Indigo Group Premiership kicks off under TV lights

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The Indigo Group Premiership is back after an 18-month absence, with Aberavon and Swansea getting us underway on Thursday evening, live on S4C. Robert Rees looks ahead at the upcoming season. 

Shortened season

With the season kicking off in December there is a one-off format to aid the season surrounding Covid. There is no relegation or promotion, supported by a majority of clubs around Wales, only Pontypool voicing their displeasure publicly.

There will also be just 11 games. Clubs will face every team, but home OR away.

S4C are going to televise some Indigo Group Premiership games, with some tasty derbies already lined up for their coverage;

  • December 9, Aberavon v Swansea, 7.30
  • December 16, Carmarthen Quins v Llanelli, 7.30
  • December 27, Ebbw Vale v Newport, 2.30
  • January 3, Llanelli v RGC, 5.30
  • January 13, Bridgend v Pontypridd, 7.30
  • January 27, Cardiff v Ebbw Vale, 7.30

Aberavon

The Wizards have had a strong start to their season, losing only two games and finishing one point behind West conference table toppers Llandovery. A home tie on the tele is a sure way to get them rallied up ahead of a big season ahead.

Player to watch: Geraint James

Projected position: 4th

Pack rating: ★★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★★

Bridgend Ravens

A dangerous looking side, who have strengthened well since the 2019-20 was called off. Hosts to the craziest, yet possibly the greatest try you’ll ever see via Edd Howley’s noggin, Bridge will be looking to take a few few scalps and repeat some quality form that has seen them overhaul Llandovery this season.

Player to watch: Edd Howley

Projected position: 9th

Pack rating: ★★★

Backs rating: ★★★

Cardiff

The pace-setters in the past few season, Cardiff have been fought off to the top spot of the eastern conference this season by Newport, but still remain a huge threat. With the likes of Dan Fish pulling the strings and a large forward presence the Blue & Blacks will be a very difficult contest for everyone.

Player to watch: Theo Cabango

Projected position: 3rd

Pack rating: ★★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★★★

Carmarthen Quins

With a 6-4 record it may be difficult to gauge just how good Quins may be, but with a solid set piece and backs that can hurt you, never write off Carmarthen. The Park is a notoriously difficult away trip and they know how to play conditions, something which always tells in Welsh winters.

Player to watch: Ed Siggery

Projected position: 6th

Pack rating: ★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★

Ebbw Vale

The Steelmen have had a very turbulent season after winning their two opening games. Eight consecutive losses on the bounce have seen them drop to the foot of the east division table. With their entire coaching setup changed and Jason Strange back at the helm they’ll be hoping for better fortunes.

Player to watch: Joe Westwood

Projected position: 11th

Pack rating: ★★

Backs rating: ★★★

Ebbw supporters in good spirits at Newport Stadium, Credit @seanalf

Llandovery

West conference leaders, Llandovery have set the precedent early doors, claiming 42/50 points, losing just once. With Lee Rees driving their attack, you can see how they’ll be a threat to everyone they face. Clashes with Newport and Cardiff will be very tasty.

Player to watch: Lee Rees

Projected position: 2nd

Pack rating: ★★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★★★

Llanelli

The only winless side left out of the 12 Premiership clubs, Llanelli could be in for a hard time if that doesn’t change. They’ve often pushed for 40 minutes, but lack true depth to compete over the full 80. They’ll want to improve before relegation returns to avoid another play-off.

Player to watch: Morgan MacRae

Projected position: 12th

Pack rating: ★

Backs rating: ★★

Merthyr

The Ironmen have once looked good, finishing 3rd in a strong eastern division. Craig Locke has got the pack rolling on as usual whilst Gareth Thompson is relishing his season following his departure from Cardiff.

Player to watch: Gareth Thompson

Projected position: 5th

Pack rating: ★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★★

Newport

The best club side in Wales right now, although Llandovery will disagree I’m sure. Tyron Morris has created a dangerous beast, with a juggernaut-like rolling maul complementing a back line full of Premiership stars. Lookout for when the Black and Ambers clash with the Drovers.

Player to watch: Luke Crane

Projected position: 1st

Pack rating: ★★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★★★

Pontypridd

Justin Burnell experimented with a young squad this season, led by his son and Wales U20s fly half Ben. It’s paid off, some cracking young talent like Ieuan Morris, Ben Burnell have complemented old heads superbly, Dale Stuckey hasn’t forgotten where the try line is!

Player to watch: Ben Stephens

Projected position: 7th

Pack rating: ★★★★

Backs rating: ★★★

RGC

RGC have also looked at developing a young squad this season and enjoyed plenty of success in the latter half of their nine games. Doing a double over Ebbw and knocking off leaders Newport huge scalps for the North Walians. Ceri Jones has created a very good side that most will struggle to face.

Player to watch: Ethan Fackrell

Projected position: 8th

Pack rating: ★★★

Backs rating: ★★★

Swansea

Swansea may have only won 3 games this season, but they have lost a few games within a score, falling just shy against Bridgend courtesy of Mr Howley. St Helens is never an easy place to go and with a strong ball in hand game the All Whites will look to advance up the table come Xmas.

Player to watch: Gareth Rees

Projected position: 10th

Pack rating: ★★

Backs rating: ★★★

 

“Main photo credit”

Indigo Group Premiership captains at the launch, credit WRU