CHRIS KIRWAN: Ponty reign supreme but toppling them isn't mission impossible

Pontypridd v Cross Keys
Tom Lampard is wrestled to the ground (6311366)

Pontypridd v Cross Keys Tom Lampard is wrestled to the ground (6311366)

First published 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 (3)

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1:21pm Thu 22 May 14

risca dragons says...

Fair play to Ponty they can win trophys and win the league but what about developing talent for the future??! The whole reason the premiersip exists in its current form. I struggle to think of anybody developed to be U20 or full international in the last 5 years??!
Fair play to Ponty they can win trophys and win the league but what about developing talent for the future??! The whole reason the premiersip exists in its current form. I struggle to think of anybody developed to be U20 or full international in the last 5 years??! risca dragons
  • Score: 2

8:11pm Thu 22 May 14

Robert Shillabeer says...

In fairness they are a very good outfit and too be honest aren't interested in supplying regional players because of what happened to the Warriors. They are doing nicely with the side they have and are odds on to be there or thereabouts again next year. They must be paying thier players that little bit more than the other Prem sides and as they win most games are able to attract good players. That means the other Prem sides need to up thier game and compete with them.
In fairness they are a very good outfit and too be honest aren't interested in supplying regional players because of what happened to the Warriors. They are doing nicely with the side they have and are odds on to be there or thereabouts again next year. They must be paying thier players that little bit more than the other Prem sides and as they win most games are able to attract good players. That means the other Prem sides need to up thier game and compete with them. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 1

12:09am Fri 23 May 14

davies_c14 says...

When you think about it, they have one hell of a catchment area to get players from, basically the whole of the Rhonnda valley!
But, rugby like most things goes in cycles! Ask neath, newport, swansea etc.
When you think about it, they have one hell of a catchment area to get players from, basically the whole of the Rhonnda valley! But, rugby like most things goes in cycles! Ask neath, newport, swansea etc. davies_c14
  • Score: 0

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