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Clubs step out on 2023-24 ‘Road to Principality’

Clubs step out on 2023-24 ‘Road to Principality’

Cardiff's Dan Fish holds aloft the WRU Premiership Cup after helping his side to beat Newport in the 2023 final

Almost 250 Welsh rugby clubs will take the first step on the ‘Road to Principality’ when they kick-off this season’s seven WRU Cup competitions that will end in glory for a select few at the home of Welsh rugby.

Last season Cardiff pipped Newport in the Premiership Cup final, Pontypool scooped the Championship Cup and Newbridge were the winners of the Division 1 title. The Division 2 Cup winners were Morriston, who held off Aberdare, while Abertillery BG triumphed in the Division 3 final, Bryncethin took the Division 4 crown and Crumlin won the Division 5 Cup.

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“The extension of the cup competitions has proved a big hit with the clubs and there were great scenes, and crowds, and Principality Stadium for the two days of finals last season,” said WRU Community Rugby manager, Geraint John.

“We’ve reacted to the feedback from the clubs by changing the format this season. The pool system we used last season has now been replaced by a straight knock-out format, adding to the excitement.

“Earning the chance to play at Principality Stadium has proved to be a huge catalyst for clubs the length and breadth of Wales. This weekend will be the first step for the 14 clubs who will eventually make it all the way to the Welsh capital.”

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September

Aberavon v Pontypool
Bridgend v RGC
Cardiff v Newport
Neath v Ebbw Vale
Pontypridd v Merthyr
Byes: Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery, Swansea

Cardiff captain Morgan Allen is surrounded by Newport defenders in the 2023 Premiership Cup final

The air will be thick with revenge at the Arms Park when Ty Morris takes his Newport side to the home of their greatest rivals for the first round of the WRU Premiership Cup.

Cardiff got the better of the Black & Ambers in two key games in the Welsh capital at the end of last season, beating them in the Premiership Cup final at Principality Stadium and then overcoming them at the Arms Park in the semi-final of the Indigo Premiership play-offs.

It took an extraordinary corner try from Joe Goodchild to get Cardiff over the line in the cup final, and take the title away from Newport, and now the mission for Morris’ men is do the same to their rivals when they open the defence of their crown.

“This game has come a bit earlier than last year. We’re more used to playing cup games in January,” admitted Morris.

“It’s just as well we had four pre-season friendlies to get us up to speed for the start of the season. We knew we had to be battle hardened for the first game against Pontypool and then we had a week off.

“We’ve made a good start with two bonus point wins in the league, but the cup is different. We were bitterly disappointed to lose in the final last season because it had taken a huge amount of effort to get back there.”

The 38-27 home win over Pontypool was followed by another bonus point triumph at RGC last weekend when Newport came from behind to win 41-25. It means they will head to Cardiff in good shape.

“The game in north Wales was a lot tighter than the scoreline suggests. We had two breakaway tries late in the second half and there were plenty of lessons for us to learn,” added Morris.

Cardiff haven’t had the greatest of starts to the Indigo Premiership season, drawing their opening game at Pointypridd, beating RGC and then losing at home to Ebbw Vale last weekend. They will have Wales U20 back row star Mackenzie Martin in their side this weekend and will have Tom Habberfield back at scrum half.

“We are excited by the challenge this weekend after a flat performance against a smart Ebbw Vale side last Saturday. But there couldn’t be a better game to come back to,” said Cardiff RFC academy manager, Gruff Rees.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Newport and in the last few seasons the games have been nip and tuck. They have some lovely footballers in their squad, but we want to replicate the great day we had next door last season.”

Last year saw Pontypool go all the way to Principality Stadium to beat Ystrad Rhondda in the WRU Championship final. They went on to complete the double by taking the league title as well and finished the season unbeaten.

They open their cup account in the top tier this weekend with a quickfire return to the Talbot Athletic Ground to face an Aberavon team they pipped at the post last week, 12-10. Once again, the boot of Matthew Jarvis proved critical as he kicked all his side’s points.

“It was great for us to get the win. Aberavon are a top-four team and to come away from home and back ourselves after a great win the previous week was fantastic,” said Pooler’s young back row man Ben Moa.
“It grows belief in the group and the confidence has gone up massively. Now we’ve got to go back there and back it up with another win.”

Ebbw Vale head to The Gnoll to take on newly promoted Neath. Jason Strange’s men will travel full of confidence after taking all the points in a spectacular 36-21 win over Cardiff at the Arms Park last weekend.

There is a local derby at Sardis Road, where Pontypridd entertain Merthyr, while Bridgend host RGC in the other first round fixture.

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September 

Beddau v Cardiff Met
Cross Keys v Bargoed
Crymych v Narberth
Llangennech v Ystalyfera
Maesteg Quins v Newcastle Emlyn
St Peter’s v Bedwas
Trebanos v Tata Steel
Treorchy v Rumney

Byes: Ammanford, Bonymaen, Brecon, Dunvant,
Glamorgan Wanderers, Newbridge, Penallta, Ystrad Rhondda

Pontypool lift the Championship Cup

Last season’s WRU Championship runners-up Ystrad Rhondda are joined by Division 1 Cup winners Newbridge in having a bye in the first round of the Championship Cup. Crymych will host Narberth in an all-Pembrokeshire battle, while Newcastle Emlyn will return to Maesteg Quins for a second successive weekend having triumphed by a point in the league last weekend. 

Division 1 Cup runners up Nant Conwy kick-off their campaign at Bala, while last season’s Division 2 winners Morriston will host Felinfoel. Division 2 runner’s up Aberdare head to Rhydyfelin.  

In the Division 2 tournament, last season’s Division 3 winners Abertillery BG, who were also promoted to Division 2 East, will head to Treharris to try to launch another successful cup run. The Division 5 Cup winners Crumlin will host New Panteg in the Division 4 tournament. 

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September 

Abercwmboi v Rhiwbina
Abercynon v St Joseph’s
Abergavenny v Brynmawr
Aberystwyth v Burry Port
Bala v Nant Conwy
Bedlinog v Ynysybwl
Birchgrove v Kidwelly
Builth Wells v Waunarlwydd
Cambrian Welfare v Barry
Glynneath v Hendy
Gorseinon v Gowerton
Llanelli Wanderers v Kenfig Hill
Llangefni v Dolgellau
Morriston v Felinfoel
Mountain Ash v Blaenavon
Nelson v Monmouth
Penclawdd v Brynamman
Pontarddulais v Nantyffyllon
Pontypool United v Porth Quins
Pwllheli v Llandudno
Rhydyfelin v Aberdare
Risca v Dowlais
Ruthin v Wrexham
Talywain v Ynysddu
Tondu v Bridgend Athletic
Whitland v Ystradgynlais

Byes: Bethesda, Caernarfon, COBRA, Mold, Senghenydd, Skewen 

Nant Conwy on the charge in the 2023 Division 1 Cup final against Newbridge

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September 

Aberavon Green Stars v Carmarthen Athletic
Caerleon v Caldicot
Cowbridge v Caerphilly
Fishguard v Lampeter Town
Garndiffaith v Blackwood
Loughor v Mumbles
Nantgaredig v Aberavon Quins
Penarth v Croesyceiliog
Pencoed v Swansea Uplands
Pentyrch v Cwmbran
Pill Harriers v Oakdale
Porthcawl v Milford Haven
Resolven v Pontyberem
Treharris v Abertillery BG

Byes: Amman United, Bridgend Sports, Cilfynydd, Gilfach Goch, Heol Y Cyw,
Llanharan, Llanishen, Llantrisant, Llantwit Fardre, Maesteg Celtic, Newport HSOB,
Pyle, St Clears, Taffs Well, Tenby United, Tycroes, Usk, Vardre

Morrston and Aberdare take the field for the 2023 Division 2 Cup final-

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September 

Aberaeron v Laugharne
Abercarn v Blaina
Abergele v Colwyn Bay
Abertysswg v RTB Ebbw Vale
Baglan v Llangadog
Bangor v Newtown
Betws v St Davids
Bynea v Llandybie
Cardigan v Bryncoch
Cefn Cribwr v Abercrave
Chepstow v CRC Caerdydd
Cwmafan v Furnace United
Cwmllynfell v Pembroke Dock Quins
Fairwater v Fleur De Lys
Llangwm v Cwmgors
Llanhilleth v Nantyglo
Llanybydder v Llandeilo
Nant Conwy II v Dinbych
Nantymoel v Haverfordwest
Neath Athletic v Tregaron
New Dock Stars v Neyland
Old Illtydians v Rhymney
Pembroke v Trimsaran
Penygraig v Machen
Penygroes v Cefneithin
Rhyl & District v Shotton Steel
St Albans v Cardiff Quins
Treherbert v Pontyclun
Tumble v Tonmawr
Tylorstown v Canton
Wattstown v Llandaff
Welshpool v Bro Ffestiniog

Action from the 2023 Division 3 Cup final between Abertillery BG and Vardre

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September  

Caerau Ely v Hafodyrynys
Crickhowell v Newport Saracens
Crumlin v New Panteg
Glyncorrwg v Crynant
Gwernyfed v New Tredegar
Llandaff North v Bettws
Llantwit Major v Brackla
Maesteg v Alltwen
Pontrhydyfen v Briton Ferry
Pontycymmer v Bedwellty
South Gower v Glais
St Julians HSOB v Blackwood Stars
Tonyrefail v Old Penarthians
Whitehead v Ferndale
Ynysowen v Cefn Coed

Bryncethin celebrate winning the Division 4 Cup title last season

Round 1 – Saturday, 23 September 

Abersychan v Hirwaun
Beaufort v Deri
Bro Gwernant v Llangefni II
Cardiff Saracens v Cardiff Internationals
COBRA II v Wrexham II
Colwyn Bay II v Llanidloes
Cwmcarn United v Tredegar Ironsides
Cwmtwrch v Pontyates
Dinas Powys v Girling
Flint v Rhosllanerchrugog
Hartridge v Sully Sports
Llandrindod Wells v Pontllanfraith
Menai Bridge v Caernarfon II
Mold II v Rhyl & District II
Ogmore Vale v Brynithel
Old Tyleryan v Magor
Penlan v Cwmgwrach
Penybanc v Fall Bay
Porthmadog v Dolgellau II
Pwllheli II v Bala II
Ruthin II v Machynlleth
Seven Sisters v Banwen
West Mon v Hollybush
Whitchurch v Trefil

Byes: Forgeside, Trinant, Tref Y Clawdd, Pantyffynnon,
Rhigos, Bethesda II, Llandudno II

Andrew Headford powers over to score for Ferndale in the 2023 Division 5 Cup final

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