01 May 2018 / Club News


’’How good is this Porthcawl v Pembroke game? Wow. Some serious standard’’.

Those were the words Tweeted by former Wales hooker Richard Hibbard as he, along with the whole stadium attendance and TV audiences, sat watching and marvelling at one of the most remarkable Rugby matches one could wish to watch. Both teams came to the home of Welsh Rugby, in search of a League and Cup double and they proceeded to produce not just a feast of Rugby, played in a fashion reminiscent of the very best of matches anywhere, anytime but they spiced it all with a plethora of elements that kept the crowd and TV viewers on the edge of their seats throughout, from the first minute to, literally, the last.

The travelling hordes from Porthcawl numbered many hundreds at the Rugby Club as the coaches that would carry them to Cardiff lined up and it was a great to see so many people who had travelled from far and wide to get ‘home’ for the experience of seeing the Seaweeds make the final of a major WRU competition for the very first time. Too many old and familiar faces to name of course, however some deserve a mention for their efforts. Mike Hnyda arrived from Adelaide to watch son Richard skipper the team, Steve Power had travelled from Toronto, Canada, Mark ‘Chuckles’ Baldwin had scooted down the M5 and M4 from Solihull, Mark Griffiths had made it from London; there were obviously others from far afield too, apologies if you’re not mentioned but you were there, that’s all that matters. Not to mention countless others from eras past, players mostly, who themselves had never had the opportunity to perform on Wales greatest stage, yet wanted give their voice to the cause in no uncertain terms and to share in a unique day.

Then there were those other dozens, perhaps hundreds, who went by car, train and other means because they just had to be there. And what an experience they had, as the match hit the heights in so many ways. The skill set and level was of the highest order with the vaunted Porthcawl backline blitzing the more than able opposition early on, in a way that one would have thought unthinkable in the minds of even the most confident of Porthcawl faithful.

Then having gone so far in front, the dreaded comeback by a wounded animal as Pembroke made it clear they were there to be taken seriously and proceeded to turn the match on its head, to lead going into the final ten minutes, with some mighty good play of their own. Would Porthcawl once again rise to the challenge, just as they had in the semi-final against Abercwmboi and produce a killer blow right at the death to take the spoils, the ultimate prize and go down in history, a feat to treasure?

Well, we all have the answer now as Coach Rhys James and skipper Richard Hnyda led their troops, aided by a band of committed people in achieving a result to reward all the hard work that goes into making a successful Club. It all starts with the kids and Porthcawl’s junior section produced many of those players that starred in the match on Sunday. How fitting to see young men who’d come up through the Porthcawl Youth XV in recent times, striding out on the big stage and producing a performance that has been admired throughout Wales and beyond.

Social media and more traditional forms of communication has been awash with fantastic congratulatory comments from Rugby people everywhere about how the two teams form the small Welsh towns of Porthcawl and Pembroke conspired to serve up a feast of superb Rugby, both teams giving it all they had and the West Walians deserve a huge pat on the back for making a real match of the occasion, since winning is one thing but winning when you’ve had to summon up everything you have to overcome opponents as worthy as yourselves, takes incredible determination not to fail.

One thing that stood out above all else in this final, was the hugely impressive level of skill, as the players threw it all into playing open, expansive Rugby of the highest order. Indeed you might well have thought that two teams of the most able professionals were playing each other; many observers have taken to voicing the opinion that the standard of the match was the best they’d seen for many a year, including the offerings served up by many of those professionals. This isn’t a case of being carried away here on any count. All 46 players who took the field on Sunday earned the right to be loudly applauded as they showed just how good the community game can be when played for the love of the game, rather than money and in a way which befits the game and encourages future generations to join in and enjoy the thrill of what Rugby can be like. One Twitter used even suggested that the WRU should cancel Judgement Day and get Porthcawl and Pembroke to play each other every year, for the sake of the Rugby-loving public’s entertainment! Now, that might just be getting carried away.
For Porthcawl who have done the game of Rugby proud in the Borough of Bridgend with this achievement, it’s half of a job well done, as they look to play out the five remaining matches of the League season, with a ‘double’ now a distinct possibility. The key will be to very quickly come down from the achievement of winning the WRU Bowl to face the reality of needing to win the remaining matches, and Coach James will be fully focussed on this; he certainly deserves to make it, after four hard years of moulding his side into one that is respected for the quality of Rugby they play.

So, it’s a season to remember for the Seaweeds and to see the smile on the face of Wales and Lions legend Clive Williams at the end of the match, was something to behold. For these players and their families and friends, this result will long serve as a reminder of the day that the small seaside town travelled to the big city and brought home the bacon.

Paul Fielding

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