This weekend sees the Exiles welcome a Welsh club to ODP for the first time in nearly 12 years. While we’ve played ‘home’ friendlies against Neath (at Ealing), Aberavon (at Camberley) and Celtic Warriors (at Imber Court), Llanelli will be the first club to visit ODP since 1998-99 when they, along with Blackwood and Newport, were on the receiving end of record-breaking displays from the home side.
Llanelli RFC were officially formed in November 1875, ten years before London Welsh, their first fixture being on New Year’s Day 1876 against Cambria, a Swansea-based team.It has been suggested that the club was actually formed in 1872, but a lack of opposition meant that the club were forced to wait three years before playing their inaugural fixture.In 1879 they adopted Stradey Park as their home ground, and after a series of colour changes, including blue, black, rose and red & chocolate quarters, finally settled upon the famous scarlet jerseys five years later.The first meeting of our two clubs took place at Stradey Park on Christmas Eve 1886, and three years later, on 31st October 1889, Llanelli were the first Welsh club to visit the Exiles when they ran out at Raynes Park in front of a crowd in the region of 500.The visitors won by a goal and a try in each half, which equated to 8-0 under the scoring values of the day or 24-0 by today’s rates.The Christmas fixture didn’t switch to Boxing Day until after the Second World War, continuing until 1995, and it was 1948 before Welsh claimed their first victory at Stradey.
Perhaps Llanelli’s most famous day came on Hallowe’en 1972 when the All Blacks were defeated 9-3 in front of a crowd of 26,000.That was the season when the club marked its official centenary, but it has since been suggested that the club chose to celebrate three years early in order for the commemorations to coincide with the visit of the tourists.They have a proud history of upsetting touring sides, dating back to December 1888, when they beat the New Zealand Native (Maori) team by a goal to nil.The tour began in June 1888, lasted 14 months and covered 107 matches – 74 in the UK & Ireland, 17 in New Zealand and 16 in Australia.The Maori beat Ireland by four goals and a try to a goal and a try at Lansdowne Road on December 1st; lost to Wales by a goal and two tries to nil at St. Helens three weeks later; and in February were beaten by a goal and four tries to nil by England at Blackheath.Three of the Wales team – Alexander Bland and Norman Biggs of Cardiff and Newport’s Jim Hannan – went on to represent London Welsh, whose match with the Maori at Richmond Athletic Ground, won by the tourists by two tries to one, remains the only meeting between the Welsh and a fully-fledged touring international side.
Llanelli’s most recent victory over a senior touring side was in November 1992, when they beat Australia 13-9 courtesy of Ieuan Evans’ try, famously copied from one of the Wallabies’ own moves.That season also saw them win the WRU Heineken League and a third consecutive WRU Cup to claim a self-styled ‘treble’.The club has a history of success in the knockout format since its introduction in 1972, having won the trophy 13 times, most recently in 2005, and been runners-up on a further six occasions, including a 27-21 defeat to Neath last season.Indeed, they were finalists in the WRU Cup in each of the first five seasons - although they lost 15-9 to Neath in the inaugural final, they proceeded to reel off four consecutive victories, beating Cardiff, Aberavon (twice) and Newport.
The pool meeting with Aberavon on the opening weekend of this season’s British & Irish Cup saw the Wizards claim a 19-16 victory at Parc y Scarlets, and this was followed by a 36-24 defeat at Bedford a week later.Things have picked-up slightly since, with a 21-21 draw at home to Ulster Ravens in round three being followed by a 35-21 win at home to Moseley last weekend.The Midlands team have collected a solitary point from their four games, courtesy of a try-bonus in their second-half fightback against the Exiles in the opening fixture.Despite last week’s defeat, we still have a chance – albeit slim - of reaching the semi-finals.With Ulster and Welsh level on 16 points, the head-to-head result sees the Ravens top the table at this stage.What this means is that we have to collect the win complete with try bonus on Saturday and hope that Aberavon – currently fourth behind Bedford as a result of the Blues’ 17-15 win in their meeting last Saturday - can prevent Ulster from claiming the full five points at Ravenhill 24 hours later.If we fail to better Ulster’s result, they will proceed to the knockout stages.
As mentioned previously, the last meeting, on February 21st 1998, resulted in a record 43-7 win for the Exiles.We were in the middle of the most successful season in the club’s history, Rowland Phillips and Clive Griffiths’ team winning 28 of 34 fixtures with one draw, racking up 193 tries and 1,304 points in the process.For posterity, here are the two teams that day:
London Welsh – Peter Shaw (1t), Scott Roskell, Andy Currier (2t), Steve Pilgrim, Martin Giraud, Craig Raymond (5c, 1p), Darren Edwards (1t); Simon Emms, Andy Tucker, Andy Millward, Eldon Moors (1t), Cliff Vogl, Dave Muckalt (1t), Luke Jones, Rowland Phillips.
Reps used – Michael Dawes, Tom Lewsey, Garry Holmes, Ryan Campbell, Dylan Griffiths.
Llanelli – Daniel Rogers, Garan Evans, Jamie Evans, Nigel Davies, Matthew Wintle, Frano Botica (1c), Aled Thomas; Aled Jones, Jason Hyatt, Dai Jones, Martin Morgan, Dave Hodges, Ceri Davies, Adrian Chiffi (1t), Hywel Jenkins.
Reps used – Chris Hughes, Stephen Jones, Emyr Jones.
London Welsh have chosen a team with a strong Welsh flavour when they play host to Llanelli in the British & Irish Cup at Old Deer Park tomorrow. Kick off 2.00pm.
Ten of the starting fifteen are Welsh qualified led by Nathan Bonner-Evans from Number 8.
15: Ed Lewis-Pratt
14: Dominic Shabbo
13: Paul Mackey
12: Simon Whatling
11: Errie Claassens
10: Aled Thomas
9: Rob Lewis
1: Dorian Williams
2: Dan George
3: Lorne Ward
4: Matt Corker
5: Mike Powell
6: Jonathan Mills
7: Lee Beach
8: Nathan Bonner-Evans
Ben Gotting, Joe Horn-Smith, Tom Brown, Michael Hills, Ben Stevenson, Neil Starling, Greg Evans.
Found this on a link from the Llanelli RFC website
Old rivals hoping to relive former glories
Friday, March 05, 2010, 11:00
Comment on this story
LLANELLI renew acquaintances with old adversaries London Welsh tomorrow (2) hoping to reproduce some of the magic which graced this fixture in the past.
The clubs formed a strong relationship during the amateur era, with Boxing Day fixtures being played in front of packed crowds.
And while the friendly fixture between the clubs has since been scrapped, Llanelli and London Welsh do battle once more in the British & Irish Cup at Old Deer Park tomorrow.
Anthony Buchanan's side will go up against some familiar faces, with Daniel George, Paul Mackey, Dorian Williams, Jonathan Mills and Liam Davies having played for Llanelli in the past.
The links continue via former Osprey Nathan Bonner-Evans, who started his rugby with Llanelli Wanderers.
Buchanan, who played in the popular matches against tomorrow's opponents, has been hit by key withdrawals as his side look to sign off the campaign on a winning note.
"This was a fixture we always looked forward to as players," said Buchanan. "The atmosphere — whether in Llanelli or up there — was fantastic and so was the quality of rugby.
"And I think this game will help my players too.
''London Welsh are targeting the next stage in the competition while we are out of the running.
"They have a strong squad with a lot of familiar faces, and the fact they are going so well in their own league is another reminder of their quality."
Buchanan also praised the tournament, labelling it a key stage in the development of his players.
"It's been a breath of fresh air," he added. "If there was some sponsorship and funding behind it, this would further help the progress of young players that will hopefully become future Scarlets or even Wales internationals."
Llanelli will be without full-back Dan Newton as he is on regional duty, while centre Scott Williams is with Wales Under-20s.
Full-back Jonny Lewis (broken jaw) is unavailable, while flanker Nic Cudd faces up to six weeks out with a groin problem.
Buchanan includes wing Dorian Thomas — who has featured for Llanharan this season — along with Ceri Jones, who is on loan from Tonmawr.
North Walian Jack Roberts, on loan from Carmarthen Athletic, provides the backs cover on the bench.
LLANELLI: D. Ford; D. Thomas, C. Keenan, S. Martin, J. Howells; S. Shingler, G. Davies; S. Hopkins, C. Hawkins (capt), C. Jones, A. Powell, N. White, A. Shingler, S. Phillips, D. Eager. Reps: T. Davies, R. Lawrence, B. Morgan, L. Lewis, J. James, N. Reynolds, J. Roberts.
Really enjoyed the game despite divided loyalties! Disappointed Welsh didn't get the bp to give Ulster something to think about next Friday. Thought the Llanelli boys - somewhat lacking in size by comaprison - acquitted themselves well especially in defence in the latter stages. Great day only spoilt, briefly, by the Ealing supporter proclaiming the game 'mediocre' amongst other things in a rather pompous manner. Didn't bother to ask him why he hadn't made the arduos trek to Henley.
Ealing who?! They started the season solidly but have gone off the boil a bit and a 19-all draw against Henley hardly helped their prospects.
Lots of talk on their site about ambition but nothing really concrete to show for it. Can't see them making any major impact in London rugby and have probably found their level for as long as Trailfinders keep the cash coming.
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