Ceri Jones named as forwards coach, Gareth Wyatt is backs coach

July 10 – Newport continue their preparations for the new season by naming former Black and Amber stalwart Ceri Jones as forwards coach and Gareth Wyatt as backs coach. Jones was previously head coach at RGC1404 for three years and for the Dragons in 2019. His playing career at prop included 98 appearances for Newport, 232 for Harlequins and 27 for Worcester. He has 2 Welsh caps. Wyatt was an exciting winger / full back with 182 appearances for Pontypridd and over 100 appearances for Newport and the Dragons, also winning two caps for Wales.

Following on from the announcements regarding retirements, Newport RFC has announced the retention of the following players for the 2024/25 season, where they will be celebrating their 150th anniversary.

Forwards: Tom Workman, Garin Harris, Henry Palmer, Wade Langley, Tyler Olding, Rynard Landman, Josh Skinner, Rhys Jenkins, Kyle Tayler, Josh Reid, Lewis David and Ben Roach.

Backs: Ioan Davies, Elliot Frewen, Jon Morris, Lloyd Lewis, Chay Foster-Smith, Iestyn Galton, Carwyn Penny, Matt O’Brien, Jac Lloyd and Luke Crane

The Black and Ambers travel to fellow celebrants Usk on August 3 in their first pre-season friendly before facing Blackheath at Newport Stadium (August 10), Brecon away on August 17 and finally Dings of Bristol on August 31.

Their first fixture in the new Elite competition is on September 14 at home to Bridgend. 

SEASON REVIEW - Newport come up just short

2023/24 – Newport RFC concluded their season with a narrow defeat to Llandovery at the Church Field in the play off final. The 14-7 loss in a pulsating encounter was a fine advert for the Welsh Premiership. The match was preceded by a stunning run of fourteen bonus point victories concluding with an 89-26 win at home to Bridgend.

 

Newport stun Ebbw to snatch victory

Mar 23 – A try in the seventh minute of added time by Elliott Ferriman converted by Matt O’Brien gave Newport a stunning 31-25 win against Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park. The Western Valley team had clawed back an 11 point deficit to lead by a point with fourteen minutes to go but conceded a late score which cements Newport’s bid for a top two finish.

Newport’s scores came via four tries scored by Hope, Frewen, Palmer and Ferrimen, all converted by O’Brien who also added a penalty. 

Newport have won five of their last six matches at Eugene Cross Park. 

 

 

 

Newport continue title push

Mar 17 – Newport have continued their title push with three more bonus point victories. The Black and Ambers hammered Pontypridd 45-10 at Sardis Road, before home wins against Cardiff at Rodney Parade (28-14) and Neath at Newport Stadium (33-26). They now have 10 consecutive bonus point wins under their belt. Next up is an fixture at Ebbw Vale on Saturday.

The season to date

Feb 22 – Since we were away Newport have confirmed their place as front runners for a home play off position in the Premiership. Newport are unbeaten in 2024 and have not lost since their 29-7 reverse to Llandovery at the end of November. They have rattled off seven consecutive bonus point victories including a 36-19 victory over the Christmas period at Pontypool Park. Their most recent match saw them come away from Merthyr with a 31-15 victory.

 

Newport receive Elite green light

Feb 22 –  Newport confirmed their place in the new Elite Development League following confirmation from the Welsh Rugby Union. The Black and Ambers join eight other selected sides from the existing Premiership. Neath missed out. Pontypridd and Merthyr did not apply but it is thought Cardiff will be given the opportunity for a late application. 

The new competition will link more closely to the professional teams and the teams will receive increased funding of up to £105k per annum. The Welsh Rugby Union have committed to investigating the potential for a cross border competition.

Newport expected to express interest in Elite competition

Oct 27 – Newport were expected to express an interest in the new WRU elite competition aimed at strengthening semi professional rugby and providing a pathway for regional and academy players. It will involve eight or ten teams.

Another win on road for Newport

Oct 21 – A much changed line was still good enough to beat Carmarthen. Newport ran out 34-26 victors. Tries came from Lewis, Olding, Skinner and Tayler. Penny added three conversions and two penalties, Jac Lloyd also kicked a conversion.

Newport return to form against Wizards

Oct 14 – Newport proved too strong for Aberavon at the Talbot Athletic Ground winning by 31 points to 8. The Black and Ambers enjoyed a brilliant second half after holding a three point half time lead. Tries came from Westwood, Morris, Penny and Harris with one penalty and three conversions from O’Brien.

Whites hold off Newport

Sep 30 – A depleted Newport team was beaten 26-21 at Newport Stadium by Swansea. Newport playing without key personnel struggled to make an impact and were unable to cope with Swansea’s strong inside backs combination. Lloyd Lewis scored two tries, Elliot Frewen added the other, all three were converted by Carwyn Penny.

Newport easily beat RGC

Sep 16 – Newport maintained their winning start to the League campaign with a 41-25 victory in Colwyn Bay against RGC1404.

They scored six tries (Hope 2, Harris 2, Lloyd and Andrews), Matt O’Brien added four conversions and a drop goal. 

David Watkins

David Watkins 1942-2023

Sep 3 – Newport and Pontypool marked a minutes silence at  news of the death of one of Newport’s greatest players, David Watkins, on the morning of the match. Tributes poured in from both rugby codes for David Watkins who passed away at the age of 81.

Blaina-born Watkins, known affectionately as “Dai”, played rugby union for Newport and was part of the team which famously beat the touring All Blacks in 1963. See him in action here. He also won 21 caps for Wales and captained the British & Irish Lions before making a shock switch to rugby league with Salford in 1967 having resisted interest from St Helens as an 18-year-old. He scored 400 points in over 300 appearances.

He went onto coach in rugby league and was Newport RFC’s team manager in 1992-93. He remained devoted to Newport RFC becoming Chairman during the Tony Brown era.

Newport win opener

Sep 3 – A large crowd boosted by Pontypool’s Premiership return saw Newport prevail 38-27 against their neighbours at Rodney Parade. The Black and Ambers outscored Pooler by 6 tries to 3 but the Eastern Valley side performed with considerable credit. The first half in particular was a fine advert for this level of rugby with the lead changing several times before Newport stretched the half time advantage to 13 points. The second half was a scrappy affair with only try apiece. Newport’s concluding try came from the impressive Joe Westwood. He scored two, as did flying winger Lloyd Lewis with the other tries from prop Thomas Davies and captain Ben Roach. Rhys Jenkins was red carded for two yellow card offences.

Pipped at the post in Esher

Aug 26 – Newport lost 35-34 with Esher converting a try on the whistle in their friendly in Surrey.

There is considerable interest in Pontypool’s fixture at Newport on Sunday September 3 with reports of good ticket and hospitality sales at Rodney Parade as Newport’s eastern valley opponents return to the Premiership.

Comfortable win at Brecon

Aug 19 – Newport made it three out of three with a preseason friendly win by 41 points to 10 at Brecon.

Black and Ambers win in Bristol

Aug 13 – Newport continued their pre-season preparation with a 17-14 win against Ding’s Crusaders in Bristol.

Big win at Bedwas

Aug 6 – Newport opened up with an emphatic 71-12 win at Bedwas outscoring the home team by 11 tries to 2.

Newport open season with Pooler clash

Aug 3 – Newport open up their league season with a home fixture against newly promoted Pontypool at Rodney Parade on September 3 (kick off 5.15pm, televised live by S4C). Number 8 Ben Roach will lead the Black and Ambers. The squad includes familiar names including Matt O’Brien and Elliot Frewen but includes a host of new signings including props Harry Fry and Aaron Dowse, utility backs Carwyn Perry and Jacob Lloyd, hooker Tyler Olding, locks Jon Verrier and Chris Pursall and back row Lewis David.

Newport prepare for another campaign

July 15 – Newport have started their preparations for another campaign in the Welsh Premiership. Their opening fixture is against Pontypool at home on September 3.Their friendly fixtures start with a trip to Bedwas on August 4 at 7pm. Season tickets for the new season are £140 with concessions at £100. Most home games will be played at Newport Stadium.

Ben Roach has been named as captain for the 2023/24 season by Newport RFC. The tough, athletic No.8 has been the first name on he team sheet since joining the club and is popular with both his teams mates and supporters. Ben will be starting his third season in black and amber and has already notched up 42 appearances and 11 tries.

Season ends with defeat to the olde enemy

May 15 – Newport’s season concluded with a 21-7 defeat to their oldest rivals, Cardiff at the Arms Park. Newport were competitive but without their wily outside half Matt O’Brien ultimately Cardiff were tactically on top and will progress to the Premiership Final where they will play Llandovery.

Newport can reflect on a good season particularly from Christmas onwards where they played some exciting rugby and developed some good prospects for the future. They will now focus on playing strength for next season and longer term arrangements for Newport Stadium with Newport Live.

Newport beat Drovers in storming game

May 7 – Newport beat top team Llandovery with some excellent play particularly towards the end of the game, beating the Drovers 52-33 at Rodney Parade. The result knocked Llandovery down to second meaning the Black and Ambers face Cardiff, again, at the Arms Park next Sunday

Newport tries came from Lewis (2), O’Driscoll, Crane, Davies , Gillard and a penalty try. Matt O’Brien added six conversions and a penalty.

Llanelli forfeit game

Apr 30 – Llanelli forfeited their game against Newport on Saturday. The WRU awarded the game to Newport , adding five points to their points total and guaranteeing fourth place with a fixture to go, on May 6th at home to Llandovery, kick off 7pm. No compensation will be forthcoming to Newport. Llanelli managed to scrape together a side for the home clash with Newport on April 15!

Newport miss out on Cup glory

Apr 23 – Cardiff snatched victory from the jaws of defeat beating Newport 13-10 in a tight, exciting Principality Cup final.

The two sides were closely matched but prior to the acrobatic score by Joe Goodchild after 78 minutes converted by Fish the Black and Ambers seemed the stronger outfit. The lateness of the score left Newport with little hope of recovery.

The first half ended 6-3 to Cardiff but Newport were denied a probable penalty try after Ackerman made a clean break. Cardiff’s fullback Dewi Cross was deemed by the referee not to have deliberately knocked the ball on as the Black and Amber centre passed inside.

In the second half Newport dominated with Rhys Jenkins prominent. After a number of big drives Ben Roach produced what seemed to be the winning try as he crashed over after 48 minutes. Matt O’Brian converted and enjoyed the better of the tactical duel with opposite number Dan Fish. However, it was Fish who produced the wide pass to create room for Goodchild’s very late, spectacular try.

Commanding performance in West Wales

Apr 15 – Newport’s march to the play-offs continued with a commanding victory over Llanelli. They quickly snuffed out any home resistance with a fine display. Elsewhere play off rivals Aberavon and Ebbw Vale both lost leaving Newport firm favourites for the end of season finale. Tries came from Lloyd Lewis (3), Henry Palmer (2), Chay Smith (2), Jonny Morris, Luke Crane, Craig Hudd and Iestyn Galton win four conversions from Geraint O’Driscoll.

Newport progress to fourth

Apr 12 – Newport progressed to fourth place after an emphatic 36-12 victory over Bridgend at Newport Stadium, their seventh consecutive win. The Black and Ambers face two fixtures against Llanelli as they bid to secure their play off place. Newport’s tries came from  Benjamin, Buckland, Frewin, Greggains, Ackerman and Hope with three converted by Matt O’Brien.

Newport pushing hard for play off spot

Apr 8 – Newport returned to Rodney Parade to record another fine win in their play off push, beating third placed Merthyr by 33-27. The score line flattered the Ironman as Newport were in control throughout. The Black and Ambers scored four tries via Joe Westwood, Dafydd Buckland and Lloyd Lewis (2), Matt O’Brien added two conversions and three penalties

The battle for fourth


.Left to play

Ebbw –   Merthyr (A), Aberavon (H), Cardiff (H)

Aberavon – Ebbw Vale (A),  Llandovery (H)

Newport – Bridgend (H), Llanelli (H) and (A), Llandovery (H)

Tributes paid to Newport legends

Apr 4 – Following the sad loss of Cardiff benefactor Peter Thomas, Newport mourned the loss of their own benefactor Tony Brown and former coach Ian MacIntosh this week. 

Former South Africa coach MacIntosh was at Newport in the 2001-2 season. He proved very popular but ultimately the season ended without success, a controversial cup exit to Cardiff , they threw away the league title to Llanelli. In Europe they completed the double over Jonny Wilkinson’s Newcastle and beat Toulouse but went out thanks a floodlight failure and late defeat to Leinster.
With respect to Brown Newport RFC stated “Tony Brown first joined the club as a vice-president in 1997, before becoming our first chief executive then major shareholder. During his tenure, Brown oversaw an unprecedented transformation, bringing in an array of international stars and achieving silverware with the Welsh Cup in 2001.

The “Tony Brown era” is regardedm as one of the most memorable times in the club’s history, and his invaluable contribution led to him being one of the first inductees into the NRFC Hall of Fame in 2012. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Unfortunately as part of the transition to regional rugby Brown agreed a merger with Ebbw Vale. He walked away from the so called Gwent Dragons but returned adding Newport to the team’s title following a 12,000 name petition and resolved early financial problems for the new side. Ultimately, the Newport professional team was lost. Many of us will recall his agonising on the night of his explanation of the Ebbw Vale merger to members and shareholders.

With Brown and fellow benefactor Martyn Hazell ending their involvement the culmination of Newport’s involvement in the disastrous Dragons regional rugby side led to the sale of Rodney Parade at cut price to the Welsh Rugby Union.

 

Another big win in play off push

Apr 4 – Newport continued their play off push with a 52-17 win over Carmarthen. They are six adrift of Aberavon with two games in hand and  five to play. Two of their remaining games are against bottom placed Llanelli. Eight tries (Benjamin 2, Frewen 2, Tayler, O’Driscoll, Palmer, Westwood) and six conversions (O’Brien 4, Bancroft 2) made up Newport’s score.

Emphatic win for Newport at Ponty

Mar 30 – Newport won their second game against Pontypridd in five days with an emphatic 34-7 victory at Sardis Road. Superbly led by Matt O’Brien the Black and Ambers sealed the win in the first half through tries from Tayler, Harris, Lewis and Foster-Smith. They added a fifth in a less eventful second half following a surge from back row Lennon Greggains.

Newport are chasing a possible place in the play offs but are significantly adrift of Aberavon and Ebbw Vale above them.

Black and Ambers cruise to final

Mar 25 – Newport cruised past Pontypridd in the Principality Premiership Cup to secure a final showdown with Cardiff. The Black and Ambers proved too strong for Ponty at the Brewery Field. They surged into a 14-0 lead with tries by Thomas Davies and Sam Jones both converted by Matt O’Brien. Pontypridd hit back with a Griffiths try following a yellow card for Newport’s Dafydd Buckland. The latter scored an unconverted try late in the second half to give Newport a 19-5 advantage. The second half went in favour of Newport with an early try from Sam Jones converted by O’Brien killing off Ponty’s hopes. They stuck to their task scoring a late Dale Stuckley try to narrow Newport’s final advantage to 26-10. In the other semi final Cardiff beat RGC 52 to 15.

New Elite League proposed

Mar 18 – The Welsh Rugby Union has announced proposals for a new tier of competition between the professional clubs and semi professional Premiership to commence in 2024-25. If it goes ahead Newport would expect to be one of the elite teams.

Wales online states “If this idea gets the go ahead the regions will nominate one semi-professional club each from their pathway, while Rygbi Gogledd Cymru will also be guaranteed a place. The remaining clubs in the Premiership will then get the opportunity to apply to fill the remaining three places but it is unclear what the criteria for entry will be.” 
The proposal will be voted on by the Professional Rugby Club and the Community Game Board. 
Bizarrely, despite the Union’s financial difficulties all community clubs will continue to receive £4k per annum. The Premiership teams will receive £50k.

Snowfall puts paid to Carmarthen clash

Mar 8 – Thick snowfall overnight led to the postponement of Newport’s home clash with Carmarthen, the pitch was declared unplayable early in the day.

Fine win for Newport

Mar 4 – Newport pulled off a fine win by beating Aberavon 17-10 at the Talbot Athletic Ground. Henry Palmer gave the Black and Ambers the early lead after finishing off a driving maul. The Wizards scored a penalty before Newport scored from a multiple handling move finished off by Cameron Davies, converted by Matt O’Brien to give them a 12-3 half time lead.

Aberavon hit back on the hour with a try by Shay Smallman converted by Aled Thomas. Newport completed the scoring with four minutes to go, Ioan Davies going over in the corner.

Newport overcome Swansea

Feb 18 – Newport overcame Swansea in a high scoring encounter at Newport Stadium. The Black and Ambers eventually ran out 33-24 victors, sitting seventh in the table. Newport scored two converted tries from Frewen and Palmer as they held a 14-10 lead. In the second half Newport stretched their lead on two occasions to eleven points with tries from O’Brien and Evans. Swansea hit back to score a converted try before    Walker Price scored his first try to seal the victory.

Depleted Black & Ambers beaten by RGC

Feb 11 – A much depleted Newport team went down 36-21 at RGC in Colwyn Bay. The Black and Ambers were without key men such as Matt O’Brien for the trip to North Wales. Newport started very strongly, racing in to a 14-3 lead, tries from Palmer and Richards converted by Geraint O’Driscoll. RGC hit back to reduce the deficit by a point before the interval and to extend their lead in the second half. At 29-14 Newport reduced the margin via Ben Roach converted by Matt Bancroft. In the dying seconds RGC made it a comfortable victory with an Ossian Bird try.

Newport come up just short at Bridgend

Jan 28 – Newport came up just short at the Brewery Field going down to Bridgend by three points. The home side were ahead throughout spurred on by Ed Holley with the Black and Ambers playing catch up. They scored two first half tries through Elliot Frewen and Lloyd Lewis to narrow the half time deficit to seven points but Bridgend pulled away again before referee Ben Whitehouse awarded Newport a penalty try on 74 minutes and Rhys Jenkins scored a try three minutes later converted by Matt O’Brien making the score 27-24. Newport ended the game with two bonus points.

Newport call for WRU Chief Exec to go

Jan 26 – Newport RFC has issued a statement condemning the discriminatory behaviour in the BBC and asking WRU leaders to step aside, by implication the Chief Executive.

They said “There is no place in our sport, or indeed anywhere in society, for discrimination of any kind and Newport RFC condemn the reported culture within our national governing body. Newport RFC acknowledges and supports the calls previously made by WRU chair, Ieuan Evans, to evolve the governance of the organisation to ensure the board are “truly representative” and “skills-based”. The board of Newport RFC now unanimously call upon the WRU and its board to implement this with immediate effect and those who have enabled the existing appalling culture should stand aside or be replaced.”

WRU under intense pressure after investigation

Jan 25 – The Welsh Rugby Union’s culture has been exposed in a BBC investigation. The programme highlighted devastating testimonies of misogyny and sexism with little respect for women, women in authority or the women’s game.

Although shocking the testimonies will come as little surprise. The current chief executive Steve Phillips has offered to ‘re-examine’ its structures and to ‘listen and learn’. However, this is far short of what is required and no attempt to deflect responsibility will suffice.

The WRU should not be the boys club presented here and should be run for the first time as a properly professional organisation. As Carwyn Jones, former First Minister stated, “ The reputation of not just the Welsh Rugby Union, but rugby in general in Wales, will continue to be tarnished if people think that the action that’s been taken isn’t sufficient.”

In the light of this the Chief Executive should now resign and a new management team be brought it in to thoroughly update the running of the WRU.  Now is the time for a review of its governance, structures and finance. It is also time to separate the professional and amateur club games. 

Frozen pitch - game off

Jan 21 – Newport Stadium’s pitch was frozen on Saturday morning and as a result the game between Newport and Llandovery set for the afternoon was called off after an early inspection.

Final kick of the game beats Cardiff

Jan 14 – Newport beat Cardiff with the last kick of the game at the Arms Park this afternoon. A Matt O’Brien drop goal gave the Black and Ambers a thrilling 18-17 victory. It was only Cardiff’s second defeat of the season, they remain top of the Welsh Premiership, Newport are up to sixth.

Cardiff built a 10-0 half time advantage with a try from Dewi Cross converted by Harrison James, who also added a penalty. The Black and Ambers struck with a try from Alex Grey after 44 minutes converted by Matt O’Brien. O’Brien added a penalty before Lloyd Lewis put Newport five points ahead. In a tight game O’Brien missed a penalty opportunity and Cardiff took full advantage of the sin-binning of Rhys Jenkins to seize the lead with a try converted by James.

With the game in injury time O’Brien missed with one drop kick before sealing the win with the final act of the match.