The Bears Roar once more on Dolwen Fields!
On Saturday, Dolwyn Fields in Llanwrtyd Wells hosted its first rugby match for almost 20 years, as the recently reformed Llanwrtyd Bears took on French opponents Les Coquovins . After coming together last year, the Bears had taken on Llandrindod Wells RFC in friendlies in Llandrindod and Builth. However, the whole reason for the Bears emerging from their 18-year hibernation had been to take on a team from their French twin town, Meriel.
It had been decided early on by the player run committee to make an event of the clash, so as well as the match, a charity Auction evening was organized. All monies raised to be split between 2 Wish Upon A Star, a bereavement charity, and The French choosing to donate their half to their local school.
With the weather for the preceding few weeks being truly awful, there were question marks as to whether the game could go ahead, but the work done by the Bears to have posts made (Thanks Tim Evans) and the pitch mowed and marked out, resulted in a hardy surface that even Storms Ciara and Dennis couldn’t spoil
So, come Saturday the 22nd, at 1.30 pm, the Llanwrtyd Bears took to the pitch, resplendent in their Green and Black strip to face their opponents. With Beulah YFC providing refreshments from the pavilion for the assembled masses, the stage was set.
With a stiff breeze, but thankfully no rain, the home side discovered the Coquovins had come to compete and were determined that this would be no teddy bears picnic. The opening 10 minutes saw the Bears desperately defending wave after wave of the French attack, who, try as they might, could not get the ball down over the line. Eventually, with a little bit of luck, the ball broke to the Bears backline, and with some neat footwork, the Bears ever young Captain Simon Powell opened the scoring for the Bears with a try, which he duly converted!
This was to set the tone for the first half, with the Meriel team showing plenty of guts and determination, dominating the scrum, but failing to convert territory into points. Each time their attacks were repulsed, with the Bears taking advantage of errors to pick up tries, including a splendid effort by eventual Man of the Match Stuart Reed.
The second half was to be a more even physical contest with the Bears pack bolstered by fresh legs, and Les Coquovins having to rejig due to injuries, with a couple of Bears players switching allegiance to help keep the numbers even. This resulted in a strong Bears scrum giving a platform for the backline to pile on the pressure, resulting in more Bears tries. Despite this, the Meriel side never gave up hope, and plenty of good work brought the try line close several times, only for the wall of Bears to stop them in their tracks.
When the final whistle blew, the Bears were victorious, but battle scars and friendships that will last for years had been forged.
Llanwrtyd Bears 50 – 0 Les Coquovins
Tries-Simon Powell, Stuart Reed, Gethin Davies 2, Max Hilliard, Steffan Towns, Lucas Evans, Dai Roberts.
Man of the Match – Stuart Reed.
Referee – Kathryn Cuthbertson.
At the Victoria Hall, the Charity Auction Evening was a completely sold-out event. With food provided by the various Bears and their families, along with a Hog Roast (Hog kindly donated by Rhys and Olwen Jones and cooked and served by Dave from Sospan Cafe ) included in the ticket price, it left plenty of money in the pockets of the excited crowd for bidding and the bar. ‘Le Grizzly Bar’ was custom built by the Bears, manned by willing volunteers and friends, and the tables and decorations wonderfully set up by Virginia Evans and Nathalie Davies.
With 31 lots, the auction had plenty to offer for anyone with a mixture of Sporting memorabilia and various other items. Star sporting Lots included Shirts signed by Rugby stars Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Andy Powell, plus signed shirts from Darts Star Jim Williams, and Paralympic Gold Medallist Rob Davies.
Once food and drink had been served, the action began with the Auctioneer Shae Price setting the bar high from the first lot, the Bears Polo shirt signed by Wales and Scarlets prop Wyn Jones selling for £350!
The evening rattled along, with everyone fully embracing the spirit of the event, and when the final lot was sold over £4000 had been raised towards the total. With the auction over, the Disco began, and the night became a party, celebrating the hard work the Bears and their supporters had put in.
The Bears would like to thank everyone who helped make this event so successful, including Llandrindod Wells RFC, Builth Wells RFC, Beulah YFC and especially everyone who donated lots for the auction. Also thanks to the people of Llanwrtyd Wells for supporting the day so generously.
Photographs by Tony Eagen and Martin Pigott