Dunvant hard at work on the dream routine

In rugby union it is Advent, not Christmas, that is the season of excess and after week upon week of international matches, Murrayfield followed by Cardiff Arms Park, Lansdowne Road, Twickenham and even Besancon, it was somehow appropriate to retu rn to a humbler setting for Yuletide.

Not that there is anything humble about the achievements of Dunvant, the club who before any other exploited the meritocracy that arrived in Wales along with the Heineken League in 1990. This is their second season in the First Division and after saving their place by beating Bridgend on the last day of last season, they have now reached the unimaginable heights of sixth.

On Christmas Eve Bridgend came back to Broadacre and lost again, by 10-6, and though they are third, distantly behind Cardiff and Pontypridd, there was no disgrace in that. Where once such a result, upstart minnows devouring a traditionally big fish, would have been a sensation, now it is familiar and not especially noteworthy.

Only Heineken could have done this, or at any rate only a proper, meritocratic league structure, and now that the Welsh Rugby Union has extended the Heineken League to include all its clubs, it is the realisable dream of any of the 220 to become another Dunvant.

This season Dunvant have been joined by Treorchy among the new generation of challengers, as beneficiaries and even activators of an evolution which at its starkest has seen Glamorgan Wanderers and Tredegar of the old self-perpetuating elite drift into the nether regions of the Third Division while Dunvant and Treorchy reach the summit represented by the First.

The hard part is to make their victories routine - which is what the weekly grind of league rugby has to be about, unlike the one-off cup successes over supposed superiors with which Dunvant decorated Welsh rugby during the years immediately before the birth of the league. And, though the defeat of Bridgend was greeted with jubilation, the wondrous thing is that it really is beginning to happen on an almost regular basis.

Thus Bridgend's scalp was added to those of Newport, Pontypool, Abertillery and none other than Pontypridd, who have won all 10 First Division matches since succumbing at Broadacre in September. Five wins, a draw at Neath and six defeats together mark steady progress, and when you find out exactly who and what Dunvant are you recognise why there is hope for anyone.

They used to line up low-loader lorries and double-decker buses to accommodate spectators at important matches; now they have a new stand with capacity for enlargement and most other facilities have been enhanced too. They have three pitches and run as many as a dozen teams each weekend.

Yet this is just a village, more a suburb really, on the edge of Swansea, no more than four miles from big brother at St Helen's. Last season Swansea won by a single point at Broadacre on their way to the championship; Cardiff fared one point better, others such as Newport, Newbridge and Pontypool considerably worse.

As these games as well as their latest defeat of Bridgend demonstrated, Dunvant have long since shed any vestige of inferiority complex. They are playing the likes of Bridgend because they deserve to, and they beat Bridgend for the very same reason. Their effort is collective, meaning both team and club, and there is no personality cult because the team is so much more important than any individual.

How refreshing. On Christmas Eve, it was best personified by a marvellously dogged and rugged back row whose extra hunger for the loose ball enabled Dunvant to get sufficiently the better of the forward exchanges for them first to build a lead and then to hang on to it.

Their try came in six minutes, the ball passing between Nicky Lloyd, Wayne Booth and Gavin Davies before Warren Lloyd arced outside Davies and, having opened a gap with a dummy, went through it with aplomb. Booth converted and thereafter the scoring was confined to penalties, Jason Ball's for Bridgend followed in the second half by a captain's kick from 55 yards by Dean Evans for Dunvant and lastly Ball's second.

Bridgend had plenty of the game territorially but they looked nothing like as dangerous as Dunvant in attack, were suspect in their discipline and seldom created the flowing threequarter rugby of which they like to think themselves capable.

Indeed before the match one Bridgend official was claiming the backs as the most exciting in Wales, a theory that foundered initially on the obsessive intrusion of their own loose forwards into promising handling movements and then on the destructive capacity of the Dunvant forwards, especially Paul Morris and Ian Callaghan.

The same man did concede that the best would not be seen of the backs until the Bridgend pack could ply them more liberally, a failing put down to the inexperience of an otherwise promising front five.

In which case time will tell, but the task for Steve Fenwick, eminent Wales centre of the Seventies and now Bridgend's club director, is not - and will not be - easy in an age when the hunt for talent is more voraciously ruthless, and one might say venal, than it has ever been.

Thus the bigger clubs monopolise the bigger forwards and, in the Welsh league no less than any other competition you care to name - from Murrayfield to Cardiff Arms Park, Lansdowne Road, Twickenham and even Besancon - size more than ever equates with strength. More's the pity.

Dunvant: Try W Lloyd; Conversion Booth; Penalty Evans. Bridgend: Penalties Ball 2.

Dunvant: D Evans (capt); P Hopkins, G Davies (M Thomas 72), W Lloyd, S Morgan; W Booth (C Hutchings, 23-30), N Lloyd; M Waygood (A Piper, 35), M Davies, K Allan, D Niblo, A Gregory, I Callaghan, P Morris (C Davies, 66), R Greenwood.

Bridgend: M Back; G Thomas, G Jones, J Ball, G Willins; M Lewis, R Howley (capt); D Rees, I Greenslade, S Gale, S Thomas, E Williams, J Purnell, A Williams (N Jones, 59), J Forster.

Referee: D Bevan (Clydach).

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star