Category: Neath Rugby News

COUNCIL CALLS FOR FRESH START AT NEATH RFC

4 December 2018

COUNCIL CALLS FOR FRESH START AT NEATH RFC

Neath Port Talbot Council has today expressed serious concern about the future of Neath RFC, endorsing recent statements made by grass root supporters of the Club.

The Council owns the freehold of the Gnoll and has a head lease in place with the Welsh Rugby Union, who in turn sub-let the ground to Neath Rugby Limited. The local authority regards the Rugby Club as an important part of the fabric of the town and the wider community.

The Council has specific concerns about the consequences of players, coaching and other staff leaving and the failure of the club to fulfil a recent fixture. The Council is itself a creditor; but the immediate priority is to preserve Premiership rugby at the Gnoll. The Council would therefore be willing to work actively with the Welsh Rugby Union, the supporters and other interests towards that objective.

A Council spokesperson said
“There is a proud history of rugby at the Gnoll; but we cannot go on like this. Neath RFC has lurched from one set of financial problems to the next over many years and it is time for a fresh start. It is clear that the current structure is not going to achieve that and we want to see the Club put on a much firmer financial and operational footing going forward in the interests of the town and the wider community”.

W.H.O. (HYWEL) WILLIAMS

Neath supporters of older vintage will be saddened to learn that former winger Hywel Williams has passed away.

Cardigan-based Hywel Williams joined Neath in 1965/66 having scored two tries for London Welsh against Neath in their 11-6 defeat at Old Deer Park the previous season.

He soon established himself as a free-scoring winger for the Welsh All Blacks, amassing 64 tries in over 160 appearances for Neath from 1965 until 1970 when the burden of travelling from his West Wales home finally got the better of him – at a time when he probably had a lot of good rugby left in him.

A superbly balanced runner, Hywel Williams was a key member of the Neath side which won the “Western Mail” Welsh championship and the “Daily Telegraph” Anglo-Welsh Pennant in 1966/67 when he was Neath’s top try-scorer with 22 tries.

I can envisage him now receiving a pass, often from his cultured centre Glen Ball. A quick shift of the hips and an outside swerve would put him beyond his opposite number and any covering full back and many a long-striding run would culminate in him scoring in either the Clubhouse corner or at the “Baths” end.

He played in the Neath-Aberavon combined side which lost 3-9 to the Australians at The Gnoll in 1966 and a year later he scored the only try for the West Wales XV which took Brian Lochore’s invincible New Zealand team all the way before losing 14-21 at Swansea.

Hywel appeared in Welsh trials but sadly the ultimate honour of a full cap eluded him. Still, his profession saw him launch many a player on the path to success, among them former Wales scrum-half Brynmor Williams who recalls regular trips to The Gnoll to see Hywel play.

In recent years, Hywel has been a regular supporter of the Former Players’ functions and he would inevitably arrive earlier than most and politely request a nostalgic visit to the home dressing-room.

Neath’s long history has seen many top wingers and Hywel Williams ranks among the finest including record-breaking captain Bill Jones and internationals like Dan Jones, Arthur Hickman, Cyril Roberts, Keith Maddocks, Elgan Rees and Shane Williams.

A real gentleman, Hywel Williams will be missed but remembered by those of us fortunate enough to have seen him play. MP

HOSPITALITY CHRISTMAS SUPPORTERS’ EVENING


Neath Rugby hospitality will continue on Friday, 7th December. The hospitality evening will start at 5:30pm with a two course meal followed by Live Entertainment (Peter Jones) and evening Disco.

This is a great opportunity to try the Neath Rugby hospitality experience which will be in place for every home league game. Recent hospitality events have been very successful and arrangements are being made to ensure that this experience continues for all home games.

Having enjoyed a delicious two course meal, supporters will have the opportunity to enjoy the entertainment provided.

Entry for this event is £10.00 for non HOSPITALITY PACKAGE holders.

It is expected that we will have a big take up for this event so please book early by ringing the clubhouse on 01639 643328 or ringing Keith directly on 07741 999220 or Gerald on 07873787414.

Please could HOSPITALITY PACKAGE holders please contact either Keith or Gerald to confirm if you are attending to allow us to plan catering requirements.

NO TEAM NEWS THIS WEEK

Due to the postponement of the Bedwas game, there is no Team News this week.

Just to confirm the following “departed”, players who have transferred to other Premiership clubs during our crisis:
Ed Howley and Scott Gibson (Cardiff), Ieuan Jones and Scott Andrews (Cross Keys), Luke Garrett and Lloyd Evans (Ebbw Vale), Liam Tobias (Llanelli), Chris Morgans (Swansea), Jordan Collier (Bridgend), Rhys Jones (Llandovery) and Darren Hughes (Pontypool).

STATEMENT ON JARDINE NORTON CLAIM

The Director of Neath Rugby Limited, Mike Cuddy, has asked for the following personal statement to be published:

STATEMENT ON JARDINE NORTON CLAIM

Neath Rugby Limited today moved to correct misreporting on the July 2018 loan to Mike Cuddy from Jardine Norton.

It has been claimed on social and other media, that the rugby club had been offered as security by its Directors in respect of a £1m loan to Cuddy Group.

This is absolutely not the case. The disputed claim from Jardine Norton amounts to an original £20k loan, taken out to fund one months wages earlier this year.

The loan is now the subject of a contested £30k claim against the club, with the sum due having risen due to disputed charges and interest.

STATEMENT FROM MIKE CUDDY

Over 180 supporters attended a meeting which took place tonight (Tuesday 27th November 2018) at Neath Rugby Clubhouse to have an update on developments relating to the Winding Up Court case against Neath Rugby Limited.

The sole Director of Neath Rugby Limited, Mike Cuddy, had been invited to be in attendance to address players and supporters but was unable to do so. Instead, Mike Cuddy asked that the following personal statement be read out at the meeting –

“During pre-season we unfortunately recruited significant, expensive and subsequently underperforming players, the majority of who did not understand our values and did not have our club at heart. In spite of player bonuses being paid, poor on-field performances continued with resulting match losses. This made us both the most expensive and by some distance the worst performing side in the league.

It became evident to me that we would have both been relegated and would make a financial loss of over £250,000, which was unacceptable. Over the past 3 years, I have already personally funded Neath Rugby to the sum of over £500k, having re-financed the club since taking over from the previous management. I could not allow this to continue so had to delay wages and other payments, whilst conducting a full review of the business side of the club. It is understandable that a number of players opted to leave during this period.

During this time spurious financial claims have been made against the club, unfortunately linked to my previous business. One of these claims has resulted in club bank accounts being frozen, meaning we could not pay wages and other financial commitments. I am attempting to unfreeze the bank account and will then to continue to fund, at a much lower level, a core of loyal contracted and permit players in order to fulfil this season’s fixtures. I am also seeking to negotiate and settle valid claims against the club.

Whilst we will do everything within our powers to stave off relegation we face a significant battle given our current position in the league. It is my intention to rebuild Neath Rugby, in its present company structure, from a lower division and for it to be once again successful.

I have been involved in Neath Rugby for over 25 years, during which I have spent over £1 million of my own money supporting this club. I continue to love it and its “real” supporters, in spite of continued personal and hurtful comments on social media from a minority of individuals.

My health remains extremely frail, and I am seeking external investment and volunteer assistance in terms of managing the club. I have communicated my willingness to sell up to 25% of the club to supporters, but representatives have advised me that there is no appetite for this. My poor health means I cannot meet a large group of supporters personally, but I will meet a small group as soon as I am fit and able to do so.

I would like to sincerely thank supporters, local rugby clubs and our commercial partners for their continued passionate support. Your commitment to our club is even more vital at this time.”

SUPPORTERS’ MEETING – Tues 27/11/18 8:00pm

There will be a Neath Rugby Supporters’ meeting at The Clubhouse in the hospitality suite at 8:00pm
on Tuesday November 27th, to advise on updates / any developments on the current situation.