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Llandovery Ready to Rule in New Super Rygbi Cymru

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By Graham Thomas

Llandovery head coach Euros Evans believes the new Super Rygbi Cymru tournament will create players who are driven by long-term ambition – rather than a short-term dash for cash.

Evans – who has turned The Drovers into the best club side underneath regional level – admits the new salary cap will mean players will not be making much money from the semi-professional game.

The Drovers are planning three training sessions a week next season for their players in the 18 to 23 age bracket, with two double sessions – rugby and weights – for other older players.

As well as the match on a weekend, that will mean players will have a commitment of three or four times a week, but earn an average of £90 per week based on a cap of £150,000 for a 32-man squad.

Evans – who also works as director of rugby at Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire – says of the new format, “For me, it is a step in the right direction.

“It is probably not where we want to be in five years’ time, but it’s definitely a movement in terms of understanding the importance of development of younger players in preparation for this new league and the regional stuff.

“Players need rewarding for their commitment, there’s no doubt about that. But if you’re an aspirational player, who wants to play for the region or for Wales, then during that journey I think money is not the driver for you to achieve success. 

“I think playing in an environment that is going to improve you, to challenge you and give you an opportunity to get to pro rugby, might well be enough of an incentive for you to be part of that. 

“Ultimately those are the types of players that we want to be working with, and they’ll get rewarded. They won’t be out of pocket by playing semi -refreshing rugby.

“But I don’t think it’s going to be an environment that it may have been in previous years, where there was a financial decision to decide where players were going to play.”

Evans has built the most dominant squad in the semi-professional tier in Wales.

Indigo Premiership champions in 2023, they also retained their title this year with a play-off final victory over Newport to make it a double winning season after earlier beating Merthyr to lift the WRU Premiership Cup.

Little wonder, then, that DragonBet make Llandovery among the favourites to become the first Super Rygbi Cymru champions next season in their newly calculated odds.

The Drovers are priced at 3/1, the same as play-off runners-up Newport and semi-finalists Cardiff, who have announced a coaching change for next season with Steve Law replaced by Dan Fish.

Then, come a batch of five clubs priced at 7/1 – Ebbw Vale, Aberavon, Bridgend, Pontypool and Swansea. Carmarthen Quins are at 9/1, with RGC the outsiders at 11/1.

Evans believes Llandovery are well-placed to make it a hat-trick of titles next season and become the first club to lift the Super Rygbi Cymru trophy.

There is nowhere to go in terms of promotion, so their target the following season will be to do it all over again and make it a Manchester City-style four in a row.

“For for the last few years we’ve been top four and always been competitive , but we have added players and now have a really good balance between youth and experience,” added Evans.

“You have to also create an environment where players enjoy the sessions, where there is a bit of depth to cover injuries, and people feel the experience is going to be a positive one.”

Away from the domestic game, European rugby takes centre stage this weekend, with the European Challenge Cup Final taking place on Friday night between Gloucester and the Sharks at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The South African Sharks are favourites with DragonBet at 8/13, with Gloucester outsiders at 11/8, with the draw priced 20/1.

On Saturday, it’s the turn of the main tournament, the European Champions Cup Final. The same Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will host the big clash between the two European giants, Leinster and Toulouse.

It’s a tight one for DragonBet who make Leinster narrow favourites at 4/5 and Toulouse not far behind at 21/20. 

If you fancy the two heavyweights to slug out a draw, then you can get it at 18/1.

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