Pontypool RFC is pleased to announce the re-appointment of flanker, Scott Matthews, as the club’s captain next season. It will be Matthews' second campaign in the role, after succeeding Rob Nash in the summer of 2019.
The 27-year-old joined the club from Cross Keys RFC in 2018 and quickly established himself as a key part of the squad at Pontypool Park. Across his two seasons at the club, Matthews has made 34 appearances and crossed for an impressive 17 tries.
The forward's first season as skipper was largely going to plan. In March, the club was sitting top of the WRU Specsavers National Championship, until the decision was taken by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) to cancel the remainder of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WRU's decision - both sensible and inevitable - was fully supported by Pontypool RFC. Consequentially, it resigned the club to spending at least another year outside the Indigo Premiership, but sometimes an appreciation of the bigger picture is required, even if, from a purely sporting context, a feeling of disappointment was hard to suppress.
"The club was supportive of the WRU’s decision to cancel the season," said Matthews. "In times as uncertain as these, you must readjust and focus on looking after family, friends and the wider community. Initially, there was a sense of disappointment that we wouldn't be able to fight until the end in our pursuit of promotion.
"When something you have worked so hard to try and attain is taken away, there is a period of mental adjustment. It is, however, one of the beauties of sport and rugby that we will get another chance to realise our ambitions.
"Reflecting on last season, we were under no false illusions that the season was done. Despite sitting top of the league, there were still ten games left to play and our away fixture against Bargoed was one I know the boys were particularly looking forward to. They were enjoying an excellent season and as a squad we relish the big games - especially Gwent derbies."
While there is still yet to be a definitive date for domestic rugby's return in Wales, Matthews is looking to the future with optimism. "I believe there are exciting times ahead," he said. "We aren't sure when the season will start, however when we are back together in September, we will work hard and there will undoubtedly be a real buzz in the squad.
"It was a massive honour to be named captain last season. To be given the responsibility to try and lead the boys to the Premiership was something I took extremely seriously and to be asked again is huge for me.
"As a squad, we can't wait to put the red, white and black jersey on again and run out at Pontypool Park. Once we return, our supporters will have some exciting fixtures to look forward to and I'm excited to see where our season will go."
Key for head coach, Leighton Jones, was keeping a sense of continuity within the team during these uncertain times. Combining this with the professionalism he displayed since joining the club two years’ ago, Jones knew Matthews was the only choice to retain the captain’s armband next season.
"Scott was the perfect candidate to replace Rob last summer and I'm pleased he will continue in the role,” said Jones. “He is a respected figure in Welsh club rugby and will have learned a lot from his first season as captain. There is still fair bit of uncertainty at the moment in terms of what the league campaign will look like, but having Scott at the helm gives the team stability for when we can finally enjoy a return to rugby.”