Rob Evans recalled for Wales Six Nations 2020 squad

In his latest column, Fraser Watson looks at a recall for Rob Evans, the sharpness of Ashley Sutton, record keeper Ken and Rowland's extended 'break'.

Rob EvansRob's timely recall:

It has been a strange few years in a Welsh shirt for Rob Evans.

The former Haverfordwest payer narrowly missed on World Cup squads in both 2015 and 2019, and yet for much of the time in-between was a lynchpin in the front row for Warren Gatland.

Injury problems and the emergence of Rhys Carre perhaps cost him a trip to Japan but those who started penning his international obituary did so too early.

Evans remains a unique type of loosehead prop - reliable in the tight and both willing and comfortable in open play. At 27, he still has much to offer both his region and his country.

His recall for the Six Nations is a boost for him, and a boost for Wales.


Ashley SuttonThe sharpness of Sutton:

Last Saturday, Whitland v Llangennech was played in the kind of conditions where wingers were as likely to catch hypothermia as they were a pass.

And yet the rain and swirling winds were defied by a contest that yielded eight tries - three of which came from home full back Ashley Sutton. Furthermore, his were the sort of individual scores more suited to a dry day in Dubai as opposed to a wet one in Whitland.

Sutton is set to return to the starting XV at Llanelli RFC this weekend and being involved in the Premiership set up has clearly benefitted him. And if he continues to display that kind of sharpness and confidence, he will boost The Borderers hugely when available.

The top tier of semi-professional rugby in Wales has its critics, but its’ a tough environment that can improve players. Sutton seems proof of that.


Old school Ken:

Ken MathiasThere's a lot of mileage in nostalgia.

As journalists, players, club committees, you name it, we've all got pretty lazy when it comes to archives. After all, there's nothing out there that Google or Twitter won't tell you anyway.

But history and memories in rugby can mean a lot, and so can statistics.

Last Saturday, no sooner was my colleague Bill Carne questioning if Narberth's game with Trebanos was the first to finish 3-3 for The Otters since the National Leagues began - than Ken Mathias was giving him the answer.

It was actually at least the third time, two of the others being games with Tregedar and Whitland.

In Tenby United records are kept of player appearances while in St Davids, John James has gone through more notebooks than Jack Dudley's had barrels of beer.

Pembrokeshire rugby boasts its own history and in years to come, this generation will enjoy reflecting on it just as the older generation do now.

So in that respect, old school record keepers like Ken are worth their weight in gold. And can even tell you things the internet can't.


Rowland's unexplained absence:

Rowland PhillipsWe should be celebrating a good week for women's rugby in Pembrokeshire.

Jasmine Joyce, Lisa Neumann, Lleucu George, Sarah Lawrence, and Courtney Keight were all named in the Wales Six Nations squad, and all should be commended for doing so. 

However, selection for everyone has been clouded by the situation surrounding a sixth local figure, former Ysgol Dewi Sant pupil and current head coach Rowland Phillips.

It was announced before the autumn internationals that Phillips would be taking a break from his role. Now that break has been extended beyond the Six Nations. An explanation as to why has not been forthcoming.

Rumours of fall outs behind the scenes are rife and it seems inconceivable that Phillips will return to the helm. But the lack of clarity from all quarters is baffling and the situation now needs to be addressed and clarified.

To add it to all his daughter Carys and Sioned Harries, two of their country's most pivotal players in recent years, have been axed from the squad with stand in coaches Chris Horsman, Geraint Lewis and Gareth Wyatt citing the need to build for the 2021 World Cup. 

The pair are in form and are 27 and 30-years-old respectively. That doesn't wash either.

The WRU want Welsh rugby fans behind the women's national side.

So they shouldn’t take them for fools.