A bleak pall hangs over Maesteg Harlequins RFC and will for a considerable time to come. Club members have been left absolutely distraught, as news of the tragic, untimely and devastating death of current player Rhodri Roberts, sadly and slowly, sinks in.
Rhodri joined Maesteg Quins in 2006 and made an immediate impact. Initially a barnstorming, ball-carrying back-row forward, he eventually moved up to the front-row. His performances and quiet, calm, demeanor earned him a great deal of respect, within Maesteg Harlequins and from opponents alike.
Such is the respect and esteem in which he is held, Rhodri's peers elected him club captain for the 2009-2010 season.
A few seasons later, Rhodri's performances caught the eye of Aberafan RFC, who instantly made their interest known.
Work commitments prevented Rhodri from fully following-up the prospect of playing Principality Premier rugby. He worked every hour available to support his burgeoning family, who meant so much to him and who now so tragically have such a huge void to fill for the rest of their lives.
Maesteg Harlequins also have a massive void to fill, as one of its brightest stars and friend to many will no longer be with us. Nevertheless, it is with Rhodri's entire family that our thoughts, heart-felt condolences and love are extended at this unbendingly painful time.
Rhodri's quiet, unassuming nature will be sorely missed, but rest assured such is the measure of the man, he is too well respected to be forgotten. Rhodri's family should be proud of the typical, wonderful Welsh principles they instilled into him and what he stood for: family first, work and then play, and boy how he could play.
Maesteg Harlequins RFC can only be thankful Rhodri chose to don our coal black and blood red. He represented us with a dignity, sense of fair play and commitment that is the preserve of a special person - a special player.
We can only hope Rhodri gained as much pleasure as he gave us in his eight seasons, 139 games, three league titles, Silver Ball win and Millennium Stadium appearance while at South Parade. Rhodri gave so much pleasure to those fortunate enough to have watched him play, those privileged enough to stand side by side with him on the field and even more so those graced with the good fortune of being a part of his family. He gave everybody so much enjoyment and so many memories.
Rest in peace Rhodri. You have broken our hearts in the same way you broke through tackles. We are devastated to lose you.
Now, go carry the ball for God.
Mae cariad Iesu drech na mwy.
Maesteg Harlequins (Tir Iarll) rugby football club is a friendly, hospitable club, which promotes Rugby Union on a strictly amateur basis.
A warm welcome awaits anyone who wishes to play or support rugby union and enjoy the South Parade and Maesteg Harlequins club experience. Training is on Mondays and Thursdays at South Parade starting at 6:30pm. Wele ti - See you soon.
Interested in playing rugby? Maesteg Quins want players of all abilities to join their newly formed Under 16s team.
Training takes place on South Parade every Tuesday at 6:30pm.
You will be coached by the senior coaches along with Ospreys Under 20 Jay Ronan and Sion King.
All players welcome.
The Quins ventured to Pandy Park Tondu for the Annual Evs Sevens tournament. in the blistering summer heat, it must have been boiling because
Alan Thomas didn't wear a coat, the Quins performed admirably throughout the day. They lost just one match against eventual winners Tondu.
The tournament was slightly more competitive, as the players from Premier League clubs weren't allowed to compete in any of the invitation teams.
It was to a packed house that Maesteg Harlequins celebrated their best league position in their 115 years history at their annual Presentation Evening.
The title was claimed in the last game of the Quins’ twenty-two match league programme. Consequently, amid much celebration and with a great deal of pride, the Division Two trophy was officially presented to club captain Gareth Lewis on the night.
Just twenty-six years ago the Quins were awarded full WRU status. For a number of years the Quins remained the ‘unfashionable’ club in the valley. Players generally preferred to move between Maesteg Celtic and Nantyffyllon, with the better ones joining the Old Parish. As a result, for a while the Quins spent a fair share of their time in the lower echelons of the Central Glamorgan and when they came around, the National leagues.
Therefore, with the WRU restructuring by re-introducing leagues along demarcated geographical lines, it is amazing to see the Quins as the top club in the upper Llynfi valley.
A year ago the Quins finished fifth in Division Two and at one point near the end of the season were still in a relegation battle. At Presentation Night 2013, it was stated that with the young players who had joined the club, good things would happen. These words proved true as the turnaround in just twelve months has been incredible.
In picking up their seventh league trophy, Maesteg Quins are the most successful junior club since the introduction of the National Leagues. This season also saw the 2nd XV claim their first title in seventeen years as they won the MGDRU First Division title and the First Division Play-Off final. This is the first time in the Quins history that the 1st and 2nd XVs have won titles in the same season.
Thanks were given to the ladies, namely stewardess Tina, physio Grace and organiser Claire for their sterling work once again.
The Quins sponsors, without whom there would be no Maesteg Harlequins RFC were thanked once again for their generosity and support. It is greatly appreciated by everyone involved at the club.
In such a successful season, there were many outstanding individual efforts. Division One beckons and the tougher challenges to come have to be met, but with further commitment and improvement, a good season is in the Quins’ grasp. Commitment is not a thing the Quins lack and two examples shone through in back-row partners Steven Williams, Sean Cleary and Geraint Williams. All three played through the pain barrier with a broken hand, broken thumb and cracked neck bone respectively.
There were many candidates for all the awards, but for this presentation night Elvis Costello could alter the lyrics of one of his hits slightly to ‘What a good year for the Ronans.’’
Chairman Robert Williams sold a dummy of Barry John proportions when he announced the ‘Clubman of the Year’ award. In the build-up he praised the work of club medical officer Richard Lewis and even read out a letter of thanks from the absent doctor, who was in Czech Republic in his role as Cerddin Brewery European exports representative. Adding his own praise, the chairman expressed how the award winner has been at the heart of everything good that has happened to Maesteg Harlequins since he arrived at the club and duly called upon club coach Dean Ronan to receive the award.
The ‘Most Promising Player of the Year’ impressed every time he took to the field. For his tough, uncompromising yet expert performances, flanker Steven Williams received the award.
‘Players’ Player of the Year’ was awarded to Jay Ronan and cousin, football goal keeping convert Craig Ronan picked up the ‘2nd XV Player of the Year’ after a season of consistently committed and high quality performances.
‘1st XV Player of the Year’ was a tough, tight call. Week on week the recipient is getting stronger, fitter and coupled with his ‘never-say-die’ attitude in which no cause is ever lost, he is able to perform in both the front and back-rows with equal aplomb. Consequently the award was presented to Jay Ronan.
One of the biggest turnarounds during the year and a most welcome one at that, was the exploits of club stalwart Andrew John. A year ago the entire club was stunned into silence as ill-health threatened our loyal, long-standing servant. Fast forward twelve months and among the audience sat Andrew.
Sadly there will be two departures from the club. Sion King has been a wonderful asset and performed excellently whether operating at scrum-half, outside-half or full-back. He has decided to venture on a year long sabbatical to Australia, but has promised the Quins will be his first port of call on his return. Prop Morgan Pugh joined the Quins in order to get a game. He impressed immediately and was soon taking the field in the first team. Instead of kicking his heels, Morgan is now a Division Two champion medal owner. A memento of his time with the Quins as he emigrates to New Zealand.
Both players were thanked for their vital contributions to Maesteg Quins rugby and presented with their club jerseys to take with them, wherever life may take them. Both were also assured there would a warm welcome for them at the club whenever they return ‘home’ to Wales.
Maesteg Harlequins RFC are always looking to improve their squad in both ability and numbers. If anyone wishes the challenge of playing First Division rugby on a purely amateur basis, then contact the club.
Additionally the Quins have registered last seasons Under 16s into the local district youth team leagues. There is a lot of interest and if there are any budding rugby players who wish to play or if there are any players who are not getting regular games with the club, you will be warmly welcomed to enjoy the South Parade experience.
1st XV Player of the Year – Jay Ronan
2nd XV Player of the Year – Craig Ronan
Most Promising Player of the Year – Steven Williams
Players Player of the Year - Jay Ronan
Clubman of the Year - Dean Ronan
|1||Kenfig Hill RFC||7||5||0||2||206||157||49||29||22||5||2||27|
|5||Maesteg Harlequins RFC||6||4||0||2||104||94||10||8||11||1||2||19|
|7||Builth Wells RFC||7||4||0||3||82||139||-57||8||17||1||0||17|
|12||Seven Sisters RFC||7||1||0||6||104||176||-72||17||27||1||1||6|
Celebrations of the 2012-2013 season were concluded as the annual awards were distributed to the worthy recipients at the clubhouse on Saturday 11th.
The curtain has closed on the 2012-2013 season. Congratulations to Builth Wells and Crymych on their respective achievements of title winners and promotion.
Much has happened in the last eight months.
The season started with a great honour. If there was any doubt of the regard in which Maesteg Harlequins RFC is held in Welsh rugby, it was confirmed when no less than seven players represented Glamorgan County RFC in a single match. In the 114 years of Quins rugby, the selection of one player to represent Glamorgan was a source of great pride. For half the Glamorgan team to consist of Maesteg Harlequins players, a feat never achieved by any other club, it is beyond everybody’s wildest dreams.
When the league programme started, the Quins seemed to be taking their return to Division Two like ducks to water. Their 100% consecutive league record stood at forty-two matches and remained in tact for the first four games and then, after an incredible forty-six consecutive league wins… well it had to happen sometime!
A far worse loss than that defeat against Felinfoel was the injury that brought an end not just to the playing days, but also the coaching role of Robbie Morris. And September hadn’t even ended!
Injuries, some long-term casualties, were a regular feature of the campaign. Another feature was the stop-start nature season. Blank Saturdays, international breaks and the weather all combined to make the most disjointed and inconsistent season people can remember, well ever.
A great win one week, accompanied by the momentum and feel-good-factor that goes with it, would be brought to an abrupt halt. The casing point being the great win at Broadacre in early January, was the only fixture for seven weeks! Meanwhile our near neighbours and friends Maesteg waited two and a half months for a home game! While nobody can do anything about the weather, currently the game is a mess and needs some serious, logical thinking.
Another factor was the bum deal the Quins were getting from some match officials. While referees cannot be continuously blamed for negative results, some undoubtedly were wayward in their decision making that went beyond just having a bad day. They put in some positively partial performances. Perversely, some of the worst performances came in the Quins’ biggest victories. Referees cannot allow personal views of rugby tradition to severely bias their thinking.
In the twenty or so games that were played this season, there were some superb singular efforts. Everyone played their part for the vast majority of the season. While the ‘more established’ players, if you can be more established in a team whose average age is touching 24, within the side gave their all at every occasion, it was the zest which youth brings that often caught the eye. Jay Ronan, Keiron Watkins, Nathan Smith, Rhys Roberts, Ryan George and Kyle Blackmore all proved invaluable additions to the team. With this season under their belt, things should improve even more next season. Even in his fleeting performances for the first XV, Liam Thomas showed plenty of guts and determination.
Yet the Quins truly are a team, a young team at that and there were some great collective efforts. Dunvant home and away. Taibach away. Seven Sisters home and of course the two matches against near neighbours Maesteg.
If the first at Llynfi Road wasn’t dramatic enough, with an almighty defensive effort allowing the Quins to take the honours against the Old Parish; then the match at South Parade had to be seen to be believed. Thirteen Quins men put a difference of twenty-four points between themselves and their more illustrious neighbours.
Despite both clubs sitting in first, second and third places for a large portion of the season, in the latter stages relegation was more of a threat to the two clubs than the glory of a title or promotion push. Although that situation was highly unlikely, for the two Llynfi valley clubs in the second division (west), it became a battle for pride, a two team league within a league with one holding the 135 year tradition of being the premier club in the upper Llynfi valley, while the other sought to bring this status quo to an end.
At the season’s end, the double over the Old Parish, was a big factor in ending Maesteg’s century and a third status of being the best club in the upper Llynfi valley. Some achievement indeed, as the Quins ended 2012-13 three points and two positions above Maesteg to end 135 years of tradition and it was something the black and ambers were desperate to avoid.
Some people, a very limited number outside the club, have decried the fifth place finish achieved by the Quins. The highest position they have ever reached in their 114 year history. Many ask “What happened on Saturday?” when news filters through of defeat after two invincible league years. Quite simply, this league is tough. The Quins are a young side and one victory in Division Two is as hard fought and more valuable than a hatful of wins in Divisions Three or Four.
Has 2012-13 been successful? You bet. It isn’t always about winning week in week out, it’s testing yourself to the nth degree of your ability. That’s what happened this season. It is also very reminiscent of two things.
Firstly the Quins’ first excursion into Division Six when they just escaped relegation with a hard fought, late season win over fellow strugglers Aberafan Green Stars. A season later the Quins won the league title with three games to go, adding the Silver Ball and President’s Cup for the first time to the trophy cabinet. Secondly, Carwyn James’ stint at Rovigo. Fans of the Rosso et Azzurri were disenchanted with the legendary former Lions and Llanelli coach failed to deliver the Italian championship at the first attempt. However, when the title was delivered to the Stadio Mario Battaglini in the following season with three games left to play, the Welsh wizard’s god-like status was restored.
This is not to say that positive things will automatically arrive at the Quins door in 2013-2014. A lot of hard work has to take place for that to happen, especially in a league where every team will capitalise on every single mistake you make, but with an extra season’s experience and a young side – anything can happen.
For the awards a whole host of people were thanked for their unstinting efforts during the season, as the club reached its highest position in its history.
The first award was Clubman of the Year. For the second season in succession it was presented to Dr. Richard Lewis for the expert care he provides the players. Everyone, including the opposition, is extremely grateful and appreciative of his presence.
Most Promising Player of the Year was a difficult decision to make as there were so many contenders. There were a whole host of young players who have made an impact including Nathan Smith, Keiron Watkins, Ryan George, Nick Flay, Craig Ronan and Liam Thomas. But the award went to Jay Ronan who has consistently performed well and been rewarded with selection for the Opsreys Under 20s this season.
The 2nd XV Player of the Year again had a number of candidates, namely Robert Jones, Craig Ronan, Rhodri Davies and Liam Thomas. Long serving three-quarter Leon had something to crow as he came out top of the pecking order.
There were few contenders for the Player’s Player of the Year and it was presented to the ever-committed Sean Cleary.
Finally, the Player of the Year was awarded to a player who has operated with equal effectiveness in all sections of the pack. As the season was drawing to a close, his ball carrying capabilities were becoming increasingly devastating and Taibach in particular cringed at the sight of him on the charge. For his consistently reliable performances Rhodri Roberts received the Player of the Year award.
Nevertheless the 2012-2013 season has now passed. If any player, of any standard wishes to play rugby and enjoy the South Parade experience, playing a good standard of rugby on a strictly amateur basis, Maesteg Harlequins awaits you from 2013-2014.
However, despite the achievements and celebrations, a shadow was cast over the Quins on the last Saturday of the season. It still hangs over the club and was discussed by the club officials and doctor at the start of proceedings. The Quins were rocked at the news of a severe illness striking down our long-standing, much respected and well-loved trainer Andrew John. A true friend and true gentleman of the club, indeed the sport, lies ill.
It is fair to say, given the sheer volume of good wishes and questions of concern from the worlds of rugby, rallying and revelry, a large swathe of people across south Wales and beyond, are anxious about his condition.
It should be known that despite suffering from a severe illness for quite some time, Andrew still turned up to treat the Quins players and despite the pain, he did so without a single word of complaint.
When Andrew’s condition became too adverse even for him to endure, his first concern in his own hour of desperate need was to alert the club of his unavailability to fulfil his ‘duties’. This is as upsetting, as it is unbelievable, as it is remarkable - but that’s Andrew.
If you who wear the coal black and blood red of the Quins, if you at times find the going tough, if you want an example of determination, toughness, courage and committment while staring adversity full in the face - just turn your heads and look; look at the quiet man with the medicine bag standing pitch-side. Remember - despite the problems he faced and pain he endured he was still there, standing alongside you. Remember what he has gone through and he will be your inspiration on how to come out fighting.
Quins men will know of Andrew’s quiet determination to treat them, regardless of his own personal suffering. Because of this, they will walk taller and the jersey has become all the more precious, because of his example of unbending commitment to the people who wear it.
Along with Andrew’s family, everyone at Maesteg Harlequins has, is and will continue to urge him on every step, stride and his eventual sprint back to health. We eagerly but patiently wait to warmly welcome the ‘Quiet Man’ back to the fold when he recovers and returns to us. Get well soon Andrew.
Brysiwch wella hen nghyfeill. Rydym yn edrych ymlaen at eich croesawu yn ôl yn fuan.