CHRIS KIRWAN: Ponty reign supreme but toppling them isn't mission impossible
10:02am Thursday 22nd May 2014 in Sport
HOW can anyone stop Pontypridd? A question that leaves the rest of the Premiership scratching their heads.
The champions' 11 rivals have already been busy in the recruitment market and there will be more movement over a busy summer, yet it will be a brave man that bets against a third successive double for the men from Sardis Road in 2014/15.
They've topped the table for the past four years, won three titles on the spin, a pair of Swalec Cups and are undoubtedly one of Welsh rugby's success stories; a well-run, well-sponsored club that thrive at semi-professional level and provide players that have the potential to possibly make it as lower-end full-timers.
Plenty of Premiership clubs and the ambitious Championship ones know that there is much to be learnt from the Ponty blueprint.
Celebrations weren't over the top when they beat Cross Keys to win the double on Sunday because Ponty wanted the Premiership grand final to be the aperitif.
Leeds take on Leinster A in the final of the British and Irish Cup on Friday. How Ponty, beaten by the Dubliners on try count, would have loved the Yorkshiremen to be heading to the 'House of Pain' rather than Donnybrook for the right to lift the trophy.
That Pontypridd can impressively chase trophies on three fronts shows the size of the gap that the rest of the semi-pro game is trying to close, but it is a gap that can be bridged.
Ponty had a big say in who topped the table in the first season that I covered rugby for the Argus but they weren't the team to beat back then.
In 2006/7 it was Neath that were the standard bearers yet they were pushed hard by third-placed Newport and particularly second-placed Ebbw Vale.
The Steelmen finished two points back on the Welsh All Blacks and may have won the title were it not for a controversial try in a tight encounter at Sardis Road that started with an illegal quick lineout by Andrew Jenkins (who would go on to join Ebbw).
Ponty finished fourth that season but were a pretty similar side to the current version and, unlike the three clubs above them seven years ago, have profited from continuity.
They don't have a mammoth budget (they do pay well and look after their squad but rivals often try and tempt their players with bigger offers) and their success helps attract quality.
They tap into the local market well to unearth talent, are coached well, have an excellent succession plan and there is undeniably a pride in wearing the jersey.
None of those things are unique to Ponty and it is telling that Premiership returnees Ebbw Vale – who have a devoted fanbase to rival the Sardis faithful – have used a similar plan to fight back after being a shambles when they dropped out of the top flight.
You can bet that the rest of the Premiership will be attempting to replicate many aspects of what the champions do so well and they just have to keep plugging away.
It will be tough for another team to be celebrating in May 2015, but certainly not impossible.
Comments are closed on this article.