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Running events season kicks off to a great start

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Last night (Friday 22 April) saw South Wales’ leading race organiser set off their season of events with a bang. Front Runner Events held their prestigious event at the Swansea Area, a first for the city’s newest venue. 

Businesses, charities, and special guests from all over the UK were in attendance to help celebrate the return of mass participation running events.

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The team at Front Runner Events organise some of most-loved running events in Wales including the award-winning JCP Swansea Half Marathon and Cardiff Met Cardiff 10K.

In recent months the company has gone on to take over the Port Talbot Half Marathon which will be their first trail event in Glyncorrwg and will be bringing back the Brisco Gorseinon 10K which has been missing from the running calendar for over 20 years!    

The gathering celebrated the restarting of competitive running events now that coronavirus restrictions have eased

Guest speaker, Jimmy Watkins stole the show with his real-life talk about his personal journey going from elite British athlete to rock star who turned a corner to become the world-renowned Running Punk.

Not only was Jimmy the first person to speak at the Swansea Arena in a formal event, it was also the venue for his band Vega Bodegas who were the very first group to perform on stage at the venue.

Vega Bodegas playing at the launch event

David Martin-Jewell said: “It was fantastic to be able to bring together event supporters, friends and partners to celebrate the return of our events. This was the first time in over two years that we have been able to celebrate in this way, so it felt all the more special to share a wonderful evening amongst friends.”

Amy Seppman of JCP Solicitors added: “We were delighted as a team to join the Front Runner Events launch night ahead of the JCP Swansea Half Marathon this June. It has been wonderful to support the race organiser’s as headline sponsors of Wales’ biggest summer half marathon event for the last nine years.”

To find out more about the Front Runner Events and the whole series of races go to: www.frontrunnerevents.co.uk  

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Sport

New Townhill all weather-pitch is ready for kick-off

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A new all-weather pitch that will benefit thousands of players in the years to come has been fitted at the Phoenix Centre in Townhill.

Swansea Council provided the funding that also included an upgrade to the floodlights at the popular venue.

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The council is also improving the nearby multi-use-games-area as part of the project that represents an investment of up to £300,000.

The centre’s former pitch was laid around 20 years ago and was well used by the community including local sporting clubs.

Council Cabinet Member for Investment, Regeneration and Tourism, Robert Francis-Davies, visited the site this week to check on progress that has also seen new netting and fencing installed.

He said: “Sport is such an important part of so many peoples’ lives so I’m really pleased we’ve able to use part of the council’s Economic Recovery Fund to make these improvements.

“The council recognises sport has huge physical, mental health and general wellbeing benefits and that is why we do all we can to provide modern and accessible facilities for all.

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“This pitch will benefit thousands of players of all ages and is just the latest all-weather pitch we have funded or provided support towards in recent years following on from investments at Penyrheol, Morriston, Pentrehafod, Gowerton, Bishopston, the Elba Sports Complex and at Dylan Thomas Community School.”

The work at the Phoenix Centre was carried out by Blakedown Sport and Play and old pitch has been recycled by a company working in the golf industry.

The Phoenix Centre is a flagship community enterprise centre run and managed by Hill Community Development Trust.

Manager Leanne Dower said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming our existing and new users to this great new facility.

“The pitch will create opportunities for local children to try a variety of sports and have a safe space to play. We are very grateful to all involved for supporting us.”

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(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Rugby

Wales Civil Service victorious in historic rugby match

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Rugby teams from Wales and England Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), came together at Cardiff Arms Park last night to replicate a historic match that took place in 1923 between the Welsh and English Civil Service.

Wales were victorious on the night, beating England in a 51-26 result. The home team came out on top in a high-spirited friendly match which showcased the best of Civil Service Rugby in front of hundreds of spectators. The match also raised over £1,000 for the Wooden Spoon children’s charity of rugby.

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Civil Service Rugby Football Club were one of 20 clubs who founded the Rugby Football Union on 26 January 1871. The Civilian, known as The Accredited Organ of the Civil Service, reported on 1 April 1922 that soon after the formation of the Civil Service Sports Council (CSSC), sports clubs were seeking to organise themselves into sports associations.

On 21st March, a meeting of representatives of Civil Service Rugby Football Clubs was held at Lake Buildings, St James Park, London. Draft rules were passed, and a Union of Civil Service Rugby Football Clubs was formed. A provisional committee was appointed to carry on till the first Annual Meeting to be held in September 1922.

The Union of Civil Service Rugby Clubs confirmed fixtures against the Navy, Air Force, United Hospitals and United Banks. This match remembers the original fixture between the English and Welsh Civil Service.

The Civil Service Sports Council Rugby fixture between Wales & England In recognition and celebration of 100 years of the Civil Service Sports Council at Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Wales. (Image: John Smith).

Matt Bazeley, CEO at CSSC, said: “Over the past year and throughout 2022 we have been celebrating the rich heritage of CSSC and the important role we have played in the nation’s sporting history over the past 100 years. As a founding member of the Rugby Football Union, it has been a real honour to see this match come together to both recognise and champion Civil Service Rugby and congratulations to the Wales team on their victory.”

The rugby match joins a series of events being hosted across the country to celebrate 100 years of sports within CSSC. Proceeds from the match ticket sales will be donated to the Wooden Spoon Rugby Charity.

Part funded by the Cabinet Office and specifically designed for civil servants and public sector workers, CSSC is an exclusive not-for-profit membership organisation inspiring over 140,000 members to explore new ways to be active and healthy.  To find out more about CSSC and whether you are eligible for a membership, please visit: https://www.cssc.co.uk/join

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(Lead image: John Smith)

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Books & Literature

Former Llanelli rugby star hopes to be victorious at The Oval

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After enjoying his fair share of success as a rugby player and team manager Anthony Buchanan now hopes to win big as an author.

The former Llanelli and Wales star has been shortlisted for The Sunday Times Rugby Book of the Year 2022 award following the publication of his biography, The Buck Props Here.

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His unique rugby journey didn’t begin until the age of 22, when he chose to turn his back on a highly promising career in football as a goalkeeper, but led to playing for Llanelli and representing Wales in the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

On retirement he became an administrator and helped transform the Scarlets into a European powerhouse before serving on the International Rugby Board and overseeing the selection of referees at the last Rugby World Cup.

His story has been ghost written by former Evening Post reporter, Geraint Thomas, who notches up a unique hat trick of nominations having previously been shortlisted – in what is seen as the Oscars of sports books – after ghost writing Glenn Webbe: The Gloves Are Off (2020) the biography of the former Bridgend and Wales wing, and Terry Davies: Wales’s First Superstar Fullback (2017) alongside the former Llanelli, Wales and Lions star.

Former Evening Post reporter, Geraint Thomas who has ghostwritten Anthony’s biography

The pair, who are up against former Wales centre Jamie Roberts, Irish stars Keith Earls and Willie Anderson, as well as This is Your Everest: The Lions, The Springboks and the Epic Tour of 1997, and The Flying Prince: Alexander Obolensky, will attend a gala dinner in The Oval cricket ground London on Thursday to find out if they have won.

There will be further Welsh representation on the evening with Alun Wyn Jones on the shortlist for Autobiography of the Year 2022.

Buchanan, who is donating his share of the book’s royalties to securing the rugby pitch in Ystradgynlais for future generations, said: “I feel humbled to be in the running for the best rugby book in Great Britain and Ireland, but my story is not just about an individual, it encompasses the momentous shift in Welsh rugby, from the old amateur days to the introduction of European rugby, professionalism and the regions.

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“I would like to thank Geraint Thomas for encouraging me to tell my story in the first place and for weaving all that has happened into such a compelling narrative. He’s done such a wonderful job. So many people, who have read it, have contacted me to say how much they enjoyed it – and they weren’t all Scarlets supporters!”

Thomas, who trained as a magazine journalist in Cardiff University’s School of Journalism and went on to complete an MA in Creative and Media Writing at Swansea University, said: “To be shortlisted for a third time obviously feels great and, I guess, is quite an achievement, not just for me but also my publisher Y Lolfa, who have always shown faith in me.”

Thomas, who had a spell playing for Bridgend in the early 1990s, added: “It helped that I played in the same era as Bucks and have a good knowledge of the Welsh rugby landscape. But what really makes the book so enjoyable is the how Buck has recalled the banter and humour which used to be the real reason we played the game.

“People ask me which is my favourite book, but, to be honest, I really enjoyed working on all three. Writing a book is a bit like having children only the hard work comes first and then you experience the pleasure of seeing them enter the world – and if they are popular that’s even better!”

The Sunday Times Book Awards take place on Thursday 27 May 2022

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