IT should have been a joyous occasion as Crymych lifted the 2021/22 Pembrokeshire Cup after beating Aberystwyth 31-23, however a dispute between Pembrokeshire District Rugby Union and one of the leading clubs in the county rumbles on.

In one of the most important encounters during Aberystwyth’s run to the final they narrowly defeated Tenby 20-18 in a tense quarter-final encounter back in February.

However the key issue in the dispute is whether Aber should have played Tenby at all after the Seasiders were allowed to advance to the quarters despite having lost to Narberth.

Narberth defeated Tenby 32-10 in round one, however after a committee meeting in November last year Pembrokeshire and District Rugby Union decided that Narberth had failed to meet with an agreement set in place after they re-joined the knock-out cup.

Narberth withdrew from the Pembrokeshire Cup in 2014/15 when they became a Championship team – the only side in Pembrokeshire to be in the WRU Championship.

It was felt that Narberth were too strong to compete in the cup after moving up a tier from the rest of the teams in the county.

Then Narberth chose to re-apply for the cup this season 2021/22, largely in order to give game time to their young and upcoming players.

So an agreement was made whereby Narberth would play no players involved with the first team.

That agreement was short-lived, with Narberth kicked out the cup after round 1 of the competition, having been adjudged to have fielded three first-team players when they beat Tenby 32-10 at the Lloyd Lewis Ground in October, 2021.

The players in question were said to be Josh Hayman, Ryan Scourfield and Tom Clark.

Western Telegraph: The team that beat Tenby 32-10 in round 1 and then were subsequently kicked out the cupThe team that beat Tenby 32-10 in round 1 and then were subsequently kicked out the cup

Why bring it to light now?

The Western Telegraph has recently received a three-page document from Narberth with the club outlining their specific interpretation of the agreement.

The club are looking to clear their name after they feel their reputation has been sullied.

The document opens by saying: “While Narberth RFC is acutely aware of the WRU’s Code of Conduct Regulations relating to not engaging in public criticism of any club officials which might be improper or that has the potential to bring the game of rugby union into dispute, the club believes that it cannot be in breach of those regulations by merely reporting the sequence of events which have occurred and at the same time attempting to clear the club’s name when it has been accused of cheating and/or playing illegal players.”

It is strong words from the Otters, which went one step further with solicitors being called in over concerns about loss of income – Narberth make over £1,000 per game in proceeds and a cup semi-final or final would have been a nice payday for the club.

Narberth has stated their interpretation of this season’s agreement, saying: “In July 2021 the club advised the district union that the team would consist only of players who had come through the Club’s Junior/Youth Section, or players who had not represented the club in the Championship.

“The club highlighted and underlined the word “or” to emphasis the club’s interpretation of two distinct groups of players who would take part, i.e the club’s former Junior/Youth players whether or not they had played in the Championship Division, or players who may have joined the club at senior level but not taken part in a Championship match.”

What do the two sides say

“Narberth are semi-pro. No one would turn up and play. It would make a mockery of the cup.”

Chairman of Narberth RFC, Rob Lewis spoke to the Western Telegraph saying the most frustrating thing about all this is the club cannot speak to the committee.

“What we were disappointed about was the executive committee made the decision and have argued it is all the clubs who decide, but they were the ones who took the decision,” said Mr Lewis.

“We are trying to find out why they think the players were ineligible and no explanation has been given.”

Mr Lewis went on by describing what the agreement was between Narberth and the county.

“Our interpretation of the agreement is anyone who has not played in the Championship or has come through our youth and junior sections should be eligible to play.

“We should be allowed to play anyone in our youth system regardless if they have played in the Championship or not.”

President of Pembrokeshire District and Rugby Union Bryan Davies responded to these claims saying that if Narberth were allowed to continue in the cup, it would have become a ‘mockery’.

“They dishonoured the rules and you accept what happens as decided by the committee and move on,” said Mr Davies.

“The agreement was they play the players that come up through their junior ranks but they did not play players that came up through the ranks. 

“Narberth are semi-pro. No one would turn up and play. It would make a mockery of the cup.”

Mr Davies did emphasise that no matter the outcome of the dispute, it is in Narberth’s rights that they can enter the cup next season.