Rugby Union: Jenkins faces difficult decision

Pontypridd 18 Northern Bulls 0
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The Independent Online
No sooner had the Pontypridd fans roared their approval for another Neil Jenkins inspired victory than the home hero was confirming everyone's worst fears - he has had a substantial offer to play for Bath next season.

It promises to be an agonising run into the end of the season at Sardis Road. The reigning Welsh champions might still be in the hunt to win the league, cup and the Welsh Rugby Union Challenge Trophy, but May is the month earmarked by Jenkins as the date for his decision.

If he opts to cross the Severn Bridge then he will go with everyone's blessing, even if he will break the hearts of thousands of Welsh fans as well as the British transfer record.

"It has been a difficult week for me and it was nice to get 80 minutes of rugby under my belt and not be pestered," Jenkins said.

"I have been offered something by Bath, but the decision won't be made until May or possibly June or July. In rugby terms it is difficult to leave a place like Pontypridd and it would be a hell of a wrench for me."

The big question, though, is will his departure be the breaking of Pontypridd? There is little doubt the club has something special and is without doubt the best organised and run outfit in Wales.

Anyone who witnessed their three epic clashes with the Heineken Cup holders, Brive, this season could see they are right up there with the best teams in Europe. This win over a South African Super 12 side proves they are capable of holding their own in any company.

But what will Jenkins' departure mean? The biggest worry for everyone in Wales is that it will mark the launch of an even bigger raid on the riches of Welsh rugby than in the old days of rugby league.

The rumour mongers have Jenkins' half-back partner Paul John finally on his way to the French club Castres; the club coach, Dennis John, considering an offer from Cardiff and the home-grown talent of Gareth Wyatt, Kevin Morgan and Martyn Williams under close scrutiny from all and sundry.

But whatever the future holds for Ponty, they are still in their greatest period of success. It may have taken six penalties from the red-headed jewel, but the whole side were magnificent as they more than matched the power of the Super 12 Bulls.

Pontypridd: Penalties Jenkins 6.

Pontypridd: K Morgan; D Manley, D James, S Lewis, G Wyatt; N Jenkins (capt), Paul John; A Griffiths (N Eynon, 64), Phil John (A Lamerton, 64), M Griffiths, G Prosser, M Rowley (S Roy 72), M Lloyd, D McIntosh, M Williams.

Northern Bulls: C Steyn; R Potgieter, G Esterhuizen, Gerhard Bouwer (D Van Schwalwyk, 47), L Van Riet; Graeme Bouwer, C Breytenbach; P Ribbens, J Brooks (H Kemp, 73), P Boer, D Grobbelaar (capt), G Laufs, N Van der Walt, C Oosthuizen, S Bekker (J Otto, 59).

Referee: W Bevan (Clydach).

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