Category: Neath Rugby News


Action Gallery images for the previous games are now available on the website:

Action photographs of Neath’s matches from this season are now published, courtesy of Len Kowalski of @neathtog
View here >>>>

Work is going on behind the scenes sorting the new profiles and Pen pictures.

Squad Pen pictures can be viewed here, player profiles will be added shortly:


Neath Schools Under-15’s begin the defence of the Lawrence Miller Bowl tomorrow (Wednesday, September 11th) when they entertain Blaenau Gwent at The Gnoll, kick off is at 6.00pm.

Schoolmasters the two David Williamses, Stuart Vaudin and WRU hub officer Michael Owen have done so much excellent work with Neath Schools over the years and this year Neath RFC’s Aaron Bramwell and Tomi Antozzi have been lending a helping hand.
So why not come along and support the youngsters ?

The Neath starting XV is :- 15 Charlie Thomas; 14 Kahlifa, 13 Ethan Piles, 12 Callum Edwards, 11 Llewelyn Hawkes; 10 Corin Richards, 9 Joe Thomas; 1 Grant Jones, 2 Elliot Tandy, 3 Tarik; 4 Luke Davies, 5 Aaron Jones; 6 Jayden Grimes, 8 Harvey M-Thomas (capt), 7 Ollie Jones


TREBANOS 7pts NEATH 23 pts

Neath opened their Championship campaign in the September sunshine with a solid-enough 23-7 win at Trebanos who battled to the end and held the All Blacks in check when many a lesser team might have cracked.

With five changes from the side which defeated Swansea, Neath were rapidly into their stride. Efficient kick-off receipt saw the worthy left boot of centre Matthew Pearce put Neath onto the attack, Trebanos threw not straight at the line-out and were penalised at the consequent scrum and winger Luke Griffiths landed the goal from 40 metres.

Trebanos gave early indications of their defensive resolution but a break by outside-half Jordan Rees promised much for Neath only to expire due to lack of support. But Neath were slowly turning the screw, forcing Trebanos to defend in their 22, and on the half-hour Neath’s first try was registered – a debut score for No.8 Tomi Antozzi who touched down at the back of a rapidly-advancing scrum.

Griffiths converted and, when Trebanos were penalised for a deliberate knock on, the winger landed a second penalty. The half had been mostly Neath whose try-line was not threatened although winger Josh Ferryman missed with a speculative long-range goal on the interval which Neath entered a deserved 13-nil to the good.

The second-half exploded into action when Aaron Bramwell’s pass was eagerly seized upon by Ferryman who scampered to the posts and converted to bring the score back to 13-7. Neath response was instantaneous as their forwards took play to the Trebanos line, Pearce made inroads towards the posts and Jordan Rees arrowed across on the right for the Blacks’ second try and Griffiths converted to restore Neath’s advantage.

The remainder of the game was played out almost entirely in the Trebanos half but Neath were unable to cross the line again. The home side’s determination was commendable and flankers Iwan Davies and Rhydian George tackled themselves almost to a standstill until replaced. Griffiths added a third penalty but Neath, despite some strong driving play by their forwards, took wrong options and were unable to cross the Trebanos line although they came mighty close on several occasions.

It was not a complete performance by the Blacks – the opening game rarely is – but they were very much on top with hooker Sion Crocker and Tomi Antozzi setting the standards in the pack. More clinical finishing is called for and stupid penalties must be cut out but the scrum and defence look strong and it is notable that the four tries conceded by the Blacks in four games to date have come from individual errors rather than lack of organisation.

Trebanos are brave and very well organised and Neath need to be mindful that every side they meet will be equally as determined even when battered and bruised. Strangely enough Neath’s next challenge is a Cup match against the same opposition. Trebanos will come to The Gnoll on Saturday (2.30pm) fully intent on causing an upset and Neath will know that they cannot be taken lightly. Supporters are reminded that the Cup is “all pay” but at a very reasonable £5, Under-16’s free.

NEATH – A.Bramwell (capt); L.Griffiths, Jarrad Rees, M.Pearce (B.Atkins), W.Holley; Jordan Rees (D.Guarneri), M.Griffiths; I.James, S.Crocker (I.Jones), L.Tobias (S.Jones); R.Morgan, J.Barley (J.Blackmore); L.Ward, T.Antozzi, S.Malone

TREBANOS – T.Dew; R.Bruton, D.Skone, S.Lewis, J.Ferryman; S.Duggan, J.Weaver; C.Forshaw, R.Thomas (capt), R.Evans; E.Morgan, C.Michael; I.Davies, D.Hills, R.George Repl. O.Kennerley, S.Howard, D.Worth, C.Warlow, I.Davies

Referee – Mr. K.Shorte (Cardiff)

Photos courtesy of Len Kowalski of


The season proper begins for Neath when they visit Trebanos on Saturday in the Championship (kick off – 2.30pm).

After three pre-season wins over London Welsh (33-5), Resolven (43-nil) and, most impressively, Swansea (23-19), the really serious business starts now for the Blacks.

Coaches Pat Horgan, Matthew Jones and Andrew Howell ran their eyes over 33 players in the three warm-ups and only four changes are made to the side which started against Swansea with Jarrad Rees coming in at centre, Jordan Rees and Macauley Griffiths linking up again at half back and Argentine flanker Tomi Antozzi debuting at flanker.

Head coach Pat Horgan emphasised, “We have seen a lot of players so far and we will continue to rotate but we also need to establish team patterns early on.

“There will be disappointments for those not involved this week but the Championship is probably the toughest it has ever been and we will need a big squad.

“The League will define our season and it is important that we start well against Trebanos who we know are an enterprising side and will be a stiff proposition.

“Swansea was a proud accomplishment but we are all about improving and raising standards to a level where we are a team to be reckoned with again. We must make sides work harder to score against us and we must become more clinical ourselves.”

Neath v Trebanos (Away) 2.30pm
15 Aaron Bramwell; 14 Luke Griffiths, 13 Jarrad Rees, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Will Holley; 10 Jordan Rees, 9 Macauley Griffiths; 1 Ifan James, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Liam Tobias; 4 Rhys Morgan, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Scott Malone, 8 David Griggs/Leon Ward, 7 Tomi Antozzi
Replacements – 16 Steffan Jones, 17 Iestyn Jones, 18 Jacob Blackmore, 19 Dan Guarneri, 20 Ben Atkins


On the eve of the season’s opening at Trebanos tomorrow, Neath have confirmed the re-appointment of Aaron Bramwell as captain for 2019/20.

The Cimla-based custodian will be fit to play in the Blacks’ championship-opener at Trebanos on Saturday despite having left the field mid-way through the second-half of Neath’s impressive 23-19 win over Swansea last Thursday.

Coach Pat Horgan said, “It was probably the worst-kept rugby secret in Neath that Aaron would continue as captain. He wears his heart on his sleeve, is Neath through and through and along with the rest of us, is totally committed to putting Neath on the rugby map again, doing excellent work with the Neath Under-15’s team.”

Neath secretary Mike Price said, “Aaron is only the fifth full back since the War to captain Neath. He follows in some famous footsteps as the others were Viv Evans (1947/48), Grahame Hodgson (1964/65), Wynne Davies (1976/77) and Paul Thorburn (1987/88). In that respect, he has a lot to live up to but he has already shown the determination to do so and shares our vision of getting Neath back to the top.”

Photo courtesy of Len Kowalski of


Neath have added another player to their back row strength with the arrival of Argentinian back row forward Tomi Antozzi.

The 25 year old comes to The Gnoll on the recommendation of Ospreys Argentinian No.8 Guido Volpi who made a big impression for Neath at the tail end of last season.

Tomi has played abroad before, turning out for East Tigers in Brisbane and for the top New South Wales side Manly, a club famed for producing top back rowers like the Aussie internationals Michael Hooper and Wycliff Palu.

Tomi has an Italian passport and, when Neath learned of his eligibility and intention to come to Wales and play a bit of rugby, contact was immediately made.

He has the versatility to play across the back row where David Griggs and Scott Malone, try-scorers in the win over Swansea, have already made their mark.

One thing is certain – if Tomi makes as good an impression as did Guido, Gnoll followers will be well pleased.

Coach Pat Horgan said, “We are delighted to welcome Tomi on board and he is already settled in. He will give us an additional selection option for the opening of the League campaign at Trebanos on Saturday.”


Neath RFC send their deepest sympathy to Bridgend RFC and the family of their chairman Derrick King who has passed away after a long illness.

Neath secretary Mike Price said, “Derrick was a true gentleman and a great friend. I have known him for a long time – throughout his 26 years as chairman of Bridgend in fact – and had total respect for him and what he did to sustain Bridgend RFC.

“Supporters rightly acknowledge the efforts of players on the field but Derrick was a real off-field warrior for his club. He had been through some tough rugby times with Bridgend but his allegiance, humour and optimism never wavered. It was this spirit which helped carry him through his illness which he fought bravely for a long time.

“Visits to the Brewery Field will not be the same without his presence and our deepest condolences extend to his family and friends too.”


Neath RFC season tickets covering all 13 Championship home fixtures are still available for purchase (£80 standard adult and £175 hospitality)  – application forms may be downloaded here and are also available via the Clubhouse.

Season Tickets are now available for collection from the Dressing-Room stand at The Gnoll on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 7pm and 8pm.



Neath made it a hat-trick of pre-season wins when they defeated Swansea in a keenly fought encounter at The Gnoll.

These two oldest rivals produced an engrossing game, the lead see-sawing throughout an old-fashioned intense and competitive local derby with both defences eagerly out of the blocks to cut down attacks and force the error.

Neath started strongly going though the phases but when play switched to the other end, a Neath mis-kick led to Swansea opening the scoring with an unconverted forward try credited to back rower Jon Fox.

The Blacks hit back with a penalty by outside-half Dan Guarneri and, after the strong home scrum had twice rocketed Swansea backwards, No.8 David Griggs was on hand to touch down at the posts for Guarneri to convert and give Neath the lead at 10-3.

Neath kept up the pressure – the front row of Ifan James, Sion Crocker and Liam Tobias solid in the scrums, line-out men Rhys Morgan and Jon Barley (with the help of their cohorts) doing some fine work and the back row as usual doing what is expected of them in attack and defence.

Behind them, Nicky Griffiths provided direction from scrum-half and centres Ben Atkins and Matthew Pearce are rapidly building up a good understanding. A Griffiths-inspired break by Nicky and wing Luke saw Neath attack and the pragmatic Blacks got their reward when Guarneri slotted his second penalty for a 13-5 half-time lead.

Swansea came out firing after the break and a charged down kick led to a try by centre Gareth Rees which outside-half James Davies converted and they stretched their advantage when No.8 Jon Fox barged over following a line-out drive. Davies’ conversion made it 19-13 to the visitors and the game was back in the balance.

But the Blacks were not to be out-done. They roared on to the attack and forward power again produced dividends when flanker Scott Malone got the second try, Guarneri adding the points to give Neath a slender one-point advantage.

It was pulsating stuff of thrust and counter-thrust but Neath have worked very hard this summer under fitness guru Idris Hanmer and the home side were finishing stronger – the ability to out-last opponents will serve them well ! The Blacks got their reward when winger Luke Griffiths landed a beautiful penalty from 40 metres which made it 23-19.

On the back of a penalty award – Neath discipline must be spot-on – Swansea forced a line-out near the Neath line-out but the home defence was organised and secure; they stemmed the drive and Swansea, forced to move the ball, were rightly penalised for crossing by referee Mr. Gwyn Morris who is already in good early-season form.

The last five minutes were played out deep in Swansea territory. The Whites had possession but when they tried to work the ball into space they could make no headway against tigerish Neath tackling which suggests that this new-look side is developing the character, resolution and will to win which the supporters admire.

All told, it was a good performance by the emerging Neath side. Nobody at The Gnoll will be carried away by their pre-season hat-trick – victories over London Welsh, Resolven and now Swansea have made for a promising pre-season but it will count for nothing without achievement once the League starts.

But, if Neath can build on this start, step up the fitness further, continue their set-piece prowess, reduce the errors and make opponents work harder for points, 2019/20 may yet turn out to be an enjoyable season.

NEATH – A.Bramwell (capt); L.Griffiths, B.Atkins, M.Pearce, W.Holley; D.Guarneri, N.Griffiths; I.James, S.Crocker, L.Tobias; R.Morgan, J.Barley; S.Malone, D.Griggs, J.Hill
SWANSEA – D.Thomas; R.Griffiths, K.Charles, R.Williams, N.Trowbridge; S.Williams, T.Ham; T.Northey, M.Moore, A.Dew; O.Morgan, S.O’Rourke; D.Eager, J.Fox, C.Bowden
Referee – Mr. G.Morris (Cardiff)

Photos courtesy of Len Kowalski of


Neath’s build up to the new season steps up a gear when they take on Swansea at The Gnoll on Thursday evening (kick off – 7.15pm).

In the wins over London Welsh (33-5) and Resolven (43-nil), coaches Pat Horgan, Matthew Jones and Andrew Howell have run their eyes over 32 players and for this game scrum-half Nicky Griffiths returns for his first start while another newcomer may come into the back row.

Head coach Pat Horgan said, “The two wins against London Welsh and Resolven were encouraging but the squad knows that we have some stiff challenges ahead of us.

“Swansea will be a real test of where we are – it is all about improving and raising standards.”

Neath v Swansea (Home) 7.15pm
15 Aaron Bramwell; 14 Luke Griffiths, 13 Ben Atkins, 12 Matthew Pearce, 11 Will Holley; 10 Dan Guarneri, 9 Nicky Griffiths; 1 Ifan James, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Liam Tobias; 4 Rhys Morgan, 5 Jon Barley; 6 Scott Malone, 8 David Griggs, 7 A.N.Other
Replacements – TBC