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1st XV Match Preview V Llanelli (Away) Sat 27/02/2010 

BIG MATCH PREVIEW

 

by Joe Heaton


Llanelli Scarlets v Moseley, at Parc y Scarlets, B & I Cup,
Saturday, 27th February 2010, k.o. 2.30 pm


The B & I Cup; what on earth is it and what has it got to do with Moseley? Few club members have yet come to terms with what this new competition is all about. And yet it sees the very welcome return on Saturday of another traditional fixture pitting Moseley, once again, against one of the other historically greatest rugby clubs in the British Isles in the 1970’s.

Moseley has a long and fruitful competitive history against Llanelli going back for decades before the advent of the English and Welsh leagues. Indeed such was the respect for Moseley in the 1970’s that our club was invited to be the opposition to celebrate the opening of Llanelli’s new floodlights at Stradey Park at that time!

The fact that Moseley, with one of the strongest fixture lists in the British Isles, had been unbeaten (home or away) in Wales for two years at that time may have had something to do with the respect in which our club was held in the Principality!

Llanelli had a number of great players then including Phil Bennett, Derek Quinnell and Ray Gravelle whereas our own seven England International players which included, Nigel Horton, Jan Webster, Martin Cooper, John Finlan etc were not without gravitas in the game either!

The British and Irish Cup, rugby’s newest cross border tournament, is a joint venture between the RFU and their Irish, Welsh and Scottish counterparts. It involves 24 teams – England’s 12 Championship clubs, the leading club sides in Wales and Scotland, the top three Irish provinces and a Scotland Development XV known as Gael Force.

The participants are placed in four pools, A-D, each containing six clubs. The four winners of these pools play in two semi-finals that lead to the final of the cup. Detractors of the competition should ask themselves how else could Moseley once again be playing traditional fixtures against Cardiff, Llanelli, Newport and Neath?

Moseley is in Pool C with Aberavon, Bedford, Llanelli, London Welsh and Ulster. Our club plays Llanelli away on Saturday, having already lost to Aberavon, away and Ulster at home, to prop up the pool C table.

The town of Llanelli, with a population of some 35,000, is situated in the south eastern corner of Carmarthenshire, some 12 miles west of the City of Swansea, and covers around 2,100 acres. It is a coastal town, where the Welsh language is still widely spoken and which had a long association with the tinplate, steel and coal mining industries.

With the regretful decline of manufacturing in the UK over the last two decades Llanelli has suffered greatly and the town’s famous rugby club has done much to maintain the spirits of the tight community in difficult and trying circumstances

Llanelli, (the club, not to be confused with the Welsh regional side “Llanelli Scarlets” which plays under the same name in the Magners League and Heineken Cup) is in the Welsh Premiership and will be playing Moseley at the new (2008) stadium Parc y Scarlets which replaced the famous Stradey Park. There is no rugby playing city or town in the world that identifies more with its rugby team and supports it with greater passion.

The club was formed in 1872 and played at Stradey Park from 1904 to 2007. Llanelli beat the touring Australians in 1908, the New Zealand All Blacks in 1972 and the Australians (then World Champions) in November 1992.

Llanelli was the undisputed “Cup King of Wales”, lifting the Welsh Cup twelve times in seventeen appearances in the final. In the 1992-93 season the club won the Best Team in Britain Trophy after achieving the unique treble of winning the league, capturing the cup and beating the Wallabies.

In July 2003 the “Llanelli Scarlets” Region was founded from the original Llanelli RFC, when Welsh elite rugby was restructured. The Scarlets officially represent the whole of West and North Wales and plays in the Magners League and Heineken Cup whereas the club side, our opposition on Saturday, plays in the Welsh Premiership and currently stands in sixth place, having played eighteen, won nine, drawn two and lost seven matches.

Notwithstanding the glories of the past, Llanelli presently shares with Moseley the bottom two places in Pool C of the B & I Cup:

           P W D L. BP Pts Pos
Llanelli 3 0 1 2 3 3 5th

Moseley 2 0 0 2 1 1 6th


For Moseley the B&I Cup has provided some welcome relief for some of our senior players and the opportunities for many of our fringe and developing players to get valuable game time and stake their claims to future places in the team. The fixture at Aberavon on Tuesday provided just such an opportunity with only one regular starter in the opening XV and a spirited performance in dreadful conditions.

The match will also take Moseley’s mind off the last Saturday’s “encouraging defeat” in the RFU Championship at Exeter and the faint possibility that, by beating Bristol (the league leaders) at home on 13th March, our club could squeeze into eighth spot above Plymouth, if the Albion fails to win at Doncaster.


Whatever the result this Saturday though, there will undoubtedly be a great re-union and an entertaining game played in the traditional attractive style. Whatever the result there will also undoubtedly be “grossly exaggerated and suitably edited” stories in the bar afterwards of deeds done in games gone by between our two great clubs.

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