January 2011

 2011 – Bring It On

Vince NolanAs we anticipate what lies ahead in 2011 we will be looking back to our formation as a rugby club in 1886.  This means that 2011 is our 125th year as I have mentioned in previous articles.  I am sure the founding forefathers of the club drawn from St.Peter’s In the Fields (as St.Peter’s church in Roath was originally known) could not possibly have dreamt that their club would be thriving so far into the future.  I must say that it is hard to imagine the club being around for the next 125 years into 2136 but I would not bet against it just yet.

The history of the Club has been well documented but our greater interest now lies in what the future brings.  We are realists and know that the next chapter will be fraught with difficulties which will probably be centered on the financial necessity of raising sufficient revenue to stay afloat.  We are in the process of signing a 99 year lease with Cardiff City Council for the ground and so that will stretch away into the future.  We would like to improve the playing facilities to include a spectator stand and an all-weather training facility but this will not happen in the forseeable future unless the Lottery Gods are smiling on us.  In the current economic climate survival is the key motivator and the banks are famously reluctant to invest money in sporting organisations which they see as having a high-risk profile.  We will continue to look to the Welsh Rugby Union, key sponsors and our members to maintain their generous support in the times ahead.

Much is made of the word community and indeed this publication is aimed at a local community in Cardiff.  It is our firm view that our role is to continue to be a major contributor to community activities.  I am delighted that, as a direct result of the previous article I wrote in this magazine, we have commenced a dialogue with our near neighbours at Parkminster Church who are keen to find ways of working together to achieve common aims within the community.  We welcome the opportunity of doing so.  Once again this underlines the real (and ecumenical) aims of our club – rugby being only one aspect of our activities.

A fine example of the spirit that has been engendered within our players followed the recent horrendous injury to one of our 1st Team players Luke Gibson.  He suffered a badly broken leg just before Christmas which required an operation to insert a number of pins and a plate to hold his leg together.  Within 3 weeks he took a youth training session from the comfort of a deckchair and crutches.  An unusual style of coaching I grant you and probably not one that Warren Gatland will want to follow.  However, what a positive attitude from a player who could be forgiven for wanting to be as far away from a rugby pitch as possible.

As you might imagine there have been many incidents on Club Tours over the years that have now passed into folklore.  Some true, some never to be repeated and some unprintable.  However, I was reminded recently by my father who at 90 years of age is probably the oldest Club member, of the exploits of his great friend Ted Reavy who alas is no longer with us.  Ted was a proud Irishman who came over during the war to join the RAF and never went home again having the great good sense to marry a Welsh girl.  Bizarrely this feat was repeated many years later by his son Eamon who having gone on the Club Tour to Newcastle, met a girl, got married and never came back to Cardiff.  Ted was a rear gunner in Wellington bombers during the war and completed many missions over Germany.  This fearless approach was carried onto the rugby pitch and the same bravado could occasionally be seen off the pitch.  Picture the scene, the Club is on tour in Cork in Ireland in the early 1950’s with wives and girlfriends (tours must have been very different in those days) and Ted decided to hire a car to show some team mates where he grew up.  All went well apart from the fact that he did not have a driving licence which seemed a minor detail to the hire company.  After 3 days of driving around country lanes at breakneck speeds which would put Toad from The Wind in the Willows to shame, Ted handed the car back.  The hugely relieved owner of the car hire company sheepishly asked him if he could hazard a guess as to the wherabouts of the car bonnet.  Apparently, it had fallen off at some point which went unnoticed, was never recovered and to this day is probably somewhere in a field in County Cork rusting away quietly.

Finally, since it is a New Year I thought a joke for January would be appropriate.  Our Club used to be so poor that we once ran a dating agency for poultry.  It was the only way we could make hens meet!   Sorry.

Have a Happy and Prosperous 2011
Vince Nolan

February 2011

125 Not Out

Vince Nolan

Many readers may be rejoicing about the England and Wales cricket triumph Down Under (yes that’s right – it IS the England and Wales Cricket Board but you could be forgiven for thinking it was an all-England show).  We are doing some rejoicing of our own because as mentioned previously, St.Peter’s RFC is now celebrating its 125th year.  We recently marked the occasion with a youth match against Cardiff and the Vale District Youth Rugby team which was narrowly won by the District side in a closely contested game.

For the uninitiated, the Cardiff and Vale District Youth Rugby Union is the umbrella organisation for the area and meets on a monthly basis at Cardiff Arms Park.  Each club within the district sends along a representative and pressing issues are debated and taken forward to a monthly Welsh Rugby Union meeting which brings together the other 7 Districts from across Wales.  This is an unusually transparent and democratic process which some of our politicians would do well to copy – a real coalition in operation.  There are 15 youth rugby teams affiliated to the Cardiff and Vale District who play in an organised league structure.  I mentioned in the last article that we have introduced a ‘Good Behaviour’ trophy which will be won by the team with the fewest red and yellow cards issued during the season.  This table is compiled monthly and as at 31 October 2010, only 5 yellow cards had been issued during 52 matches played.  This says much about the quality of the referees and the coaching staff of all the clubs who maintain a high standard of discipline on and off the pitch.  The WRU is considering rolling this out across Wales next season to the other 160 youth teams.  The youngsters of today are often criticised for disciplinary problems but at least local clubs are doing their best to make a positive contribution in this key area.

I have also discussed in previous articles the diverse nature of many of the activities carried out on a regular basis at our Club.  We recently hosted another local PACT meeting which is fast becoming a welcome and regular event for us.  What is that I hear you ask?  Partnerships and Communities Together (PACT) meetings are designed to give residents the opportunity to highlight the community issues that are having an impact on their quality of life and can then help to decide issues and priorities.  These meetings are held by the local neighbourhood policing team and Councillors, residents and other stakeholders like ourselves have the opportunity to debate pressing local issues.  South Wales Police or a member of the local authority chair the meetings but the goal is that a member of the community takes this position as PACT meetings are for the community to be empowered.  Our facilities provide the ideal location for these meetings and also help de-bunk any lingering doubts anyone might have about the importance we attach to our community role.

Our latest addition is the availability of Pilates classes at the Club.  I understand that this is an exercise method designed to elongate, strengthen and restore the body to balance. This is based upon an anatomical understanding of the body’s muscular and skeletal systems.  Classes will focus on specific areas individually whilst using exercises that integrate the whole body to re-educate and restore it to optimum muscular and skeletal function……..Sounds timely following the Christmas over-indulgence but if you don’t fancy that what about a Zumba class or perhaps a more traditional dance class is your thing? ……. All available at the rugby club.

Traffic congestion continues to be monitored closely by our Committee particularly on Sundays when a number of our junior sides entertain visiting teams and the three local churches mean that The Minsters can be a busy place for a few hours.  We always ask all visitors to park sensibly and have permanent reminders on our website and match-day programme for visiting supporters.

Predictions for 2011 – I think we can safely leave that to others but it would be nice to see Wales win the 6 Nations Championship and the Rugby World Cup beating the All Blacks on their own turf in the final.  In keeping with most of you I suspect that this is about as likely as any of us winning the lottery but “you gotta be in to win it!”

Vince Nolan
St.Peter’s RFC Youth Secretary

March 2011

Not for Profit is Hard Work

Vince NolanI have used this page in previous months to describe some of the many activities that a not-for-profit organisation like ours needs to be engaged in to try to remain afloat. You could be forgiven for thinking that rugby takes a back seat sometimes. Whisper it quietly, (and not to the players), but there are times when it has to be of secondary importance. So by way of redressing the balance, our 1st XV have hit something of a rich patch of form and lie very close to the top of their division and are sneaking up on promotion. The Second XV has only lost 3 matches this season so far and has had its ranks swelled by the presence of a number of students who are live locally and have become an important part of the Club. The Youth team beat Penarth Youth last Saturday to register their first league win of the season. Once again, the junior teams are all very successful and have provided many players for the various Cardiff Blues and Schools age groups who also use our facilities for training.

One of the major issues facing rugby clubs in particular is trying to maintain excellent facilities all year round whilst having a main income for only 7-8 months each year. For example, we have nearly 10 acres of playing fields which we fenced off at our own expense and which we are struggling to maintain. It may surprise you to know that the cost of doing so exceeds £1,000 per month and this is before we have to pay ever-increasing utility bills. Soccer clubs throughout the City do not seem to have the same issues since the majority of them run from pubs where they have little or no overheads. Rugby clubs have taken a different approach historically and despite the costs, have substantial assets which are seldom properly utilised.

We recently formed a sub-committee headed by Paul Ring to advertise and promote our facilities and to try to utilise the Club more during the daytime when most of the members are in work. Already there has been quite a diverse demand. A Bridge Club is interested in using the Club. Apparently, Bridge is becoming a very popular past time with take-up levels rising at an unprecedented rate. We have also booked a Summer Rugby School which will be run by a New Zealand Maori coaching team. This will take place over a week in August to educate school children in the Maori culture and to teach them All Black training methods and approaches to rugby.

The continuing financial pressure on Government Departments and Councils is beginning to have an effect UK-wide on their abilities to provide public services particularly those related to the leisure industry. This is not a political soapbox but the Westminster Government would do well to stop talking about the Big Society and have a look at what organisations like ours currently contribute to local society. For example, we provide sport for over 300 youngsters most weekends and they would otherwise be slumped in front of their computer screens or TV’s, or worse. The forthcoming probable closure of Eastern Leisure Centre will mean that hundreds of people every week will no longer be engaging in the much needed exercise programmes that they currently follow. Perhaps these sorts of problems can present opportunites to organisations like ours who have under-utilised but significant facilities. Leisure facilities represent a long term investment in the health of our community and we are keen to play our part.

Back to rugby. The Welsh teams’ unpredictability continues to baffle anyone who knows anything about the sport. Having narrowly lost to a poor English team they put in a 40 minute perfomance against Scotland that nobody had forecast. So what price a win in Rome? Who knows, but the major excitement within our Club at present is the forthcoming trip to Paris to watch Wales play France and for our tourists to play against French opponents. I believe it will be the 16th match between our Club and Barbarians Rugby Champagne from Soissons. Over the years we have become great friends with our French chums because it is not very often that you come across a French team who are not very good. The trip was originally made by coach and Channel ferry and overnight. As players became older and wiser the plane took over and now the latest iterration is the Eurostar which was recently described by one of our stalwarts as a mobile bar. A party of 30 will be leaving Cardiff on St.Patrick’s Day (17th March) and spending 3 uneventful nights in the City of Romance. I will of course be going along as an observer to ensure that the highest standards of decorum are maintained throughout the journey!

Vince Nolan
St.Peter’s RFC
Youth Secretary

April 2011

Allez Les Rocks

In last month’s issue I reported that 30 Club members were about to go on a 4 day trip to France to play against a French team and to watch Wales take on the mighty and recently humbled French Cockerels.   I can report a 1-1 draw with St.Peter’s maintaining our proud record of victory on French soil.  We have offered Mr Gatland some advice on how to achieve this with a degree of regularity.  Alas, his reply was unprintable.  Whilst there are of course unwritten rules which state that “what goes on tour stays on tour”…….probably an early version of a confidentiality agreement, I have observed that this phrase is usually uttered by those who are incapable of doing anything they might later come to regret due either to a general incompetence or a serious incapacity fuelled by the old vin rouge.  Unfortunately though, the digital age is upon us and photographic evidence from phones can be sent all around the world via the net in the blink of an eye.  This makes it difficult for the guilty to mount a suitable defence when the evidence is plain for all to see.  I have found that the only way to prevent such paparazzi-type intrusions on trips like this is of course to compile a dossier on all tourists which can be used as a general bargaining-chip to maintain anonymity for all.  

You will observe from the cheesy photographs below that a match was played in Paris and that the tour party seemed suitably happy with their lot.  We have also adopted a French cocktail in our Club colours……a somewhat vivid green, known as Le Perroquet (the parrot).  None of us is sure of its contents but it renders the drinker a brighter shade of green than the drink itself, which is a neat trick.   

In our absence, a St.Peter’s XV played a Cardiff and District Select XV as part of our 125thyear celebrations and narrowly lost but the side was quite badly depleted because of the French tourists. 

I have talked in the past about the diverse nature of activities held at the Club and its place at the centre of the local community.  The flyer overleaf was recently delivered to thousands of homes in the area.  As a result, Tenovus Cancer Charity are going to hold an “It’s a Knockout” fundraising event for the whole community on Saturday June 18th from 11am until 4 pm.  They are hoping to recruit 18 teams of 10 participants, but if there is enough interest will have the option to increase this to 24 teams.  If you want to put a team in please let us know.

This is another example of how we wish to open up our facilities to the many rather than the few and across diverse organisations and groups.  Please feel free to contact the number below if you wish to book our facilities. 

In our absence, a St.Peter’s XV played a Cardiff and District Select XV as part of our 125thyear celebrations and narrowly lost but the side was quite badly depleted because of the French tourists. 

I have talked in the past about the diverse nature of activities held at the Club and its place at the centre of the local community.  The flyer overleaf was recently delivered to thousands of homes in the area.  As a result, Tenovus Cancer Charity are going to hold an “It’s a Knockout” fundraising event for the whole community on Saturday June 18th from 11am until 4 pm.  They are hoping to recruit 18 teams of 10 participants, but if there is enough interest will have the option to increase this to 24 teams.  If you want to put a team in please let us know.

This is another example of how we wish to open up our facilities to the many rather than the few and across diverse organisations and groups.Please feel free to contact the number below if you wish to book our facilities.

Vince Nolan
St. Peter’s RFC Youth Secretary

May 2011

And Now The End is Near

Vince NolanI hope that over the last few editions I have been able to provide some insight for readers into what makes an organisation like ours tick both on and off the pitch.  Whilst I may have been fortunate to hog the limelight through these short articles this should not overshadow the dozens of unseen volunteers that turn up in all winds and weathers to support our Club.

We have circa 400 members, most of whom play an active role with everything from litter collection to preparing meals, cleaning, fund raising and managing the business aspects of the Club.  By far and away the biggest contribution comes from rugby related matters where each of our teams has its own coaching staff, referee, first aider and parent chauffeurs.  A regular green and black army who carry out their tasks for no reward other than to see the organisation thrive and their youngsters do well.  It is about rugby but it is also about teaching teamwork and social skills which are transferable into the real world.  Well done to all of you.

Always quick to try and maximise the skills of our people, we are in the process of developing a database of members with specific trades or expertise which can then be interrogated by other members to provide the skills or services they are looking for.  We may widen this to the website and general access.  You would probably not be surprised that we have a number of electricians, heating engineers, motor mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, scaffolders, builders, UPVC window and door manufacturers but you probably would not have known that we also have a Professor of Microbiology, Rose Cooper, who is leading research into the antibiotic properties of Manuka honey.  As you all know, Manuka honey comes New Zealand, home of the All Blacks which brings us full-circle back to rugby matters.  Rose is no stuffy academic either and was once again our honorary lady tourist to Paris this year accompanied her husband Johnny Deux-Litres (not his real name). 

At present our First XV sit well placed in third position in Swalec League Division 3 (South East) with games to come against two sides placed below us in Taffs Well and Llandaff North plus an away match at high-flying Abercynon.  This latter game may well decide our fortunes for the season.  At the other end of the scale our under 12’s narrowly lost this week in the Cardiff Blues Cup against Pontypridd RFC at Cardiff Arms Park.  Despite the result it was a great achievement for the lads and their coaches and it is something they will not forget in a hurry and should be rightly proud of.  On a seperate note 7 of our youth team recently represented Cardiff and Vale Youth District Rugby Team in the Wynne Lewis (Pan-Wales) Inter-District Cup. 

This time of year with dry weather and sunshine (remember that?) always makes me happy that I no longer play rugby.  The pitches are becoming quite bare and hard and most players are now sporting a series of cuts and abrasions as a result of this.  We are beginning to wind down our rugby activities in preparation for a well earned rest on-the-pitch.  However, off- the-pitch will now see a flurry of activity as preparations are made for pitch enhancements, pre-season training sessions and a major approach to our generous sponsors, once again, to persuade them to continue to support us in the coming season.  This time of year is also when we implement our plans for keeping the revenue coming in as numbers using the Club inevitably fall away during the Summer months.  One suggestion has been to encourage those that continue to use the Club to drink more.  However, this was quickly dismissed.  We have 12 months of overheads and an 8 month revenue stream for the most part so we would encourage all members to use our facilities throughout the Summer.  We have ladies and mens baseball teams and a mens cricket team so we are hopeful that we can keep the tills ringing. 

One of our ex-players and Afghanistan and Iraq Veteran, Chris Newton, has just started Boxercise classes at the Club on Tuesdays 6pm-7pm.  This is open to the public and is one of the best aerobic workouts you can have.  We expect to see a number of our players taking part once the season finishes.  

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or by e-mail: admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk  

Our website can be found at: www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

 Vince Nolan
 Youth Secretary
St.Peter’s RFC

June 2011

The Pebbles are the Future

Vince NolanThe future of our organisation rests very firmly in the hands of our Junior Section, something I have emphasised in a number of recent articles.  It is interesting to note that some rugby clubs locally do not have junior teams.  I realise that this requires a great deal of hard work by parents and “willing volunteers” but we would strongly argue that it is storing up serious issues of continuity and viability for those clubs in the years to come.  Our Juniors’ are exceptionally well run by knowledgable coaches and parents where teamwork, discipline and fun are the key ingredients.  We would not have a Club without them and our continued thanks and congratulations go to all of them.  A short summary of their achievements is given below.

Our Junior Section known informally as “The Pebbles” (little Rocks) have just completed another highly successful season. The under 7’s and 8’s played numerous games of tag rugby (non-contact) and many of them are now well prepared to move onto tackling next season.  Some were pretty keen to launch right it into contact in their first year but had to be restrained! The under 9’s finished the season very strongly with an appearance in the final of the Cardiff and Vale District Tournament and then won a tournament in Abergavenny.

Continuing the above theme, the under 10’s had another successful season without adding to their trophy cabinet whilst the under 11’s produced some great results before losing narrowly in their cup to a good Ystrad Rhondda side.  The under 12’s starred in their cup final at the Arms Park narrowly losing to Pontypridd late in the game.  Compensation came from their winning the Cardiff and Vale District Tournament earlier in the season. The under 13’s were not burdened with trophies either and nor were the under 14’s but both squads showed great promise and worked hard adding some promising new recruits along the way.

Under 15 and under 16 age groups provide representative rugby opportunites with Cardiff Schools and the Blues Region and this can be a double-edged sword for the clubs.  On the one hand everybody wants these sides to do well and to be stacked with their players but it can mean that less club rugby is played or is played to a lower standard because of this.  This has been the case since I turned out for Cardiff Schools way back in the 1974-75 Season and not much has changed.  We were good though, very good and now I am coaching the sons of boys I played with then……….tempus fugit and all that.  Despite these representative challenges our under 15’s won a strong 7-a-side tournament which they hosted and went on to win a 10-a-side tournament in Bristol where remarkably, they entered two teams and played each other in the final!  The under 16s finished the season on a high, winning a strong tournament at Abergavenny.

It may surprise many readers that competition is introduced to Juniors at such a young age.  It is easy to argue the merits or demerits of doing so but this is part of the Welsh Rugby Union’s Pathway strategy which moves year groups along a clearly defined path from a highly controlled environment for the youngest into a more competitive and recognisable version of the game by the time they join the youth team at 16 years of age.  All of this sounds a bit heavy and where is the enjoyment you may say?  Well, I would simply suggest you come along on a Sunday morning in the season and watch 200+ youngsters enjoying themselves away from computer screens, fast food and texting each other.  They are not press-ganged into playing and keep coming back for more.  Roll on next season for the young “Pebbles”.  New players of all ages are most welcome.  Please see the website for details.

Both our 1st XV and 2nd XV finished third in their respective leagues and there is a real optimism about next season.  At the time of writing our 2nds are in the East District Cup Final and will play UWIC whilst our 1sts are in the equivalent first team competition semi-final and will Llantwit Major.  Who knows, they may both need to have another shelf installed in the trophy cabinet.

I have banged on in the past about the community we are part of and the diverse role and responsibility we feel we have within that community.  This no better illustrated than last Friday when it came to our notice via the internet that a large group of 16 year olds with no affiliation to our Club had just finished school and planned to assemble on our pitches to have a major alcholol-fuelled celebration.  This happenned last year and we picked up 12 bin bags of bottles and cans, many of them broken in the aftermath of this.  We reported the matter to the local Police and let it be known what we had done via the internet.  I am pleased to report that there was no party although I believe the Echo ran a story about marauding youths in other parks across the City.  We will continue to ensure as best we can that the Harlequins Ground and our facilities are used properly by as wide a cross-section of the community as possible.

Finally, now that “election fever” has died down we must congratulate our new Assembly Member, Jenny Rathbone who has been a keen supporter of the Club and we look forward to continuing our relationship with her.

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or by e-mail: root@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Our website can be found at: www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Youth Secretary

July 2011


Vince NolanA snappy headline I think you will agree.  Of course you knew it was 1886, our founding year and a remarkable year in many ways.  As readers of this column will remember, we have just celebrated our 125th year as a rugby club.  We celebrated with a formal dinner and dance at the Millennium Stadium attended by over 250 informal dinner dancers.  I have always wondered about the wisdom of dinner-dances since food followed by vigourous exercise is not usually recommended.  However, no members were harmed in the making of this successful event and the judges at “Strictly Come Dancing” would not have been over-troubled by those who took to the floor.

Since our humble beginnings in 1886, and this being the Summer recess from rugby, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what was happening outside Cardiff in that year.  Workers in New York Harbour were constructing the Statue of Liberty.  Also in New York, the first dinner-jacket was worn at an event in Tuxedo Park.  John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist stirred up a fragrant, caramel-coloured liquid and carried it a few doors down to Jacobs’ Pharmacy.  Here, the mixture was combined with carbonated water and sampled by customers who all agreed that this new drink was something special and Coca Cola was born.   Not to be outdone, across the other side of the world in rugby playing Auckland, Anchor Butter put in its’ first appearance.  The Canadians then launched Heinz Beans in London whilst Grants Whisky and Yorkshire Tea also started in business.  A revolutionary car company, Mercedes Benz was founded by Karl Benz at this momentous time for commerce.

World events were also of some interest. Queen Victoria was given Burma as a birthday present.  History is silent on how it was actually given to her but one presumes the Burmese did not have much say in the matter.  These were also times of great change in the Catholic Church as Father Augustine Tolton became the first Catholic priest from the USA to proclaim himself African American at his ordination in Rome.  Doubtless spurred on by these momentous global events the Italian priests in St.Peters Parish founded a rugby club which is still going strong.  Whilst not perhaps on a par with the iconic brand names mentioned above the Rocks have been successful in our own way, for neither Mercedes, Heinz, Anchor  nor Coca Cola have ever beaten Cardiff RFC – but we have!

During the summer months St. Peter’s RFC does not close down on the sporting front, but turns its hand to the smaller ball. The Rocks Baseball is looking healthy once again this year and is growing from strength to strength with the inclusion of a second team in the first Division for the first time in over ten years.

Last year saw Josh Dunleavy become one of the youngest ever players to be selected in the Welsh B side as the opening Bowler to face England in Liverpool and he didn’t disappoint. Timmy Laurten of St. Peter’s captained of the B side.  The first team won the WBU cup beating local Cardiff East Rivals St Albans at Splott Park following which, both sides celebrated well into the night. There are not many other sports where that happens. This season has started well with four wins out of five for the first team and a good first win for the seconds.

The season is very short and lasts just over two and half months but the politics it creates on and off the field is unbelievable, fascinating and most of all fun. The game itself is played by a close knit community of players, but the door is always open to newcomers, and that’s probably why it creates so much interest and maybe that’s why we love the game so much.

I reported in a previous edition that Tenovus Cancer were to hold an “It’s a Knockout” fundraising competition at our facilities.  The good news is that this went ahead on Saturday 18th June. The bad news is that it poured down.  Undaunted, nine teams of ten competed for the trophy including teams from the Police, Boulders Climbing Centre and the Rugby Club.  The event was a great success and talks have already begun about making this an annual event for the Tenovus Charity.

All of which leads us nicely onto rugby matters.  This season we instigated a trophy for the best disciplined youth rugby team in Cardiff and the Vale.  This was based on the numbers of yellow and red cards given to a side during the course of the season as reported to the Welsh Rugby Union.  I am pleased to tell you that our youth team did not receive a single card of any colour last season.  We did not win the inagural trophy because our near neighbours Rumney Youth also had no cards but played one game more than us.  I understand that the Welsh Rugby Union is now considering introducing the competition across Wales for the coming season since it is one of the few ways of publically recognising good behaviour in 16-19 year olds who too often can receive a bad press.  Of course bad behaviour is not confined to 16-19 year old rugby players.  Without going into any details, senior players in the public eye have a duty to act as ambassadors for the sport.  It does not make our task any easier when trying to introduce a proper discplined and sporting approach to our younger players to have our stars headlining on the front pages of the tabloids instead of the back pages.

We will be holding our Annual Awards Presentation on 30 July at 6.30 at the Club when those players who have performed at a consistently high level will be recognised and provided with trophies as a reward for their efforts.  It may be that they will share a shandy or two as well.  Tuesday 19th July marks the start of pre-season training at the Club with a 6.30 start.  This will be a very light session, probably involving (whisper it quietly), some soccer.  This will be for youth and seniors and all new players will be made very welcome.

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Our website can be found at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Youth Secretary St.Peter’s RFC.

August 2011

The Smell of the Crowd and the Roar of the Liniment

Vince NolanWe live in strange times.  At the time of writing, the News International allegations and counter-allegations carry on unabated.  My only contact with journalism is via this article, once a month, but it seems to me that if somebody hacked into my phone and Dear Reader, I am not encouraging them to do so, as they would soon learn all about who is playing in our next match, what sponsors we have attracted this season and how we are going to pay the electricity bill.  I cannot see any of that being particularly newsworthy or of use to a rival Club but I might be wrong.  Who knows, if all the rugby secretaries were victims of hacking it could destabilise the price of liniment.  It is perhaps something of a regret that I have nothing worth hacking into.  Still, I remain optimistic that one day I will become privy to real news which I will of course sell to the highest bidder.

It may be deepest mid-Summer to you and the time of eagerly anticipated school holidays for the teachers, but rugby is upon us once again with pre-season training for our youth and senior teams having already started at 6.30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Harlequin’s Ground. New players are always welcome and new good players, particularly those of Maori descent, are even more welcome.  We have both senior and youth pre-season matches planned (see the website) in order to hone our guys into the peak of fitness after the long lay-off since the end of May!

Before we look forward to a Rugby World Cup and another 6 Nations campaign I wanted to remind readers that we have other Summer sports being played every week and have successful cricket, baseball and bowls teams within our organisation.  The baseball teams include ladies, mens and juniors.

This month we invited Vince Sullivan, our Bowls Secretary, to say a little about the Bowling Club.  Anyone called Vince will of course always be given priority in this column.  St Peter’s Bowling Club was formed almost 30 years ago. It was Friday, 19th November 1981 when the inaugural meeting was held in the front upstairs room at No. 9 Richmond Road (former Club premises owned by St.Peter’s Church).  This was of course a licensed premises and there are photographs of that early group.  By 1983, following a season of ‘Friendlies,’ the club entered the Cardiff & District League.  St Peter’s Bowls Club and St Peter’s Rugby Club have always had very close links, with several ex-rugby players joining the Bowls Club from the beginning.  Most of the early games were played at Howard Gardens and Hailey Park.  The Rugby Club subsequently moved to 118 Newport Road and then to Minster Road and the Bowling Club followed it.  It was to be many years – in fact the 2004 season – before they transferred to play at Roath Park and settled at the Green they now happily share with Fairoak Bowls Club.

If anyone reading this has never played bowls they could be forgiven for thinking it’s a game for gentle folks in the Autumn of their days.  This is not the case.  Whilst competition can be fierce there are seldom any yellow-card incidents or pulled hamstrings and the one big plus is that after a gruelling game the bowlers are free from aches and pains in stark contrast to their rugby and soccer playing days.  The banter though is just as intense as ever it was.  If you are interested in joining or would like to give it a try please contact Vince Sullivan on 029 2048 7133 or speak to any member of the Club.

To continue the non-rugby theme we have had some excellent news on the baseball field.  John Dunleavy our Club Rugby Coach was picked to play for Wales against England at Liverpool on 9th July and was on the winning side.  The Dunleavy sporting success continues as his two sons, Lewis and Josh have been picked to play baseball for Wales B against England B at Rumney RFC on 23 July.  Not to be outdone three of our juniors Ben Thomas, Conor Nagle and Josh Nolan (my nephew – but no biased reporting) have been picked to play for Wales Under 12 baseball team against England at Tremorfa Park on 24th July.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank a neighbour of ours who lives in Minster Road for letting us know that our burglar alarm was going off at an ungodly hour recently resulting in her new baby being woken up.  We apologise for the inconvenience caused to her and to all our neighbours but her quick action in phoning the non-emergency Police number 101 resulted in our key holder arriving at the premises with the Police to find that an attempted burglary had been thwarted.  Nobody likes burglar alarms, security cameras, movement sensitive lighting or indeed the gated lanes around the Minsters but unfortunately they are a necessary evil and do help to prevent crime.  This is why we, at St. Peter’s RFC, have spent so much money and time on security measures which help ensure that not only our premises but our surrounding community discourage criminal activity.  On this note, we are shortly due to host another Police And Communities Together Meeting. This will be advertised on the website at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk.

Just to finish off, the Club joke.  I told a mate that I had tried Pelican the other night in a new fusion restaurant which had just opened in Roath.  He asked me what it was like.  I said it was not very good… and it came with a large bill!

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Our website can be found at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Youth Secretary
St.Peter’s RFC

September 2011

Global Warming Must Have Taken the Wrong Turn

Vince NolanI know it is not politically correct to talk about sunbathing and clearly too much exposure to the sun’s rays is hugely damaging, but as a pale Northern European, of Irish descent, I have really forgotten what that golden globe up in the sky is all about.  Still, it’s only August!  Given the difficult times we live in it would be nice to be distracted by a decent period of sunshine.  I am not suggesting that there could be an economic benefit of achieving Mediterranean temperatures on a semi-permanent basis but it would take away the unbridled joy of playing Russian Roulette with the holiday location by trying to pick a destination whose economy is least likely to collapse within the next few weeks.

What has all this to do with rugby you may ask yourself Dear Reader?  Well, the Rugby World Cup is upon us and all eyes will turn to New Zealand where Wales will be pitched against the truly exotic teams of Samoa, Fiji, Namibia and South Africa.  Sport is so professional these days and so in order to acclimatise themselves, our heroes have been to a training camp in Poland and played a couple of games against England.  Nothing like keeping it real!  We wish them well in their endeavours and with 3 games on a Sunday and one on a Monday, family life in Wales should not be too disrupted.

Of course the weather has not really helped with our preparations for the new season but nevertheless turnout at pre-season training at the Club has been excellent and there has been a confident mood amongst the players and coaches.  We have just hosted a Cardiff Blues Under 16’s match which was very well attended and many parents remarked how much they liked the quality and ambience of our facilities.  We are also about to host a Youth Ten-a-Side competition with a number of Clubs from across South Wales due to attend.  Our 1st XV will kick-off their season at Aberdare with the 2nds hosting Llandaff and the Youth travelling across the City to Fairwater.  By the time the next edition of this magazine is printed I will be in a much better position to give you a view on what sort of season we are all likely to have.

Matters off the pitch are now firmly focussed on our attempts to make permanent a temporary agreement to extend our opening times on weekends to normal licensing hours.  This column is not designed to provide a soapbox to support our aspirations in this area as that will be pursued through the appropriate channels.  One of the most important supporters are the Police.  Nobody could fail not to be deeply concerned about the recent rioting experienced in other parts of the country and perhaps more so about the underlying reasons behind it.  Mercifully we have not experienced this in Cardiff but there are large numbers of disaffected youngsters locally.  One only has to look at the lanes around the Minsters to see that they have security gates to protect people and property.  This problem has been around for a very long time and of course has nothing to do with the rugby club.  However, we are very mindful of our responsibilities at the heart of our community and would strongly argue that by providing sport for over 300 youngsters from ages 7-19 we are doing something extremely positive and at our own expense to make a real difference to their lives and that of the community in which they live.  This is probably best summed up in recent written correspondence from our local Police who confirmed that “reports within the area have decreased significantly since the rugby club has been built and since you have increased your presence in the community”. Praise indeed, but there is no room for complacency on our part and we will continue striving to ensure that youngsters see our organisation and its people as a safe haven and a place to grow up in a family environment.

Enough of the heavy stuff but no doubt you can tell that we care passionately about what we are trying to do and will continue to invest our time, money and energies into achieving our goals.

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Our website can be found at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby
St.Peter’s RFC

October 2011

Lights, Camera…….Action! 

Vince NolanI mentioned in the last article that Channel 4 were due to film at our ground and indeed they went ahead with a comedy documentary starring comedian Jack Whitehouse (and some of our more photogenic players) to be screened in early November.  We now have a number of blokes looking for agents and Equity Cards.  My advice is to wait until it is broadcast boys.  If it is a success I will only charge 10% to represent you, if it is a failure, you shouldn’t have done it in the first place……that’s showbiz!  S4C have also been filming on our premises and the BBC will be using our facilities shortly for two Casualty programmes.  This has given us the opportunity to publicise our current planning predicament with the early closing regime and the broadcasters have been very supportive.  To continue the TV theme, one of our first team players, Luke Riordan, recently passed-out from The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where all Officers in the British Army are trained to take on the responsibilities of leading soldiers.  He was one of the reluctant stars in the recent Channel 5 documentary.  We are all very proud of him and in fact we currently have 3 players serving in the forces so in a small way are helping to turn out decent young men.  We have also found an ally in our former First Minister Rhodri Morgan and his wife Julie, a serving AM, whose grandson has started playing mini-rugby for one of our junior teams.

I suppose we had better mention the Rugby World Cup.  Whilst the nation is in mourning after our premature exit from the competition there are many positives to be derived from the experience.  Whilst not being a fan of referees, we cannot play without them and the letter of the law was applied in our Captain’s case.  I am sure that he is only too aware of an opportunity that has been lost.  Having said this we had 3 different kickers miss 4 shots at goal between them and still only lost to France by a point.  The worst excuse I heard over the weekend was that the Irish referee had a French father and this was why he sent our man from the pitch.  The same source also noted that the referee was speaking in French to the French team, something he saw as tantamount to heresy until I pointed out to him that Alain Rolland was a former Irish international scrum-half who had been chosen to officiate because of his bi-lingual skills.   I wonder what colour the sky is in some peoples’ world.  So what have we learnt from the World Cup experience:

  • Wales are good and we are proud of them.
  • Young players can make a significant contribution to the game and to the mood of the nation.
  • England were a poor and ill-disciplined rabble who would have shamed any club tour never mind a World Cup.

Staying with rugby, our 1st XV are sitting at the top of Division 3 following a series of remarkable victories and one bizarre defeat.  Following in the footsteps of the National Side we have blended a number of young players with some older heads and it is working.  There is no room for complacency though and come the Christmas break we will have a very good idea of how our season is going to pan-out.

Our petition remains open and on-line and I would urge you and your families to support us if you will by signing it as we strive to provide excellent community facilities for the use of all in the face of increasing opposition from a vociferous minority.  If you would like to support us in our endeavours to obtain the necessary permissions to stay open past 9 pm like all the other licensed premises in the area you can do so by signing our petition on our website at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk

I spotted a Councillor recently (an all too rare occurrence in Minster Road), hawking a petition in opposition to what we are trying to achieve.  It took some time for me to recognise him since he had an anorak done up to the neck, a hat pulled down over his eyes and a scarf around his mouth.  Unfortunately for him it was about 80 degrees at the time so his disguise was not the best.  I took a picture on my camera like an over-eager “twitcher” who had just discovered a rare feathered visitor to our shores.  I am afraid that his invitation to join MI5 is unlikely to come through unless he works a bit harder on his infiltration and evasion techniques.  I also found it quite sad. Not because there is minor local opposition to what we are trying to achieve but because of the nature of the campaign being waged against us and this is just another example.  Fortunately, we have a number of local residents who are Club members and who keep us and our legal team fully conversant with the facts. 

One can only hope that with all the positives to come from a young Wales rugby team still fresh in our memory that everyone realises that all those players started life in Clubs just like ours.  We have disenchanted and disenfranchised teenagers on the streets and at least we are trying to do something about this locally, are you?        

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail: adminadmin@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby
St.Peter’s RFC

November 2011

An end to the Cold War or Just a Slight Thaw?

Vince Nolan“This is not the end, nor is it the beginning of the end, but I think perhaps it is the end of the beginning”.  So said Winston Churchill in a famous speech to the House of Commons which described a first British victory over the Nazi regime.  Well, I would like to share with you our own “end of the beginning” which we experienced this week with the two Councillors who have thus far opposed our planning applications to stay open after 9pm on weekends.  We feel this is potentially a monumental turnaround and one perhaps worthy of comparison with the biblical conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.  Now I have your attention, please read on.    

To you poor readers who, having nothing better to do than to read my monthly scribblings, I previously told the strange story of spotting a heavily disguised Councillor “hawking a petition around the Minsters in opposition to our planning application to stay open after 9 pm on weekends”.  Following a recent positive and amicable meeting with the local Councillors I am able to tell you that the Councillor in question was not “hawking a petition” of any description.  He was merely informing residents of the details of our planning application which he assured us is part of his normal role as an elected local representative.  I am pleased to make this clear.  The news from the front is that both Councillors who have previously vehemently and vigorously opposed our planning applications have stated that they will not do so this time around and will not speak against us.  Unfortunately, they will not speak for us either but we feel that this statement from them will go a very long way to deliver what we have been seeking since before 2005 and we thank them for it. 

What have we been seeking you might ask?  Sometimes even I forget because this has been going on for so long and has cost us many thousands of pounds which would have been much better spent on developing the facilities for the youngsters and the wider community.  Very simply, all we want is to open past 9 pm on weekends at our discretion.  Cumulatively, this will only amount to a few hours of extra opening per week but this will make a significant difference to our ability to improve our cash flow.  All profits are reinvested in the facilities so this should be a “no-brainer”.  Changes to the planning conditions will not turn the Club into some kind of Bordello and whether you believe this or not, we are not going allow a reputation built since 1886 to be trashed by a handful of mindless idiots who cannot hold their drink.  The Police are supportive of our efforts and I think that says it all.  You may not have heard, since it did not make the papers, but the drink culture and rugby had a divorce many years ago both citing irreconcilable differences.  One has only to look at the way the Welsh team recently conducted itself at the World Cup in New Zealand to prove that this is the case.  At a more local level, many of our 18 year old youth players neither drink nor smoke and therefore changing the opening hours will not alter their behaviour one iota.  Good habits and good practice are infectious.

We will keep you posted on our planning application and will bring give you a fly-on-the wall report as it happens.  Will it be enthusiastic support or damning with faint praise?  In the meantime, on Friday 18th November, Cardiff Blues are due to play London Irish, kicking off at 8pm.  Why not come and see the first half with us at our Club, enjoy our facilities, savour the hospitality and then go home as the second half kicks off! 

Our petition remains open and on-line and I would urge you and your families to support us if you will by signing it as we strive to provide excellent community facilities.  If you would like to support us in our endeavours to obtain the necessary permissions to stay open past 9 pm like all the other licensed premises in the area you can do so by signing our petition on our website at www.stpetersrfc.co.uk  

I reported in the last article that Jack Whitehouse had filmed part of his new comedy series at our Club.  As a result of this, a small group of us were given VIP invites to attend the live filming of the show at Blaenavon Working Mens Club.  We were given the best seats in the house and then ritually humiliated by the screening of our film clip.  Ruth Jones, of Gavin and Stacey fame, was studio guest and a good time was had by all.  This is due to be screened in January on Channel 4 so watch this space.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot, what about some comments about rugby?  Well, at the time of writing the First and Youth XVs are still top of their respective leagues and the seconds are near the top of theirs.  We continue to have between 300-400 junior players coming to us every weekend from Denfa Davies’ Pebbles team (Little Rocks at 7 years of age) to our 19 year old Youth players.  We provide a friendly sporting environment for all and see this as major strength of being a cosmopolitan City Centre Club.  By way of example we are currently considering a request for a fixture with the Polish National Under 18 team and have been contacted by a Latvian international rugby player (our second) who is interested in joining us and working in Cardiff.  Such is the power of the internet (and our reputation).                    

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail: admin@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby
St.Peter’s RFC

December 2011

In the Bleak Mid-Winter

Vince Nolan

When Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol was first published on 17thDecember 1843 one assumes that his heart was full of hope that foolish folk in privileged positions could change their ways once they had witnessed at first-hand the plight of the poor and needy.  Nothing much has changed today but we call it making a difference.  Well, miracles can happen! There is a Santa Claus and people can change, or so I wanted to report to you with all the fervency that Bob Cratchett must have felt once Ebenezer Scrooge turned out to be a fairly decent geezer after all.  So guess what? Oh yes they did……..The Planning Committee of the Council agreed to a temporary relaxation of the condition which has prevented us opening our doors after 9 pm.  You have our grateful thanks, each and every one of you and in particular Councillor Kelloway, who was never on our Christmas list in the past but has just had an upgrade.  Our thanks also go out to the Editors of this Magazine, our AM, Jenny Rathbone and to all of you who signed our online petition.  As far as I can see the only down side is that I will have to write about something else in 2012 which is going to be a challenge. 

So let us talk of good cheer and my old friend Denfa Davies and his Junior Team.  I asked Denfa to pen some words about how he “volunteered” to run our youngest team.  This is a typical story of how suddenly and by a rugby version of osmosis, one finds oneself to be a Coach and responsible adult rolled into one. 

Denfa tells me that eighteen months ago, after a few beers (in a land far, far away within licensed premises which were open beyond 9pm), he was asked how old his son and heir was by our Head of Junior Rugby.  “Just coming up to five” he said with understandable pride. “Five?”, said our man, sucking on his pipe, (had he smoked one), “he will be playing for us soon then?”  “How old have they got to be to play?” Denfa replied, unknowingly already volunteering himself.  “I don’t know” our man lied.  “If they are big enough they’re old enough aren’t they?”  A few more enquiries and Denfa was appointed Coach of the Under 7’s.  Press-ganged at his time of life and many miles inland! 

Denfa now takes up the story.  “Thinking on my feet I said….. but they can’t play at such a young age, the WRU won’t allow it, no insurance; and they have to be 6 by September to be in the Under 7’s. Our sage who had heard all of this before suggested that if they just trained, learnt the basic skills and made a start, before long they would have grasped the rudiments of the game.  This sounded like a plan to me.  Kids love names or nicknames so what to call our brave young warriors, because they couldn’t be ‘Rocks’ officially (the Club nickname) as they were too young.  After some brain-storming of one minutes’ duration ‘The Pebbles’ were born.  Not quite Rocks, but nonetheless on their way to becoming a large outcrop of Carboniferous Limestone (don’t write in if Carboniferous Limestone doesn’t outcrop, ‘cos it does).  We started out on a Friday, with borrowed equipment, 6 boys and one girl turned up, mainly brothers of the under 8’s and 9’s.  A week later and resisting all attempts to advertise and be organised I turned up to see 25 kids aged three to five, in kit with parents swarming around looking for the Coach.  ‘Who`s Denfa?’ they cried.  More like Where’s Wally I thought to myself.  I figured that I could look after 25 of them with a bit of effort.  By week three we had 40 little darlings running around.  A couple of dads put their hands up to help (thus assuming the internationally accepted posture of those surrendering) and the Pebbles were there, part of the St Peters family, you know, the one our Councillors had previously tried to do away with (sorry that was Vince again….and we like them now). 

We are a year older since this kicked off, and playing in a higher age group.  We are all CRB checked and run two/ three teams with rolling subs.   Score a try and they are taken off for a rest.  We do not turn anybody away, boys or girls and just want them to be involved in a fun sport.  We train every Friday evening at 17.30 so if you have a talented potential Welsh International, great, but we also want participation at all levels of ability not just elite players. 

At the start of this season in a scene reminiscent of Cold Knap Beach after a high tide, Pebbles kept turning up and with them came three more dads, all new to the Club, all gullible, and all willing volunteers.  They now have 40 little darlings in their group and train on Sundays at 11am.  Within a season and a half we have eighty new boys and girls plus their mums and dads which equates to perhaps 140 new members.   Rugby brings with it our ethos which includes the finer points of life, rules, team working, organisation, respect, belonging and confidence.  What are we paid for all this effort?  Why nothing of course, it’s a vocation”. 

If you have any questions, issues or ideas please do not hesitate to contact us at the Clubhouse on 029 20 460461 or e-mail:  root@stpetersrfc.co.uk

Have a great festive break and we look forward to speaking again in 2012, Olympic Year, my new theme, well…….. someone’s for the high-jump!

Vince Nolan
Director of Rugby
St.Peter’s RFC