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Army Masters Training Camp Wales

Army Masters Training Camp
6 – 10 March 2013

The 2013 training camp kicked off with a busy couple of sessions Wednesday and Thursday at 29 Regiment RLC South Cerney organised by Forwards Coach Mick Davies. Once this was completed on Thursday afternoon the Squad moved to the Vale Hotel Resort on the outskirts of Cardiff. The excellent facilities which are used by not only the Cardiff Blues and Cardiff FC but also the Welsh Rugby Union Squad prior to their international games offered a great opportunity to bond and train hard as a Squad.

On the Friday morning the whole Masters Squad under the direction of Forwards Coach Mick Davies moved to the “Healing the Wounds” charity house at Rest Bay in Porthcawl. The Welsh based Charity, was established in 2010 to support of individuals who are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues with the majority of these people being ex forces living in Wales, but they have broadened their focus recently to include not only these personnel but also their families as well ex-serviceman and families from all over the UK.

After a briefing on the organisations work and aims for the future the Squad got to work on reinventing a mobile display trailer that the Charity intend to use to raise awareness of the good work they carry out. It was the REME to the fore working on the trailer with the remainder getting to work on stripping the old wood from the frame. Some of the Squad will return in the near future to finish the work started. After a quick lunch the Squad returned to the Vale Hotel to get in a final training session on the artificial pitch. This was followed by a Squad meal and an early night in preparation for a game on the Saturday at Pyle Rugby

Army Masters Vs Welsh Select
Saturday 9 March 2013
Pyle Rugby Club

Our opposition on a dry if slightly cold afternoon was a Welsh Select side gathered together by Mick Davies from various local clubs and sprinkled with a few military guest players.

The Masters get going right from the kick off and put together some good phases, a strong scrum by the Welsh puts pressure on the Masters pack and it was an area of strong competition throughout the game. The Welsh move the ball through a few sets of hands and with their first real attack score a try in the corner for a 5-0 lead. The Masters now know they are in a game and at a Welsh scrum, Jim Newton playing at scrum half puts great pressure on his opposite number and is able hack up field, the good chase and pressure forces a penalty to the Masters who opt for a line out five metres out.
Jimmy Newton looks to get the Masters backline going
Jimmy Newton looks to get the Masters backline going

A good take by Raks Rakabu and a good drive by the Masters allow Gareth Williamson playing at eight to go over for the first score by the Masters, so 5-5 with conversion missed. The Welsh put pressure on the kick off with the ball not secured by the forwards, who are then penalised by the referee and the Welsh get a lead 8-5 with the ensuring kick. More good work from the busy Newton leads to another lineout 5 metres out and a training pitch practised move at the lineout allows Gareth Williamson to go over for his second try and a score of 8-10 to the Masters.

The Welsh side try to hit back but a loose pass in their back-line is intercepted by Epi Qolikibua who goes over for try under the posts and this time the kick is good to give the Masters a 8-17 lead. The Welsh ring the changes utilising their large bench and bring in fresh legs, this pays off straight away as the Masters fail to secure a kick into their own 22 and the Welsh get an easy score; which is quickly followed up by another try for them to take the lead 20-17.

Bruno Green on the Charge
Bruno Green on the Charge
Half time and the coaches ring the changes, Jim Newton is replaced by Bongo Davies at scrum half with Garry Windle replacing Ben Birkbeck in the hooker berth; also Calvin Venn replaces Glynn Jones at fly half. Strong words spoken at half time by the coaching staff seem to fall on deaf ears as the Welsh score an easy try virtually right from the restart. The Masters now wake up and have long periods in the Welsh half, but despite many chances to get some scores fail to turn this possession and territory into points. The Welsh break from deep and score a breakaway try to take a 30-17 lead.

Frustration leads to 10 minutes in the sin bin for Bongo Davies who is quickly followed there by Bruno Green.

The Masters now play some of their best Rugby with great carries from the likes of Garry Windle and Masters Skipper Neil Griffiths, but stout defence from the Welsh keeps the Masters at bay and late try is small consolation for all the ball that was wasted. Final Score 30-24 to the Welsh, much credit to Mick Davies for providing a tough Welsh side that tackled hard and soaked up the pressure and took its chances when offered. He achieved his aim to test the Squad and leave them with no illusion on the tasks that lay ahead.

Calvin Venn defending the line
Calvin Venn defending the line

They now have a few days to lick their wounds before facing the Richmond Heavies at the Richmond Athletic Ground on the evening of Friday 15 March. The Masters retired to the Club house to enjoy the hospitality offered by Pyle Rugby Club, with some presentations being made in the bar to Pyle and with the Man of the Match being awarded to Gareth Williamson for his outstanding individual performance. Monies raised at the social will go to the Healing the Wounds Charity and much credit should go to Mick Davies and Team Manager Dave Boocock for all the work they put in organising the training camp and the fixture.

Head Coach SSgt Tiny Baker commented after the Match:

‘All I can say is that we were unable to capitalise on our possession advantage by not working the phases and failed to keep any real structure, the positives would be that we highlighted our weak areas and will work on them against Richmond and onwards towards the Inter Services.’

Report by WO 2 Jim Evans.

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