Welcome to the Otters '100 Club' - Jonathan Rogers

Jonathan Rogers A recent Narberth RFC game proved to be a milestone in the rugby career of Jonathan Rogers as he played his 100th league game for The Otters, which is a fine achievement, writes Ken Mathias.
Jon was brought up in a very rugby-orientated family as his grandfather Berry was a fine hooker for Pembroke Dock Harlequins RFC for many seasons and later became the first team coach, whereas Jon's father Paul was an outstanding back row forward for the Quins and played a major role in the Club winning the Pembrokeshire Championship in the 1987-88 season.
Paul played on numerous occasions for Pembrokeshire County but probably the highlight of his County games was playing against the touring American Eagles side on the 3rd November 1987 in a 15-21 defeat at Whitland when he made up the back row with Mike Evans and Alan Reynolds. He also coached the Quins’ Youth team for several seasons and was at the helm when the side, which included Jon, won the Pembrokeshire Under 15’s Cup.

Junior and youth rugby played at Bierspool – and then on to Tenby

Jon began his rugby career with the Quins’ junior and youth age groups before joining Tenby RFC during the 2013-14 season in Division Three (West), where he soon established himself as the first choice scrum half. This proved quite a successful season as Tenby, under the captaincy of Chris James, won the Pembrokeshire Senior Cup by beating Aberystwyth in the Final by 45-12 at Fishguard, having beaten Whitland and Crymych in earlier rounds. Jon also proved to be a fine sevens player and was part of the Tenby side which won the Newport Sevens tournament that season.
Tenby had also experienced a successful season in the League, having finished as runners up to champions Gorseinon, which resulted in them having to go into a play-off against Wattstown from Division Three (South East) to determine which of the two Clubs would take their place the following season in the newly formed Division One (West).

Impressed Llanelli – and joined them!

Tenby produced an excellent performance on the day to win 56-7, with Jon producing one of his finest performances of the season which resulted in Llanelli offering him a place in their squad for the 2014-15 season, which he accepted.
During that season Jon played some sixteen games for Llanelli, many of those off the bench, and together with a couple of persistent injuries he found it difficult to maintain the high level of performance that he knew he was capable of producing.
The travelling to training and games also took its toll and Jon also had to contend with the likes of Gareth Davies and Justin James coming into the side at scrum half to recover their sharpness following an injury before returning to the Scarlets’ squad, which again restricted his opportunities.

Narberth called – and he answered!

But a rib injury to Rhys Lane, the Narberth scrum half in February, 2015 resulted in the Narberth coaching staff contacting Jon and Llanelli and it was agreed that he would play for the Club on permit at home to Bargoed in a league game in which he partnered Ianto Griffiths at half back. Narberth lost that fixture 17-22, but Jon's debut for the Club had gone well and prior to the end of the season he played on one more occasion for the Club in the 19-6 victory away at Llanharan.
Jon admits that he learnt a great deal at Llanelli but also realised at the time that to gain regular game time he would have to move clubs, and so it was no real surprise when he signed for Narberth at the start of the 2015-16 season.

Played well at No 9 . . .

Lewys Gibby, a young talented scrum half from Pembroke, had also joined Narberth that season and so with Rhys Lane also vying for the scrum half berth the club had three excellent players available in that position and to alleviate the problem Jon played the odd game at outside half, one being the first league game of the season in the 18-26 defeat to Pontypool in which he scored his first points for Narberth by kicking one penalty and a conversation.
But it was at scrum half that he excelled, especially in the 43-3 victory against Glynneath and the 26-32 success against Cardiff Met, a game in which Jon's tactical kicking was of the highest order and in each of those games he was named Man of the Match.

. . . And then switched to No 10

In all Jon played in 23 league games in that first season for Narberth, 16 at scrum half and 7 at outside half. However, at the start of the following season a decision was made between Jon and the coaching staff for him to play the majority of the games at outside half, a decision that Jon agreed was more beneficial to the team and which saw him share the burden of that position with Ianto Griffiths.
This agreement was a very unselfish decision by Jon but one which only demonstrated fully his willingness to put the interest of the team ahead of his own. Jon is a fine reader of the game and with the ability that this talented player possesses he soon settled in to this new position and has become a very competent player at outside half and an important member of the team.

Jonathan Rogers - top all-round performance for Pembroke

Did well in the 2016/17 campaign

The 2016-17 season was a very successful one for Narberth as they finished as runners up in the Championship to Pontypool, and in the first two league games Jon produced excellent performances in the 35-17 home win against Bedlinog a game in which he scored his first league try for Narberth, and the 23-13 first ever league victory recorded by Narberth against Newcastle Emlyn in which he was again Man of the Match.
But unfortunately Jon broke his wrist outside of rugby which side-lined him for some nine weeks but he still played sixteen league games and scored 72 points which is his highest total in a league season to date. Jon demonstrated his goal kicking ability towards the end of the season when Narberth beat Dunvant 73-7, scoring eleven tries, and Jon converted nine of them, several of which were difficult and from out wide.
Narberth are very fortunate in that they have three very fine goal kickers in Jon, Ianto Griffiths and Nick Gale, and quite often the kicking duties are shared between them and as a result the total points scored by each is not a true reflection on the totals that they could have recorded had each been given more opportunities.

Jonathan Rogers dives in for a try

More success the next two seasons

The 2017-18 season saw Narberth again finish as runners up to Pontypool in the championship and Jon again had a very consistent season, and had the distinction of being the only player to have played in all twenty two league games in which he scored 44 points with possibly the highlights being his two penalties and winning drop goal in the 16-13 victory at Beddau, and his fine try in the 39-17 home win against Tata Steel.
The start of the 2018-19 season saw Jon start on a high by scoring a try in the 57-28 home win over Bedlinog, but he then suffered a very painful injury to his foot which kept him out for a month, but on his return he produced possibly one of his finest performances for Narberth in the 13-7 win at Newbridge where in very wet conditions his fine tactical kicking penned the home side deep in their own half and kept them on the back foot a performance which rightly earned him the MoM award.

Covid struck and limited rugby matches – but more played this year

The 2019-20 season was terminated in March, 2020 after sixteen league games due to covid and leading up to that decision the season had been a very wet and windy one - and Jon had been involved in most games but for the majority he had started on the bench, but he still made a telling contribution especially away at Trebanos in a 3-3 draw played in a gale and heavy rain and in which he kicked the decisive penalty to again demonstrate his ability to control a game with his fine kicking out of hand.
Rugby recommenced in August, 2021 but not in the league but in the newly formed Champions Cup and the first game saw Narberth defeat Ystalyfera away 24-20 with Jon kicking two conversions and a penalty. Narberth continued their good form in the Cup and qualified for Phase Two with two wins against Ystalyfera and Trebanos and a 24-all draw at Glamorgan Wanderers, a game in which Jon kicked a conversion and four penalties to earn him the Man of the Match award. When the league fixtures recommenced The Otters’ first game at home was to Neath by 22-30, a game in which Jon scored the home side’s only try.

Jonathan Rogers breaks for a try

Involved on the field and off it too

Besides being a fine player and an important member of the squad Jon is a very upbeat and positive person and ensures that the morale amongst the players, especially in the changing room, has maintained at a high level and his efforts are really appreciated by both players and coaching staff.
So now Jon is nicely passed his 100th league game for Narberth RFC and everyone at the club extends our congratulations to him on reaching this milestone in his rugby career and hopefully this talented player will play many more games over the coming years for the Club and whose efforts on behalf of Narberth RFC are really appreciated by everyone associated with it.

And finally . . .

On knowing this article was being written Jon wished to add a few words to express his gratitude to everyone at Narberth RFC who have made him feel so welcome over the last six years ...
‘’Being a Pembroke Dock boy I never thought that I'd play a hundred games for another rugby club besides the Quins but that's a testament to everyone at Narberth RFC, who from the outset have made me feel so welcome.
“I feel Narberth has a perfect balance of playing a good standard of rugby and still retaining a real local atmosphere, both on and off the field. The players always buy into this and the staff, and supporters make everyone feel so welcomed and I believe this togetherness is one of the main reasons that it is the most successful club in Pembrokeshire.
“I have made friends for life at this club and have never dreaded anything to do with it (apart from Galey's Monday night shocking training drills). Many thanks to the old boys supporting us every week on the bus, but especially to Sheena who looks after us three nights of the week with a smile on her face and is always the life and soul of the party.
“Final mention has to go to the boys, whether it be coaching staff or the players past and present - it's a pleasure playing with you all and even more of a pleasure to have a social at the club - so yeah, here's to a 100 more games for Narberth RFC!”                                    

Jonathan Rogers v Newbridge (h)