2nd in the Village