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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?