Saturday afternoon didn’t seem the same. No Pontypool rugby - just me, the couch, and the TV set. A mighty successful and enjoyable season for Pooler is over. Other teams still have a lot to play for though.
My first thoughts were for our friends and rivals at Newbridge. They had to get a point out of their visit to Narberth to be sure of their place in the Championship next season. I was delighted that they did it in style and recorded a thumping win. The Gwent representation in the Championship would certainly have been pretty sparse without them.
I tuned in to the European Champions Cup semi-final between Munster and Saracens expecting a close thing. In the end, Munster seemed rudderless without Connor Murray and were overpowered by Saracens whose stronger set of replacements took the game away from the Irishmen in the last quarter. Apparently around a quarter of the Lions’ squad were on view in this match and I guess the way the Saracens play might give us a clue as to how the Lions will play. The Saracens were streetwise and ruthless with possibly five of the Lions’ test pack in their ranks and Farrell directing operations at 10. Not pretty but mighty effective.
A lot has been spoken and written about the make-up of the Lions’ squad. In particular about there being twelve Welshmen and only two Scotsmen when Scotland beat Wales in the Six Nations this year. I think the Scots capitulation against England might be a better yardstick to use where the Scots were found wanting when the pressure came on away from home. In a lot of cases the margins in selection must have been mighty close and I am sure it is not a question of bias as Gatland is as pragmatic as they come. Good to see the Pontypool connection with the Lions is still going strong with Faletau and the Vunipola brothers in the touring party. Let us hope that there are no injury problems before the tour and the squad pull together and take it to the All Blacks. They will need a lot of skill plenty of good fortune if they are to prevail.
Congratulations to RGC 1404 for winning the WRU National Cup. This time last year RGC 1404 and Pontypool were locked in a battle for the last promotion place in the Premiership. It demonstrates once again what a good thing promotion/relegation is.
Have a great summer all you Pooler fans.