Rugby Union: Preparations underway for new season as fixtures are announced
Sport | | Published: 18:00, Wednesday July 19th, 2017.
Clubs across Caerphilly County Borough are in the midst of their pre-season preparations as they gear up for the 2017/18 season launch.
It will only have been 97 days since Merthyr lifted the Principality Premiership Tier One title when the top-flight competition returns on Saturday, August 26, with clubs across the divisional pyramid putting players through gruelling fitness tests, building squads, and putting the finishing touches on preparations.
Last month, the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed the fixture list for the upcoming season, with a number of local derbies, rival clashes, and seasonal fixtures catching the eye.
In the revamped Principality Premiership, the Eastern conference once again pits the likes of Bargoed, Bedwas, and Cross Keys against one another.
Keys travel to The Wern on the opening day as Merthyr begin the defence of their title, before hosting Bargoed the following week.
Bedwas, who fell to Aberavon in the play-off semi-final last season, have a tough start.
Beginning at Pontypridd, they welcome Tier Two winners and local rivals Newport to the Bridge Field before facing Merthyr, Bargoed and Cross Keys in quick succession.
In the Championship, Newbridge will hope to avoid their struggles of last year with victory away at Narberth on September 2.
While in Division 1 East, National Plate holders Penallta look to improve on their second-placed finish, travelling to Risca on the opening day before two matches against Nelson and newly-promoted Croesyceiliog.
Senghenydd, who were relegated to Division 2 East, begin their campaign against the other side to drop a division in Nantyglo, as Abercarn take on Ynysddu and Caerphilly host Garndiffaith at the Constructquote Stadium.
In the final fixture of 2017, Blackwood host Ynysddu, Senghenydd face Cwmbran, and Caerphilly take on last season’s title rivals Hartridge.
Each of the five Division 3 East A sides manage to avoid one another on the opening day, as Oakdale face Tredegar Ironsides, and undefeated league winners Machen take on Chepstow.
The Shirefolk then travel to face Newport HSOB, while Blackwood Stars can look forward to two local clashes in a row, visiting Fleur-de-Lys on Saturday, September 23, before hosting Oakdale the following week.
Several sides from the north of the borough populate Division 3 East B after Deri and Markham’s promotion, with a tasty clash between New Tredegar and Rhymney kicking things off.
Markham host Aberbargoed on Saturday September 9, before Aber face Deri on October 14. Hafodyrynys make the short journey to Llanhilleth on November 18.
Trinant host Crumlin in Division 3 East C on September 9, with the reverse fixture on December 30, while in Division 3 East D, relegated Pontllanfraith travel to Bettws, Cwmcarn United take on Abersychan, and Rhayader host Cefn Fforest.
Cefn Fforest visit the Welfare Ground to take on Pontllanfraith on March 3, 2018.