PONTYPOOL, South Wales, 16th November 2016 – Pontypool RFC has pledged its commitment to enhancing the development of youth rugby and academic performance in Torfaen by financially contributing towards the appointment of Leighton Jones as the full-time Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) development officer for West Monmouth School.
Former West Monmouth School pupil, Jones - who on Sunday signed a two-season contract extension to remain as Pooler’s head coach until 2019 - will be responsible for spearheading rugby participation at the school in alignment with its academic curriculum.
“Leighton’s appointment as the WRU development officer for West Monmouth School is a fantastic academic and sporting development for the town of Pontypool,” said Pontypool RFC chief executive officer, Ben Jeffreys.
“Leighton has been instrumental in Pontypool RFC establishing a new strategic direction, whereby substantial focus is to be given to utilising the club’s positive stature and influence as a driver for developing a sustainable rugby environment within Torfaen.
“The marriage of the values held by Pontypool RFC, Leighton as an individual and West Monmouth School align perfectly and we are highly enthused by the opportunities this relationship can establish for the pupils of the school and their respective families.”
Jones will be a familiar face to many within West Monmouth School, where his thunderous performances for Pontypool RFC in the 1990s and 2000s solidified his reputation as one of the most committed players to have represented the town.
His enduring sacrifice for Pooler was rewarded in 2007 by being honoured as the club’s captain - where under his stewardship - Pooler won the Ben Francis Cup and earned promotion back to the Welsh Premiership Division after being crowned Division One East Champions.
Having transitioned to management in 2013 and serving as Pooler’s forwards coach, Jones succeeded in emulating the path of his late father - Steve “Junna” Jones – by being appointed as the club’s head coach in May.
Jones has made an impressive start to life at the helm of Pooler, with the club currently sitting atop of the WRU National Championship division table, having achieved a 100%-win record from their first ten matches.
“I am delighted to be joining West Monmouth School at a hugely exciting time for rugby in Torfaen,” said Jones.
“Rugby has been at the forefront of my family’s life for generations and all I have ever wanted was the opportunity to continue that legacy and positively represent the town of Pontypool in any way possible.
“I have been very fortunate to have done as a player, a captain and a coach for the previous twenty years, but the opportunity to represent the school and their incredibly talented pupils is a tremendous honour.
“I will strive to create as many opportunities as possible for pupils to enjoy playing rugby, whilst displaying the many benefits that playing as part of a team can bring to an individual’s personal development.
“The ultimate aim with any role of this nature is to impart vital life lessons to pupils to ensure that when they leave school, they are equipped with the tools necessary to enjoy a safe, happy and successful future.
“It is a wonderful challenge and I cannot wait to get started in this highly rewarding role.”
This enthusiasm and life-long commitment to rugby in Pontypool made Jones the stand out candidate to West Monmouth School’s headteacher, Gareth Whitcombe.
On welcoming Jones to the school, he said: “This an important appointment for the school and for rugby in Torfaen. Leighton’s track record as a player was outstanding and the way in which he has contributed to the resurgence of Pontypool RFC in recent years is testament to his leadership qualities and commitment to excellence.
“As an ex-pupil of the school, I know that Leighton is very keen to maximise the potential for the development of rugby within West Monmouth School and our partner Primary Schools.
“I have every confidence that he will lead from the front to ensure that pupils develop the skills and love of the game that will continue the proud tradition of rugby at West Monmouth School, Pontypool RFC and within the local community for many years to come.”