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Welsh rugby launches hunt for new facemask design

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The Welsh Rugby Union has partnered with Welsh Government to launch a competition to find a new design for a facemask to be worn by Wales men’s, women’s, and U20’s teams during the 2022 Guinness Six Nations championships.

The competition comes as the WRU partners with Wales’ #KeepWalesSafe campaign following confirmation that home fixtures will be played at the Principality Stadium in front of crowds.

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The competition is open to anyone in Wales under 17. The winning design will be selected by Wales’ rugby stars and worn by the Welsh squads during the Six Nations. The winner will also receive free tickets to see their sporting heroes in action on the field.

Wayne Pivac’s side will be looking to seal back-to-back titles in the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, for only the second time since the 1970s. Their title chase will begin out in Dublin against Ireland on 5th February, with home games in Cardiff against Scotland, Italy and France either side of a trip to Twickenham to face England towards the end of February.

Meanwhile, the Women’s Six Nations Championships have a stand-alone slot in the calendar with Wales’ first game against Ireland scheduled for the 26th March, with each round of fixtures following the same order as the senior men’s team.

Wales Team Manager, Martyn Williams said: “It’s been a tough time for everybody, but it is important that we all play our part in keeping each other and Wales safe. Wearing a mask is something simple we can all do, and we’re looking forward to seeing the designs come through from our young supporters.”

“We hope the upcoming Six Nations will provide an opportunity to put a smile back on the face of the nation and having supporters back in the stadium is very important to the squad who will be excited to feel the full force of the country behind them.”

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“Throughout this year’s Six Nations follow the latest guidance in Wales to help look after yourself, your friends, family and the community.”

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “Despite the challenges we have all had to face during the pandemic, Welsh rugby is still a highlight for many people and the Six Nations tournament will provide welcome relief for many as Wales aims to repeat last year’s successes.

“This partnership will help provide a much-needed reminder to everyone in Wales of how we can all help disrupt the transmission of COVID-19 by wearing a mask to protect people around you, get vaccinated to help prevent serious illness and to get tested and self-isolate so your loved ones and teammates stay safe.”

The competition will close on 7th February, 2022. To enter the design a face mask competition, you need to email a photo of your artwork using the competition form at wru.wales to competition@WRUfacemasks.com with the subject heading Wales Face Mask Competition along with your details.   The competition winner will be notified by email within five days of the deadline.

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Charity

Ospreys star helps kick off mental health awareness week activities

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As Action for Children marks Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), the charity recently celebrated its Bouncing Back Plus mental health partnership with Ospreys in the Community with a huge event at the Academy of Sport in Llandarcy.

Hundreds of primary school children joined the celebrations and were treated to rugby sessions, craft workshops, music therapy and mental health classes with Ospreys star, Lloyd Ashley.

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The charity teamed up with the rugby region’s community arm over the autumn and spring terms to deliver a combination of classroom-based Cognitive and Dialectical behavioural therapy (CBT and DBT) techniques and physical exercises such as touch rugby on the playground.

Bouncing Back Plus has become increasingly important as recent Action for Children research showed nearly a third of children across UK (32%) said that school does not provide enough emotional support for them with 28% of parents agreeing.

The children the charity polled in Wales were the least satisfied with support received in schools with 28% saying they received a great or good amount of practical support and only a quarter (25%) reporting getting the same level of emotional support.

Primary school kids from the Ospreys region enjoying craft sessions

Caryl Dyer manages the Bouncing Back Plus programme for Action for Children in the region and said: “The celebration was wonderful. We wanted to run an event to celebrate the success of the programme as we’ve worked with 15 primary schools and almost 800 children in 6 months. The programme is critical for the mental health and wellbeing of our primary school children especially in light of the Covid-blighted period they have been through.

“We wanted to invite everyone along and enjoy a bit of normality and the elements of mental wellbeing and physical exercise in lots of different workshops. It’s been a roaring success working with Ospreys in the Community, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” she added.

Holly, 11, from Coed Hirwaun Primary School enjoyed the celebration and said: “It’s been really good and a lot of fun. We did lots of activities and I really liked doing ‘capture the flag’ and making stress balls.”

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Tyler, also 11, from Pontlliw Primary School, added: “The day was fun, I enjoyed the rugby and the stress ball class. I enjoyed all of it, really.”

The children enjoyed a host of physical exercise activities as well as wellbeing sessions

At the end of each Bouncing Back Plus programme, each participant receives a Mental Health First Aid Kit, providing them with resources that support them to manage their mood and sustain improvements in their emotional wellbeing. The process also supports us to identify those young people who may need a higher-tier intervention.

Tom Sloane, Foundation Manager at Ospreys in the Community, said: ‘It’s really good to see that this programme is around supporting kids, building confidence, resilience and supporting mental health and wellbeing through physical and emotional sessions.

“The celebration ties off the last two years really nicely and it’s great to do that in partnership with Action for Children.

“It’s a really positive relationship we’ve got as official charity partners and we’re looking forward to the next year working together as this programme grows and hopefully, we can help even more children.’

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Port Talbot junior rugby club receives camera funding boost

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A junior rugby club in Port Talbot has secured a grant to purchase a high-tech camera to film training sessions and matches.

Taibach RFC U15s has secured £1,000 through the Persimmon Community Champions scheme.

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The club will use the cash to purchase a Veo Sports Camera to record the rugby action, allowing the team to analyse games, study fitness levels and improve their skills, both as individuals and as a team.

Rob Shaw, of Taibach RFC U15s, said: “It’s a real thrill to receive this funding from Persimmon Homes.

“There are many benefits of having a state-of-the-art camera at the club. Firstly, it’ll be used to look back at our sessions and matches so that we can help the young people improve their skills.

“It will also add intrigue and help to keep players motivated, which will have positive physical and social impacts.

“We plan to allow the players to operate and use the software so they improve their digital skills.

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“A former Taibach player is now head analyst for the Australian rugby team. We want the players to develop their aspirations while enjoying the game.”

Rob said that a number of nearby rugby clubs had recently folded and that Taibach RFC was determined to continue growing its junior section.

Sharon Bouhali, sales director at Persimmon Homes West Wales, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support Taibach RFC U15s through our Community Champions scheme.

“Rugby, like other sports in South Wales, is struggling a little bit, which is a real shame.

“It’s great to see Taibach RFC looking at different ways to engage young people and encourage them to keep playing, as well as developing skills they’ll be able to use in the future.”

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Persimmon is currently building new homes at Awel Afan in Aberavon, where the first homes are due to be released for sale soon.

(Lead image: Persimmon Homes)

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Rugby

Castell Howell and Swansea Arena to sponsor Swansea University for Welsh Varsity

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Welsh food wholesaler Castell Howell and the new Swansea Arena will be the principal sponsors for Swansea University at this year’s Welsh Varsity returns.

Both sponsors will feature on the men’s and women’s rugby jerseys for their respective matches against Cardiff University this week.

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Their sponsorship will also see representatives presenting the Varsity jerseys to both the men’s and women’s squads ahead of the showpiece event, as well as dual campus digi-screen advertising.

The Welsh Varsity is a week-long festival of sport with students competing in more than 30 sports including swimming, golf, football, netball, hockey and fencing and this year Swansea University is delighted to be hosting activities.

Most events will take place at the University’s Swansea Bay Sports Park on Wednesday, April 27, culminating in the men’s rugby match at the Swansea.com Stadium later that night.

The men’s and women’s rugby matches will be available live online via S4C Clic as well as at Rygbi Pawb Facebook Live & S4C’s YouTube channel. They will also be streamed live on the University’s Facebook page.

Swansea University Varsity 2022 Women’s Rugby Squad (Image: Adrian White)

The Welsh Varsity is the second biggest Varsity event in the UK behind Oxford and Cambridge and is keenly supported by thousands of students from both universities.

Cardiff currently hold both the Welsh Varsity Shield and Cup, following their victories in 2019 so Swansea will be eager to take on this year’s challenge on home turf.

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Swansea University Head of Development and Engagement Rachel Thomas said: “The Welsh Varsity has always been a greatly anticipated event in the University calendar, but after a two-year break this one will be particularly special to everyone taking part and cheering on their teams.

“We are delighted to have the support of both Castell Howell and Swansea Arena helping us welcome back the Welsh Varsity in style and create a truly memorable occasion for everyone involved.”

Castell Howell Foods  is Wales’s leading independent food service wholesaler, servicing Wales, the border counties and South West of England. Its founder Brian Jones said: “We are committed to supporting the communities we serve, helping to promote opportunities for young individuals to gain experiences to develop many of the skills they need to succeed.

“The Welsh Varsity is a calendar event for students across South Wales, and we wish all athletes, competitors and supporters the best of success on this important day.”

Swansea Arena is South Wales’s newest multi-purpose entertainment and events space and hosted the University’s graduation ceremonies earlier this month.

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Venue director Lisa Mart: “As one of the principal sponsors of the 2022 Varsity rugby match, we are thrilled to be associated with Swansea University and the values for which it stands.

“The Swansea Arena team is committed to connecting with the people of our city at this time of wonderful change, and through our sponsorship of this highly competitive and fun day, we hope to engage and inspire everyone with the opportunities and experiences that a custom-built live entertainment venue can offer.”

Lead image: Swansea University Varsity 2022 Men’s Rugby Squad (Image: Adrian White)

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