Narberth RFC are the latest club to celebrate the 2019/20 rugby season after being curtailed by the Coronavirus epidemic.

The Otters celebrated another successful campaign in the highly competitive Championship Division of the Welsh Rugby Union pyramid system.

The evening was organised on Zoom, with over 30 players and officials involved after some good organisational work from points-scoring fullback Nick Gale.

Unable to attend was long-serving club president  Dorian Howells, a magnificent club servant over so many years, and everyone agreed the evening was a resounding success.

Like club annual dinner awards' evenings, the Master of Ceremonies was Rob ‘Basher’ Lewis but, unlike other years, Rob’s involvement at The Lewis Lloyd Ground was also recognised on the evening by his elevation to the role of chairman, which will have to be ratified at a forthcoming AGM.

He takes over from Dorian Phillips, who has served for successive two-year stints and it is nice to report that both stalwarts were in the first Narberth Youth team to win the Pembrokeshire Youth Cup in 1971, almost 50 years ago.

‘Basher’ thanked the club’s sponsors, ground staff, programme compiler Ken Mathias, stewardess Sheena Conbeer and bar staff,  Freeman Brawn (Announcer), supporters and everyone else who has worked tirelessly to maintain The Otters’ place at such a high level.

He handed over to Dorian Phillips, who amongst other matters reported that the second XV enjoyed a successful campaign and were top of the West Wales Conference when the season was brought to a halt.

The youth team had reached  the semi-finals of the Welsh Youth Cup and  only two days before lockdown had won the Scarlets’ Region Cup Final in atrocious conditions – only to be denied the chance to take on the top sides in the other regions.

He thanked everyone for their work in both these areas of the club, including James Merriman, Jason Jennings and Bill Ridge (second XV); Randal Evans and Shane Higgon (youth XV), alongside the thriving junior section.

Then it was on to Sean Gale, the club’s director of rugby and forwards’ coach, who congratulated his players for an excellent season and thanked his coaching staff for their support. These included backs coach Deiniol Evans, Jonathan Dodd (Fitness and Defence) and Chris James (Team Manager).

He reported that at the time of the season being prematurely ended his team were in sixth place but had a game in hand over fifth placed Neath.

Indeed, Narberth’s epic win at The Gnoll against the mighty Welsh All Blacks was one of the highlights of the season, alongside another away win at Ystrad Rhondda, and an epic fight back for a 20-19 home win over Cross Keys.

Talented back-rower Roy Osborn had an evening to remember since his outstanding performances saw him chosen as ‘Player of the Year’ by the coaching staff and he doubled up with the ‘Most Man of the Match’ awards trophy by dint of the fact that in the 16 league matches played he was chosen for the accolade on four occasions.
The ‘Players’ Player’ award, often the most coveted at any club, was presented to Osborn’s fellow back-rower Tom Powell – and one of the most popular awards of the evening, the ‘Club Loyalty Award’, went to long-serving prop Tom Slater, who has already racked up over 200 first-team appearances.

Other awards went to winger/centre Josh Davies as the most promising newcomer and centre Joe Hutchings for being the top try scorer after scoring six tries in a truncated season.

In an informal setting some wore headgear of their choice and appeared with dummies to help celebrate the birth of skipper Richard Rees’ new-born son.

Half back Jonathan Rogers led the post-presentation festivities and, judging by the ‘Zoom’ pictures it continued to be quite a night.