Bedwas RFC has vowed to bounce back after the club’s relegation from the Principality Premiership.
The club were relegated bafter Bridgend Ravens beat Pontypridd 34-31 on Saturday, May 11.
Despite winning their final game against Swansea, Bedwas needed Bridgend to lose their final two games to avoid automatic relegation.
Bridgend lost to Aberavon but went on to win their final game to leapfrog Bedwas and Llanelli in the table.
Bedwas will join Cross Keys and Bargoed in the Welsh Championship next season, while Llanelli will take on Welsh Championship winners Pontypool in the promotion/relegation play-off.
The official Bedwas Twitter account posted: “We would like to thank all our hardworking players, staff and volunteers as well as our fans and sponsors for their support this year and throughout our time in the league.
“We look forward to renewing some great rivalries in the second division next term and continuing to be one of Wales’ leading clubs, punching well above our weight.
“Come what may, we always know that our members and community will be behind us all the way.
“Best wishes to next year’s Premiership clubs – and watch out our Championship rivals.”
Hard lines to @bedwasrfc who only deserve the utmost respect and congratulations for maintaining their presence in the Welsh Premiership over the years! Regroup, reassess, come back stronger! Up against it this season, you’ve been a credit to the village ?? #wasss
— Gareth Axenderrie ??????? (@gaxenderrie) May 11, 2019
Bedwas head coach, Stefan Sankala, used Facebook to say: “Very proud to have taken full coaching reigns in the Welsh Prem. Even more pride seeing a group of lads bind together and produce some great rugby this season and reach 62 points- largely against the odds.
“Huge thanks and respect to the volunteers who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to allow us this opportunity and a special mention to our pathway clubs that have supported my journey this year. In particular Senghenydd RFC, Bobby [Andrews] and every player that has stepped up to wear our badge when we needed it most.
“Huge respect and I’ll be forever grateful.”
Sankala also thanked his coaching and background staff for their efforts this season and said: “I couldn’t have done without your constant support and unique ability to build a climate that rugby players expressed themselves and enjoyed. You all had an impact that almost kept us up. We almost did it. Big respect to you all.”
He described his players as: “Some of the best players I’ve seen and many that would move mountains for us.
“Crazy to think this game can move you to tears but I think it’s because we cared.
“Gutted is an understatement, but we will have our time.”
@bedwasrfc So proud of a village club that has taken it to the supposed big clubs of Welsh rugby for so long. Thank you to everyone at the club who has made this possible. It’s been a hell of ride. Season ticket for next season please
— garethwelch (@garethwelch1) May 11, 2019
Bedwas Secretary, David Cousins, said: “We’re just trying to take it all in. I’m really proud of the way our boys performed.
“Bridgend had seven or eight Ospreys players playing for them and Llanelli have had Scarlets players playing for them for five weeks.
“But we’ll regroup and go again. We’re a community club, so we’ll make sure we exist within our budget and go from there.”
Mr Cousins added: “We don’t deserve to go down, but that’s rugby.
“I’m really proud of the players and the coaches. Stefan Sankala and Pat McGee [forwards coach] have worked really hard.
“We’ll be fine as a club. There’s been rugby in Bedwas for 130 years and it’ll go on long after me.
“We’ve got a great young side who have played well and will only get better.
“We’ll lick our wounds, regroup and try and go back up again.”
Caerphilly RFC chairman Gareth Ashman took to Twitter to praise local rivals Bedwas for their efforts.
Disappointed for our close neighbours @bedwasrfc on being relegated from the @welshpremrugby. The squad played their hearts out for the badge and put up a great fight, only to be beaten by the regions loading teams. You can hold your heads high ?
— Gareth Ashman (@iamgarethashman) May 12, 2019