We take a look back at the season, get the thoughts of Performance Manager Josh Leach as well as some of the players.
Josh Leach "With departure of Mark Jones and Phil John at the end of the 2018/19 season, we saw the end of a consistent and successful coaching partnership and we knew that the season was always going to present a period of transition for RGC. We also should give special thanks is given to Phil who kindly extended his time with us over preseason
As usual Gaz Whittaker took the reigns in preseason doing a fantastic job of conditioning the players ready for the start of the season, with Latham Tawhai stepping up to lead on a lot of the skill delivery.
This was also our first preseason with the still new 4G pitch at Parc Eirias, allowing all our teams to train on a good surface and full size pitch during the period the main pitch is out of action.
During this time we also welcomed Matt Silva into the Head Coach role. Sadly Matt’s time with us was short lived as he had to leave us for personal reasons in November before he really had a chance to get his feet under the table.
All the hard work and effort in the summer months payed off as the boys started the season with a bang picking up a great win against reigning Champions Merthyr in the opening game at Stadiwm Zip World
The good weather allowed for some great rugby during the early part of the season with the team scoring 112 points in the first 4 games. We had a number of players making an impact - such as Beau Williams returning from injury, George Roberts stepping up as first choice hooker, and newcomer Rhys Tudor all had a great impact during this period.
At this point we also welcomed Saul Nelson to the set up as our forwards coach. With strong scrummaging teams ahead in Cardiff and Carmarthen, Saul didn’t have much time to roll his sleeves up but had an immediate impact. Saul has been a great addition to RGC, the players have enjoyed his passion for set piece play, and he has spent some valuable time with the junior age groups.
Finding the Consistency
As the weather became changeable, so did our performances with highs against Aberavon at home including some unbelievable first half tries; Llanelli at home; and of course Swansea away when Oscar Lennon finished off an incredible final ten minute comeback.
So often in the past the All Whites have been the ones to steal the games from us in the dying minutes, so it was great to get one back on them. We had Tom Hughes, Dion Jones, and Afon Bagshaw all back to their best at this point creating regular line breaks in the wider channels and on transition.
As for the lows we have to inlcude Ebbw Vale at home, and Pontypridd away. In those two games where we were really lacking, and frustrated through stoppages and errors. There is no doubt we are at our best when we can raise the speed and energy of the game, and to do this we have to have the ball. In the games where we don’t have it, we need to be patient but ready to go as soon as we get it. Too often in these games we lost the ball and stalled the speed and energy in the game.
Then just as we were looking forward to the final stages of the season we reached a dramatic and premature end! A strange and ongoing scenario that we probably won’t experience again in our lifetime.
Although we haven’t had the opportunity to reflect on the season together, there is plenty that we never got to celebrate. The team finished top of the Premiership points scoring and try scoring tables, with 409 points and 53 tries. Billy McBryde had a great season finishing top of the Premiership individual points scoring table with 163 points, including 6 tries in a run of 50 straight appearances. Afon Bagshaw and Rhys Tudor tied second in the leagues try scoring table, with 7 each, Tom Hughes and Harri Evans both in the mix too.
Whilst those boys stole the glory, players such as Jordan Scott (Supporters Club Player of the Year), George Roberts, Joe Simpson, Bryn Jones, Robin Williams, Andrew Williams, and Jordan Jones, racked up some serious minutes and put in a huge amount of graft throughout the year.
Credit to physio Oran for managing them through a few bumps and bruises along the way!
We also saw Will Bryan, Danny Cross and Tim Grey reach 100 appearances in the RGC shirt.
Personally for me, one of the most exciting reflections is seeing the depth we are starting to build through youngsters such as Pedr Jones, Sam Williams, Oscar Lennon, Rhodri King, Sam Earl Jones, Matt Buchanan, and Oscar Crowe to name a few. Some have featured for RGC more than others, but many have been learning valuable lessons playing for their home clubs in the North Wales League and will no doubt play a big part in the future of the club.
Finally, to sign off on the year, I have to say a huge thank you to all the staff, the players, and their families who give so much time to help us do what we do. The level of commitment from people like Daf, Jim, Latham, Scott is what continues to drive us forward.
Another big thanks goes to our faithful supporters who travel further than most, make more noise than most, in order to keep encouraging the team home and away. Your support and singing continues to inspire the boys!
To the sponsors, partners, North Wales Community Team and North Wales clubs who continue to back the team in so many ways. Your support allows us to deliver better atmosphere on game days and a better programme on week days, and opens the door to so many opportunities for the young players in North Wales.
Having been involved with RGC for some time now, I’m amazed at how it has grown over the years, and the number of people and partners now involved. Everybody plays their own individual part in helping the region move forward.
Until next season, whenever that may be, take care! "
We asked the players for some highlights of the season
Favourite Game - I enjoyed the Llanelli games both home and away, which were high scoring winning encounters (43-21 and 43-24)
Favourite Try – My try against Llanelli, obviously
Highlight – Some special isolation haircuts going on now
Take away from the season – Less is more (playing less does wonders for my knees!)
Favourite Game - Llandovery home
Highlight – Running out for my 150th cap
Favourite try – George Roberts against Pontypridd
Favourite Game: Merthyr start of the season was one to remember
Favourite game: The first 40 minutes versus Aberavon
Highlight: Last minute winner against Swansea
Favourite Try: George Roberts versus Pontypridd
Favourite game: Merthyr home
Highlight: Making my 50th appearance
Favourite try: Oscar Lennon last minute score at Swansea
Favourite game: Winning against Merthyr in the first game of the season
Favourite try: George pretending to be Schalk Brits against Pontypridd