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 final act of Maesteg Harlequins’ season took place when they celebrated 2014-2015 during their annual presentation evening at the clubhouse.
For the 1st XV 2014-15 was a mixed bag. Despite an opening day reverse to start life in Division One, it was a good start to the season, which saw the Quins become one of only two teams to beat eventual champions Bonymaen, along with a number of other former Welsh rugby powerhouse clubs.
This was followed by a stuttering middle section of the season. As games became less frequent due to internationals and the weather, the Quins form also dipped.
Yet it all came good in the end when the games came thick and fast. Eighth was always a false position, as the season entered it’s final month. The Quins had several games in hand and at the finish, were one of the form sides in the league.
A fifth spot was a just reward and an excellent place to finish. Of course it could have been better. Some matches were winnable but fifth spot in Division One was an absolutely tremendous achievement as this is the highest league finish ever made by the Quins.
To think it wasn’t too long ago the South Paraders were the least successful of all the clubs in the upper Llynfi valley but now, head the list and all on a strictly amateur basis.
After the euphoria of last season, 2014-2015 was a disappointment for the 2nd XV. Second team rugby throughout Wales is in turmoil and at one time the Quins stood out as having a keen second XV, now they suffer like most other clubs from in-house as well as external problems. They rarely played and this meant people fell out of the habit of playing and training. However, there were the usual stalwarts, kings of consistency, who turned up week in, week out and those who habitually performed well whenever a match did take place.
Yet there is hope on the horizon. For the first time in their history the Quins have a Youth team. In their first year the Youth played some excellent rugby and at other times found the going difficult.
Eight of this year’s team will graduate to the seniors and the coaches are extremely excited to work with every single one of these young stars, when they enter senior ranks in the very near future.
Although a celebration of the past eight months, the evening was an opportunity to say ‘goodbye’ to a number of people.
Standing down after seventeen seasons, 350 games, 242 points and one season as club captain, one club centre Andrew Leighton. has decided to call time on his playing days.
After 13 seasons, the last five as captain, Gareth Lewis has decided to stop playing having played 314 games and scored a club recored 2242 points. Gareth leads by example being the first to training and last to leave, whatever the time, whatever the weather. Due to his incredible commitment, Lewis is an ideal addition to the coaching team.
As captain he lifted three league trophies out of the four he won with the club, the Glamorgan County Silver Ball and President’s Cup. In his 132 matches as skipper, the Quins have won 100, drawn 2 and lost 30. If you’re into statistics, that’s a 76% success rate. Yet perhaps his most well remembered feat was his last second drop-goal to take the Quins to a Millennium Stadium final.
The final farewell was to influential front row forward and head coach Dean Ronan.
There are not many clubs who would hand the coaching reigns to a twenty-two year old. Indeed, many in the locality scoffed when Ronan was appointed coach in 2010-2011. The scoffing soon stopped when under Ronan’s reign, the Quins won three league titles, a remarkable Glamorgan County Silver Ball and President’s Cup. For two consecutive league seasons the Quins were unbeaten, thus creating a Welsh league record of 45 consecutive league victories, stretching just over two years.
Ronan’s five years tenure saw the club rise from Division Four to fifth in Division One.
While it is extremely sad for the Quins, to see Dean depart after playing 125 games and scoring 37 tries in the process, the club is delighted to have played a part in Ronan’s senior coaching career as he takes on coaching duties at Principality Premier and Cup holders Bridgend.
Ronan had a tough job at the Quins and came through with flying colours. Maesteg Harlequins RFC wish Dean every possible success in everything he does in the future… even if it initially starts with Bridgend! But with such a great start to his career, who knows where it will end?
The 1st XV captain for the 2015-2016 season will be powerhouse flanker Steven Williams. Captain for the 2nd XV for a second year will be Leon Crow.
The awards were distributed as follows:
The Most Improved Player for the youth team was Josh Gillett, who played rugby league and only turned to union this season.
The Youth Players’ Player of the Year was awarded to Otis Evans. The rough tough, take no messin’ flanker has turned out for the 1st XV on the wing and looked at home with his fearless performances.
Youth Player of the Year was awarded to a player who has great potential and made a number of first team appearances. For a front row forward in such a hard, competitive league, Jordan Short did exceptionally well.
Youth XV Player of the Year: Jordan Short
Youth Player’s Player of the Year: Otis Evans
Youth Most Improved Player of the Year: Josh Gillet
Due to an aging infrastructure, water created a lot of damage to the club. For months, Keith Hood worked tirelessly to repair the damage and make the club water tight and presentable. For his tireless efforts, Hood was awarded Clubman of the Year.
Clubman of the Year: Keith Hood
Having joined the Quins this year, Tom Bluck made an instant impact with his elusive pace and as a result was awarded the Most Promising Player of the Year.
Most Promising Player of the Year: Tom Bluck
When Bryn disbanded, Mark Fitzpatrick joined the Quins and it has proven to be a profitable move for the Quins. Fitzpatrick has proven to be a competitive and versatile player. For his great performances he was awarded the 2nd XV Player of the Year accolade.
2nd XV Player of the Year: Mike Fitzpatrick
Every single player has upped their game and performed well during the season, but there were some who played magnificently every time they put a shirt on. They were all candidates for the Conrad Hawes Cup.
In defence but mainly attack, Rhodri Bwye has stood out with a number of barnstorming displays. His skill at the base of the scrum has also been invaluable when the set-piece was under pressure. For his excellence in these areas Rhodri Bwye was voted Players’ Player of the Year.
Players’ Player of the Year: Rhodri Bwye
Injuries and work have greatly curtailed his appearances this season. However, every time he took to the field his fitness and skill put him head and shoulders above everyone else on the park. The selection of Lewis Tutt for Player of the Year was a popular choice among players and members alike.
1st Xv Player of the Year: Lewis Tutt
Lee Ronan, Gareth Lewis, along with former Welsh international and Bridgend coach Chris Stephens will be at the coaching helm next season. Anyone wishing to test themselves in Division One on a strictly amateur basis and enjoy the Maesteg Quins experience, just contact the club and turn up for summer training.
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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.