Fraser Watson talking all good things in Pembrokeshire rugby circles

In his latest weekly column, Fraser Watson talks about blaming referees, crunch time for Crymych, the Dewar Shield and a big day for Owen at Bierspool.

Ref not always responsible:

When rounding up the local rugby scores and reports on Saturday, I spoke to four club contacts who were in no doubt as to why their side hadn’t won. They’d been done over by the referee.

That’s hardly uncommon. After all, you’ve got more chance of muting Israel Folau than you have of finding two teams that universally praise an official after a game of grassroots rugby.

But it’s that word that is the key here – grassroots. We aren’t blessed with professional referees who have the benefit of neutral touch judges and video technology. They will make mistakes and interpretations of the laws will vary.

Sometimes, it’s about being clued up enough to adapt to those interpretations and shouting about injustice afterwards is all too easy.

Don’t get me wrong, a wrongfully awarded penalty that allowed Bynea to beat St Davids in the 2009/10 season is still etched in my memory, but the decision won’t ever be changed.

And like the Saints that day, quite often pointing the finger simply masks the fact your side hasn’t managed the final moments adequately enough to win.

Crunch time for Crymych:

Few sides have had their players picked off to the extent Crymych have in recent seasons.

The Powell brothers, Gavin Thomas, Rhodri Davies, Ifan Phillips, the list of those who have gone up to semi pro level could go on.

That trend is obviously a positive indictment on the club but when the pressure is on to keep churning out young talent, eventually there comes a time where you’ll have to rebuild.

You sense that time is now for the Preseli Men. They currently have a very young squad and injuries have mounted up recent weeks. But such factors matter little when you’re in a fight to stay up and if they want to maintain their Division One status, a massive five games lie ahead.

First comes a derby at Whitland on Saturday, and then intertwined with the Six Nations are games against the four other sides currently planted in the bottom five, including Pembroke.

Crymych have been here before and the assumption often is they’ll be fine once the sun comes out and the pitches dry up.

But this time around time is against them and starting with Saturday, they need to deliver come wind, rain, or shine.

Dewar delight:

Long gone are the days when the Dewar Shield was a straight knockout tournament, with the only the best left standing in the latter rounds.

Now the County Schools’ Under 15s competition is separated into three tiers, with Pembrokeshire competing in the Morgan Griffiths Plate category.

But it’s tournament that remains significant to the development of any young player. For many, it’s the first real experience of taking on quality opposition and encountering hostile atmospheres on the road.

With that in mind it has been heartening to see Pembrokeshire Schools’ finish their league campaign with wins over Carmarthen and Cynon Valley. And those results followed pre-Christmas wins over Vale of Glamorgan and RGC East.

They now face an anxious wait to see if they qualify for later rounds but regardless, the squad has competed well with so called bigger counties and the experience will stand the players involved in good stead.

School rugby in Wales has long played second fiddle to club academies and has been decimated further by educational cutbacks and mergers.

That’s sad to see – it should be a breeding ground for all young players and full credit to those in Pembrokeshire still fighting against the tide.

A worthwhile day in the Dock:

As discussed before in this column, the notion of the rugby family is a real one.

That was evident in Pembrokeshire last year when clubs around the county came together to raise funds for Eliza Scriven, the granddaughter of Llangwm RFC stalwart Richard, to help raise money for her life changing surgery.

And it has now been confirmed that Valero will play a Pembrokeshire side on March 7th at Pembroke Dock in aid of Owen James, who has Pitt Hopkins syndrome. Owen’s father Iwan is currently team manager at Crymych while his mum, Jemma Scourfield, hails from a family synonymous with rugby at Bierspool.

The interest in the occasion is already rising and the cause will ensure a big turnout.

Whilst the social side of rugby has undoubtedly dwindled in decades gone by, when it comes to camaraderie and clubs coming together for a worthwhile cause, there’s still no better sport in the world.