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Arwel’s back in love with rugby

Aberdare v Morriston

Morriston triumphed in the Division 2 Cup Final

By his own admission, Arwel Thomas had got a bit fed up with rugby.

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But having returned to the game as a coach at Morriston RFC, the former Wales fly-half is now loving being back involved.

He has assisted head coach Paul Thomas as the north Swansea club have enjoyed a highly successful season. They have gained promotion to Division One West Central and also won both the WRU Division Two Cup and the Glamorgan County Silver Ball.

The 23-times capped ex-Neath and Swansea playmaker linked up with the club in 2019.

“I hadn’t done anything for a while. I was three or four years out of it all,” he said. “Then I got approached by Morriston. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure originally. I was thinking ‘Shall I, shan’t I?’ because it’s emotional.

“I was a bit fed up with rugby, how it was going and how it was coached. The game wasn’t really that exciting. It was crash bang wallop. I suppose I felt a bit bitter and twisted and a bit hard done by.

“But I watched a couple of games at Morriston and I was really impressed. I have just really enjoyed it here. It’s been good. The boys are keen. You watch the games and it’s proper edge of the seat stuff. We tend to have a go. We are a decent side.

“Paul is in charge and drives the patterns that we play. He is really organised. I have come in and just helped out a little bit. I just tweak the backs a bit and try and make the boys feel excited about having a go. I am just here enjoying myself.”

The 48-year-old is clearly very invested in the whole project, as Paul Thomas confirms.

“Before the Division Two cup final against Aberdare at the stadium, he said: ‘I’m more nervous now than I ever was playing for Wales’.”

Giving his take on that day out at the Principality, Arwel said: “It was a big showpiece event and I didn’t want it to go wrong. It was really nerve-wracking. As it happened, we played our best game.”

Morriston, who beat Pontarddulais in the Silver Ball final, lost just the four league games to finish second in Division Two West Central, behind title-winning Builth Wells.

Paul Thomas said: “If you had said to me at the start of the season that we would win the Division Two Cup, the Silver Ball and get promotion to the highest league the club has ever been before, I would have snapped both your hands off.”

They will now compete in Division 1 West Central, alongside the likes of Glynneath, Skewen, Nantyffyllon, Bridgend Athletic, Tondu, Kenfig Hill, Waunarlwydd and near neighbours Birchgrove.

“I am a very ambitious chap and I want to win that league,” said Paul Thomas. “If you don’t aim for the stars, you will never get there. The target has to be promotion to the Championship. We have had a bit of success and we want to push as hard and as far as we can go.

“We have got a great squad, with massive strength in depth. They are all local Morriston lads and they fight for each other to the bitter end. It’s a nice vibrant place and everyone is riding the wave.”

Giving his thoughts on moving up to Division One, Arwel said: “It will be another test for us and we are going to give it our best shot. The target will be let’s see if we can jump up again. I know we will be competitive. People will be keeping an eye on us because we have got a good bunch of boys.

“We have got everything here. We have got a really nice clubhouse, the pitch is top notch, we have got a gym where the boys can train, the committee are 100 per cent behind the team.”

He added: “When I was playing, people were keen to say something like ‘Unlucky, you were this, you were that’.

“Now, with coaching Morriston, we have gone to places like Cilfynydd, Caerphilly, Builth Wells, Ystradgynlais.

“About four or five times, random people have come up to me and said ‘The team is playing a really nice brand of rugby, you have got a really good side there’.

“Its just nice and I want the boys to understand that.
“It’s all down to the players and Paul’s preparation. It’s just nice to be part of it. I really am grateful.”

As for how coaching compares to playing, Arwel says: “You are still involved. I run about, have a game of touch with the boys, I go kicking. I try and get involved as much as I can in training. It’s nice.

“Playing rugby hurts. What they go through week-in, week-out, they really put their bodies on the line. Everyone is massive and there’s a lot of contact area.

“I really enjoy the coaching side. It’s a good out from playing. It’s kept me occupied and got me back involved and we’ve had success, which makes it much easier. It’s been a great effort this season.”

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