Black Saturday and relegation dogfights by Fraser Watson

In his final rugby column before Christmas, Fraser Watson talks 'Black Saturday', relegation dogfights, Ryan Conbeer, prop cover, and Christmas cheer.

Black Saturday:

Back in December 2009, I remember playing for St Davids against St Clears the day after ‘black’ Friday.

Pre kick-off the field was like a morgue, the first scrum produced unnatural noises, and our outside half fell over four times before he finally co-ordinated a clearance kick.

But when the hangovers subsided, both teams produced a decent, hard fought game of rugby. A game we won 15-10 by the way, if you’re asking.

Which all makes me question why, especially with an end of season backlog looming, we have no club rugby this Saturday?

In re-arranged fixtures Llangwm do go to Laugharne, while Whitland Women host Bonymaen on Sunday, but aside from that it’s another wasted weekend.

It does seem to again lean towards this notion that we’re going soft on players. If you’re committed to playing for your team, confining yourself to a few pints less than you’d like the night before isn’t an unfathomable concept.

Better still, get hammered after the game instead.

A fight to the finish:

So again, we have the ruling that ‘up to three teams’ will be relegated from the One and Two West divisions. It might yet be two, depending on geographical factors.

I can’t be bothered to flag up my feelings on that again. It made no difference the first time.

But what is clear, is that many of our Pembrokeshire sides have a fight in their hands from now until May.

In One West, Pembroke and Crymych prop up the table on nine points. In the league below that, Milford have now dropped to third bottom and Tenby and Fishguard lie just one and three points better off respectively. Such is the nature of that league none of the trio are that far off second place either, but when tallies are so close you can plummet as quickly as you can rise.

However, this is what playing in higher divisions is all about. The games, and league tables, are unforgiving and often you have to dig deep and be clinical when it matters.

For all the afore mentioned sides, some big tests of mettle lie ahead.

Ryan ConbeerConbeer kicking on:

Ryan Conbeer’s 2018/19 campaign was disrupted by an injury sustained playing for the Wales 7s side in Dubai. It seems he’s fully recovered.

The former Greenhill pupil, still only 20, already has a career highlights reel to savour and has represented Wales at every age group level.

And on Saturday, in the European Challenge Cup between Scarlets and Bayonne, the game was only six minutes old when he raced onto Steff Hughes' kick to open the scoring.

In the modern day professional game, it is not enough for a winger to run in overlaps. They need pace, elusiveness, work rate, physicality, and a strong defensive game.

But to really stand out, they need an x-factor that produces quality tries at significant moments. And Conbeer seems to possess that quality in abundance.

It may sound a big call, but my hunch is he will one day have Welsh senior caps to add to his age grade ones.

Simon GardinerPropping up the Ospreys:

In other regional rugby news, Pembrokeshire products Simon Gardiner and Rhys Fawcett have joined the Ospreys from Scarlets on a short term loan deal.

And they were straight into the thick of it Friday, coming off the bench in their side’s epic game with Racing 92 in the European Champions Cup.

It’s a window of opportunity for both to impress again on the professional stage. And it could also make for some tasty scrums against Rob Evans and co on Boxing Day….

Christmas cheer:

Ok, it’s Christmas. Let’s finish with some positivity and gratitude.

I/we have a tendency to pick the bad bones out of local rugby. However, while there are certainly issues to address moving forward, there is still plenty of good work being done as well.

Rhys FawcettWhether it be in the clubs or schools, ample players, teachers, coaches, referees, and general volunteers are working incredibly hard to keep the game going at both junior and senior level. Often they have difficult tasks and are there to be shot at - but still dedicate their time to roles that many of us are not prepared to do ourselves.

So if you get the chance, do pop into your local club for a pint or a squash this Christmas and help keep it going. Chances are you’d miss it immensely if it was gone.

On a personal note, thank you to all club contacts (or Twitter accounts) that help with information and allow the likes of Pembrokeshire Sport to keep our coverage of local rugby going.

And if you read this column every week and go away muttering ‘Fraser Watson is a rugby has been who talks nonsense’……then well, you’re probably right, but you’re still reading it aren’t you.

Full fixtures back next week. Until then, easy on the turkey everyone.