Ystradgynlais celebrate winning Division 5 South West.
Ystradgynlais have secured the SWALEC Division 5 South West trophy in what has been a thrilling culmination to the season in the division.
The Blues sealed their win in a nail-biting 12-18 away win against league runners up Birchgrove with the winner of that match later being crowned champions. Ystradgynlais then extended their winning run with a 42-5 away win at Crynant.
Swansea Valley side Ystradgynlais were led to their league glory after the welcome return of former Ystradgynlais, Scarlets and Wales lock Vernon Cooper as Head Coach. Cooper retired from playing with the Scarlets in 2011 after featuring 369 times in a glittering club career.
The Blues, who have won their first league title since 1995, carried off the SWALEC Division 5 South West title by five points, winning all but two of the league games that they've played this season.
It's also been a successful season for the youth side who have also won their league - the first time in the history of the club for both the youth and senior teams to have clinched their respective league titles. With 95% of the first team squad having come through the youth system at Ystradgynlais RFC, the Head Coach thinks the future's looking bright.
Cooper, who won three caps for Wales, said: "The whole squad has been outstanding this season. The highlights for me have been the way we have dug in and won tough away games that we wouldn't have won in the past."
He added: "We've got plenty of confidence looking towards next season and it is key for us that we keep hold of the quality players coming through from our youth team. If we do that and build on our success then hopefully the future is bright."
Ystradgynlais Club Captain Emyr Lawrence, said: "It means the world for us to win the league. The boys have put the effort in all season and it has paid dividends for us. Vernon Cooper has made a big difference this season plus the effort and commitment of the players has changed. The whole squad has been outstanding."
WRU Board Member Geraint Edwards, added: "Congratulations to Ystradgynlais RFC - it's great that they have won their division. It's the first league title they've won in a number of years, which is fantastic for the rugby club and for Ystradgynlais itself."
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
A look ahead to Judgement Day and back at youth finals day in the Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We hear from Andrew Coombs, Jake Ball, James Davies, Dan Lydiate and Josh Navidi. We also speak to Wattstown, Ystradgynlais, Rhydfelin, Pontypool United, Penallta and Pontypridd youth coaches at finals day at the Millennium Stadium.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
This week on the Principality Premiership Podcast, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie talks to Carmarthen Quins head coach Louie Tonkin who is aiming to close the gap on leading duo, Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale, with victory against Bridgend tomorrow.
We hear from JPR Williams, Tommy David and all six clubs in SWALEC Finals Day, as well as the first woman to referee a game at the Millennium Stadium, in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. JPR and David reminisce over the 1979 final, while we hear from Pontypridd, Bridgend, Ystrad Rhondda, Ystradgynlais, Cambrian Welfare and Newcastle Emlyn. Kath Pritchard became the forst Welsh woman to referee a game at the Millennium Stadium - we speak to her and WRU community referee development officer Paul Adams.
Developing the game in Wales and creating a stable and progressive environment for players of the future
Taking the grass roots game out across the length and breadth of the nation, the SWALEC Leagues are the focus of the community rugby in Wales
SSE SWALEC Cup
The SSE SWALEC Cup, Plate and Bowl continue the legacy of the WRU Challenge Cup, culminating in a shot at glory at the Millennium Stadium
Women's Community Rugby embraces both the regional and community club game from Girls' Leagues through to the Women's Premier Division