The junior presentation was held on Saturday 30th May 2009 to celebrate achievements at club and regional level. Former Welsh Internationals and current senior and under 20s coaches, Liza Burgess and Kylie Wilson, made the awards.
North Wales had a difficult season with teams unable to field sides to meet their league fixtures. Therefore the awards that were made took into consideration the total number of matches and festivals played, including cross border fixtures, and the efforts made by the coaches and volunteers to promote women's and girls' rugby. The winners of the North Wales under 15s and under 18s Clubs of the Year went to Colwyn Bay RFC.
The 2008-09 season saw the emergence of more under 15s teams and therefore the need to split into two leagues, East Wales and West Wales although the total number of league games played was quite poor over all. In the East winning 5 out of 5 league fixtures the winners of the East Wales under 15s League was Cardiff Quins.
In the west 31 out of 56 fixtures were played with new team Abercrave completing all their fixtures. However, winning 10 out of 10 league fixtures the winners of the West Wales under 15s League was Carmarthen Quins.
For the under 18s, one league ran across south Wales but with very few games played. However, winning three out of the four fixtures played the winners of the South Wales under 18s League was Newport.
Regional rugby is a vital stepping stone that further develops players' skills and hopefully inspires them to want to further their rugby career and play alongside those already selected for the Welsh Under 20s.
For the first time the regional teams played in the colours of their rugby regions, Dragons, Blues, Ospreys, Scarlets and Gogledd Cymru, and apart from one or two teething problems it has proved to be a successful step forward for Welsh Women's Rugby.
After last year's East Wales domination of the under 14s competition, the splitting of the regions resulted in the talent being spread and hence a much closer fought competition. It went right to the wire with the last game of the season between the Blues and the Scarlets being the decider. This match ended with a nil-nil draw so the winners were decided on points difference. The winners of the inaugural 5 region competition were Cardiff Blues.
This competition looked like being a walkover with the Ospreys being loaded with Welsh under 20s players but with former Welsh International and attached senior coach, Liza Burgess on board, the Dragons put up a real fight only losing to the eventual winners, the Ospreys.
RFUW Regional Tournament
Once again, the winners of our regional competition were invited to take part in the RFUW Regional competition at Lichfield. Both the Blues under 15s and Ospreys under 18s did exceptionally well with the Blues winning the Cup and the Ospreys winning the Plate. This bodes very well for the future of Welsh Women's Rugby.
REGIONAL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Regional players of the year were selected by the regional coaches at each age group:
Dragons Under 15s: Jade Harding
Jade has proved to be a valuable player to our Dragons under 15s showing great team work on and off the field. Jade is an all round player with excellent tackling ability, speed, good filed positioning and decision making. One to watch for the future.
Dragons Under 18s: Alexia Evans
Lex has really developed this year as both an inspirational player and natural leader. Her maturity, decision making and ability to read the game have made her a natural choice for this award. She has impressed the management and coaches with her determined attitude and mental toughness when playing. If she continues with this attitude and commitment she has the potential to be star of the future. Good luck and well done.
Blues Under 15s: Joanne Jones
In a fantastic season for the Cardiff Blues under 15s girls' this was a difficult decision to make amongst a number of outstanding candidates. However, this award goes to a player whose performances and commitment throughout the season marks her out as one to follow for the future. In her first appearance of the season she set herself a high standard of performance and every time she has set foot on the training pitch or playing field since, she has matched and driven that standard upward. Her commitment and willingness to improve is exemplified by her video self-analysis of her own early season performances and then training on those perceived weaknesses. As well as being a key decision maker and the vital link between forwards and backs she has, throughout the season scored 12 tries for the Blues. Congratulations to Joanne Jones.
Blues Under 18s: Carys Thomas
Carys shows great versatility, excellent skill levels and her dedication to the Blues is second to none. She has shown fantastic leadership qualities which the other girls respect and admire.
Ospreys Under 15s: Laura Workman
Laura showed from the first trail that there was something special about her. She is always keen to learn and develop, never backed down on the field, created space for others and always looked dangerous with ball in hand.
Ospreys Under 18s: Natalie Watkins
We have a lot of talented players in the squad, all with good skills and facets to their game so it's difficult to choose one player considering we've had so many girl's representing our country with the under 20s and Welsh Colleges. But Nat led from the front. She set the pace of our game every time!. She was aggressive in defence and at the breakdown; she provided good service for the backs. She gave us plenty of "go forward" and was an excellent communicator on the field. She was also very keen to learn. She developed throughout the season and is the sort of player that will continue to do so. Good luck in the future.
Scarlets Under 15s: Elin Burton
Elin is one of the youngest players in the Scarlets under 15s squad playing on the wing. She is a committed and enthusiastic player who takes pride in her game. She is a member of Cardigan rugby club but due to their lack of under 15s players she regularly plays for Carmarthen. Elin has not missed a training session and has given all her effort into training and playing which has resulted in a fantastic performance , therefore is well worthy of the player of the year award.
Scarlets Under 18s: Catherine Davies
Catherine has played for Carmarthen for the past two seasons and for the Scarlets this season in the 2nd row position. Catherine is a quiet and unassuming girl off the pitch, however once on the pitch she is a committed and dedicated player giving 100% each and every game. She is an excellent role model to the younger players at club and region. This is her last season at under 18s and she will be missed but we wish her well for her future rugby career.
Gogledd Cymru Under 15s: Eurgain Llwyd
Several players put their hands up this season for player of the year, showing commitment and dedication. However, Eurgain stood out above the rest. She attend all training sessions whatever the weather and never gave less than 100% effort. When challenged with a more technical skill she persisted with a smile on her face even when she found things difficult. The same attitude carried into the games and no matter how hard the opposition were she got stuck in and played to the best of her ability. She has shown a very mature attitude this season and with continued coaching will develop into a very good player and I wish her well for the future.
Gogledd Cymru Under 18s: Ellen Jones
Ellen (known by most of us as Mwsh) is from Corwen and initially travelled to Nant Conwy to play her rugby. She was an outstanding player for Nant girls over the years and was for a few years one of the major thorns in the side of Colwyn Bay. With the demise of the Nant Conwy team last year Mwsh joined Colwyn Bay U18 Mermaids. She added to the strengths of the squad and integrated well and easily with the girls, becoming quite a popular girl in the squad. She has been a regional player for a number of years and has a range of rugby skills that would complement any team. She played in the front row for both clubs and the regional squads but is also agile, fleet of foot and is able to kick the ball effortlessly. She has become the chief place kicker for Gogledd Cymru and the Mermaids.
She is a strong and committed player never shying away from a tackle or a rugby match. Her rugby skills and her ability to be a great team player willing to allow the interest of the team to be her paramount interest has made her the obvious nominee from the North Wales region
Recently she has been invited to trial for Wales U20s and she will be a valuable player to the squad if she is selected and all of the North Wales rugby community wishes her well.
CONTRIBUTION TO WOMEN'S RUGBY
This award was presented to Ann Tilakawardane from Colwyn Bay and team manager for Gogledd Cymru Under 18s. She has also taken on other roles such as being on the North Wales Council and the North Wales Council Development Sub-Committee. She works relentlessly to promote her own club, Colwyn Bay, and Gogledd Cymru regional rugby. Along with her husband , Louis, her work in North Wales is invaluable.