TV channel Al Jazeera covers Pontypool RFC campaign

First published in Sport

PONTYPOOL RFC reached global heights last week when Middle East broadcaster Al Jazeera picked up on its campaign to resurrect the much marginalised club game in Wales.

Corporate director Ben Jeffreys has been leading the charge since penning an open letter to the WRU about its failings with regard to historic clubs like Pooler, Ebbw Vale and Newport.

As a result former WRU chief executive David Moffett attended a recent game, as part of a bid to win election to the WRU board, while current WRU chief executive Roger Lewis is set to take his place at Pontypool Park himself soon.

And last week, Al Jazeera – more typically known for covering wars and Arabic affairs – was in Pontypool to speak with those at the heart of the club, including the legendary Graham Price.

Journalist Lee Wellings, previously the sports editor for Sky News, said the situation had caught his eye saying the game in Wales had reached a “crossroads”.

“It is obvious that the national team is flourishing, but at the same time once great clubs like Pontypool are going to rack and ruin,” he said.

“We felt the point had been made very eloquently by Ben and that made Pontypool an important case study.

“Add in Graham Price talking about the WRU throwing 100 years of history out the window and you have a very powerful story. Very quickly it became a Pontypool-centric piece. We just hope we did the club, town, and the people justice.”

The Al Jazeera story can be seen here aljazeera.com/news/europe/2014/01/battle-keep-welsh-rugby-clubs-alive-201413115129317175.html

The Free Press reported last week how WRU boss Roger Lewis was said to have accepted an invitation from Pontypool RFC to attend one of its games as part of the campaign.

Mr Jeffreys issued an open letter to Mr Lewis and SWALEC chief Alistair Phillips-Davies which addressed feelings that the once legendary club environment had been “abandoned”.

He later confirmed on Twitter that the offer had been accepted.

“Mr Lewis has accepted and we are grateful for that,” he wrote.

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