"Editor's Comments & Welcome"
"A big welcome to this evening's visitors, Newport R.F.C. Under the astute eye of Tony Brown, Newport have now re-emerged as one of the leaders of the Welsh rugby club scene. Having gone through a very mediocre patch in the middle and late nineties, Newport has in recent times really been a sleeping giant - but is fast awakening."
"But Gwent being Gwent, rivalries are bound to exist - and none more so than the rivalry between Ebbw Vale and Newport. To us at the top end of the valley, this is THE local derby!"
"Funnily enough since the 1995/96 season, things have been reasonably even Stephen between us - in the league we have played 13 local derbies, Ebbw Vale winning 6 of those, and Newport seven, with none drawn!"
"Head to Head"
"Ebbw did the double over Newport in the 1997/98 season, whilst Newport had their revenge in that department last season."
"Ebbw will have to be on top form today to prevent Newport achieving another double, but the lads have been playing very well of late so here comes another local derby."
"GWENT RUGBY A MOVING EXPERIENCE"
"There have been as many soap-boxes in Welsh rugby as those at Speaker's Corner at Marble Arch. Everybody has something to sell but thankfully only a few have proposed selling others down the river. We are such a tight rugby community in Wales that one would imagine there was a common agenda when it comes to running the game, but even South Wales is divisive, coast v valley, town v city, east y west, and so on. Tribalism outsiders call it, but Scotland has its tribes too and when the clans combine at Murrayfield everyone is Scottish. So it is when Wales play at the Arms Park, it's the club scene that seems to be split into little pieces of shrapnel."
"Shot and shell has been firing over our heads for most of this season and those under fire have looked for support and words of encouragement. Great men from the past have been quoted, their words changed to suit our crisis, for example - "Never in the field of rugby conflict have so many been targeted by so few". But faith can move mountains they say and we believe - what else can we do? - that we will be playing top rugby again next year. What we would like is a sense of permanency, not just for a year but for as long as we work hard and dedicate our lives to preserving the game in our very large catchment area. That's not too much to ask is it?"
"Shane Howarth will know the Haka well, but for the few who cannot speak Maori, it begins with 'Kamate! Kamate! Kaora! Kaora!' Translation - "It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life". Being thrown out of the premier league means death, being kept in thanks to common sense means life, and it does no harm to remind those with clout how to use it."
"Being so close as clubs, socially and geographically, it is little wonder that players move around. I remember in the 80s the shock we had when two Tredegar boys, Welsh Youth caps, were recruited by Neath. That was miles and miles away from their natural habitat we thought, surely Tredegar lads stay in their own backyard. Twenty years later we have players recruited from places very few of us have heard of or could spell! Until the Tongans came the only person from there we had knowledge of was Queen Salote who was the star of the Coronation procession in 1953 - in glorious black and white."
"The Southern Hemisphere might become de-populated by players heading north, but there are still swops among clubs within an hour or so of each other. Newport and Ebbw Vale can list players who played for both clubs, sometimes more than once. Jason Strange, Shaun Connor and Gareth Cull have played for both clubs as well as Llanelli, Neath and Bridgend respectively."
"In the first season of the Welsh/Scottish League, 1999/2000, Gareth kicked the goals for Newport to beat Cardiff and the season before that he landed five penalty goals for Bridgend in their defeat here 23-20, a victory for Ebbw secured three minutes into injury time by Byron Hayward who dropped a goal way out on the touchline. Byron has played for Abertillery, Newbridge, Newport, Ebbw Vale, Llanelli and Gloucester and is now at Pontypool."
"In the first of our two games with Newport in 1998/99, Byron scored 27 points (including three tries) in a remarkable 57-17 victory over Newport and in the return at Rodney Parade, one Shaun Connor dropped an 86th minute goal to exact revenge leaving everybody shell-shocked, breathless and the Scoreboard reading Newport 30 Ebbw Vale 29. Long, long before all that a giant lock called Ben Edwards played for both of our clubs and once for Wales when his penalty goal won the game against Ireland. He was then dropped! Today ace kickers never get kicked out, they are worth their weight in rands, dollars and - soon - Euros."