28 May 2021 / Club News

Pre-Season Match Maesteg Quins -v- Bridgend Ravens

Whatever form the match takes with the Covid rugby rules, Maesteg Harlequins will welcome Bridgend Ravens RFC to South Parade for the very first time on July 24th.

One thing about the matches is that they are always full-blooded encounters with the Ravens predicably leading the rubber three to nil.

The teams are no strangers to each other. Since the Quins climbed to compete in more illustrious Welsh rugby company, the Ravens have welcomed the Maesteg men on three occasions in recent years for pre-season matches. Always tough games for the Quins, they have proven perfect preparation for the rigors of the season ahead.

Perhaps the Quins have gained more from the matches than the Ravens. Despite winning comfortably in each of the triumvirate of fixtures, Bridgend have gone on to struggle in the Premier League. So much so, relegation contests have been the Bridgend bill of fayre for a number of seasons. That scenario may change when a league season is re-established, due to the Ravens’ recruitments over the past twelve months.

In fairly recent years there has been a sound ‘working relationship between the two clubs. Bridgend captain Nathan Edwards, Owen Howe and Geraint Watkins have played for both clubs in the same season. Dean Ronan took a year out from his decade long association at the Quins to coach Bridgend. Lewis Francis, Steve Williams, Cameron Jones and Matthew Tidball, Adam Hillier-Rees, Grant Epton, Owen Richards, Nathan White, Teifion Jones and Emyr Williams have all worn the blue and white of Bridgend and the coal black and red of the Quins. Going a little further back, Colin Roberts, Nick Flay and Simon Thomas. Ian Spender also appeared for the Quins on the 2002 Canada Tour.

Chris Stephens also coached both clubs, so too Bridgend’s player / coach signing Matthew Jones who was recently tempted away from Neath to take the reigns at the Brewery Field.

In the late 1950s Quins captain, outside-half David Brown, a player with a touch of elegance and stardust plus 1960s Quins captain, prop Wynford Thomas turned out for Bridgend. Yet the links between the two clubs go back well over a hundred years, 117 to be precise. Welsh Union international flanker Dai Watts played for the Quins prior to his sojourn to the Cynon and Rhymney valleys as well as Merthyr, return to the Old Parish and playing for Maesteg and outings for Bridgend.

Yet, while Watts was playing for the Llynfi [Maesteg] Harlequins, a diminutive scrum-half by the name of Will Hopkin had played for the Maesteg Harlequins ‘Originals’ in 1899-1900. The Tredegar born half-back was such a rich talent, he was making a great name for himself on sporadic appearances for the Old Parish, who could not overlook him even when they had popular skillful players in the same position. By 1904 Hopkin ‘went south’ to Bridgend.

Returning to July 24th, Bridgend’s first visit to South Parade will certainly be a time to celebrate after eighteen long, long months away from the sport.

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