PONTYPOOL RFC has appointed Ben Parry as its captain for the new season, and he wasted no time leading the side to victory in their first friendly of the new season on the weekend.
Parry - unveiled by the club during a supporters' evening attended my more than 100 fans at the Parkway Hotel in Cwmbran on Wednesday [August 6] - assumes the role of captain having joined Pooler in 2012.
Rugby chiefs said the 26-year-old had demonstrated “tremendous commitment" and "leadership”, having captained the squad on numerous occasions last season.
Parry enters his new role following two successful seasons of captaincy from Luke Dyckhoff, who played a significant role in Pooler achieving a fourth place finish in the Swalec Championship last season.
Parry said: “I would like to thank Pontypool RFC for this opportunity.
“I am a proud Pontypool man and this club means so much to me.
“To captain Pontypool RFC is a real honour and I am really looking forward to the new season."
Pontypool RFC director of rugby, Alun Carter, said: “I am delighted for Ben. This means a lot to him and he will carry the responsibility of being captain with great pride and honour, both on and off the field.
Dyckhoff said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to captain Pontypool RFC for the past two years and it is something that will be in my heart forever.
“Thank you to all that have supported the team and me during my time as captain. I must also extend a special thanks to my teammates who made it such an
unforgettable and enjoyable experience.”
Carter added: “Everybody at the club is grateful for what Luke has achieved during his time as captain."
Under the leadership of their new captain Pooler travelled to Caedelyn Park to face Rhiwbina for the first time and came away with a hard-fought victory in a very entertaining friendly on the weekend, writes Ray Ruddick.
The Squirrels won the Division Two East tile last season and were runners-up in the SWALEC Plate. They gave Pooler, who were trying out a few newcomers, a good test in the first game of the new season.
The visitors struck first with an early try by centre Ashley Norton, converted by full back Clayton Gullis. However, back came the home side with three quick tries and a conversion to go into a 17-7 lead. Pontypool narrowed the deficit with an unconverted try through prop Matthew Prosser to make the score after the first period of 20 minutes 17-12 to Rhiwbina.
The second period was a close affair with Pooler scoring a further two tries through left wing Rhodri Usher and flanker, the returning Rob Nash - the second of which was converted by Gullis. The Squirrels hit back with their fourth try of the afternoon and the score at half time was Rhiwbina 22, Pontypool 24.
The third 20 minutes saw Pooler stretch their lead through tries by right wing Chris Laing with a brace and centre Marc Thorley. Outside half Sam Mills converted Laing’s second touchdown. Despite the best efforts of both sides, there was no scoring in the fourth and final period so the final score read Rhiwbina 22 Pontyppol 41.
Credit must be given to both sides for producing a good advert for club rugby in Wales. Rhiwbina played some good rugby and turned Pooler over several times. For Pontypool, they will have to address conceding the turnovers and their discipline as No 8 Luke Dyckhoff and centre Joe Blackmore were each shown a yellow card. However, more worrying perhaps, are the injuries to key players Ben Sparks and Aaron Quick.
Pontypool’s next pre-season friendly is on Wednesday 13 August when Pill Harriers visit Pontypool Park, kick-off 7.15pm. Then on Saturday 16 August, Pooler make the short journey to the Memorial Ground to take on local rivals Pontypool United, kick-off 2.30pm.
Pontypool starting XV: Clayton Gullis, Chris Laing, Ashley Norton, Joe Blackmore, Rhodri Usher, Sam Mills, Aaron Quick, Matthew Prosser, Ben Parry (captain), Dan Walker, Ryan Thomas, Derryn Jones, Ben Sparks, Tom Organ and Luke Dyckhoff.
Also played: Marc Thorley, James Hall, Nathan Brooks, Garin Harris, Dan Goode, Elliott Ferriman), Rob Nash, Jamie Tibbs, Dai Davies and Luke Sims.
Referee: Sean Brickell (Abertillery)