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The best Youth rugby team in Wales just sparked a huge party in their town

For the longest time, the chants of ‘The yoof is on fiya’ have likely been heard all too often around Builth Wells’ clubhouse or their home pitch, the Groe.

Last Saturday though, the home of Welsh rugby bore witness to that mantra becoming a reality, as Builth’s Youth team ran riot in Cardiff with a 44-17 win over Bridgend Athletic. With it, the Bulls, bleach-blonde hair and all, crowned themselves as the country’s best youth side.

“The youth is on fire?” said coach Chris Offa as he reminisced on the young Bulls’ WRU National Youth Cup final triumph at the Principality Stadium. “That’s right, isn’t it. It’s a legacy to live on forever.”

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More than 1,000 supporters from the market town had made the trip down the A470 to take on this moment of day. For context, a 2020 estimate put the town’s population at 2,627 people.

Those in Cardiff were treated to a seven-try victory as winger Ciaran Price helped himself to four stunning scores, with Alecs Williams, Iwan Coyle and Morgan Price crossing for the others. Those back in mid Wales presumably kept the clubhouse bar stocked ready for the party to follow.

It’s a remarkable achievement for the young players and Builth’s coaching ticket. For head coach Offa and his coaching staff from him – backs coach Hughie Lloyd, forwards coach Shaun Hughes and team manager Lyndon Jones-the crown of Wales’ best youth side is still sinking in.

“It’s just unbelievable,” said Offa. “You can’t really take it in. But it’s true.

“We’re trying to win the league now. We’ve got three games left and that would really mean we’re the best youth team in Wales.

“It was a coach’s dream. We prepared well and tried to keep things as normal as we could going into the game. We were ferocious and we deserved it”

“It’s a day we’ll never forget. One memory sticks out more than most. On the way down, we stopped by the reservoir in Merthyr for a cup of tea. We got out of the bus and the amount of cars beeping their horns.” going by was unbelievable.

“Later on, there was a bit of a party that night. It’s only just settled down now. There’s definitely a buzz around the club and the town.”

That party saw the Bulls and the 10 buses that had shipped fans down to Cardiff race back to mid Wales for a proper celebration at the clubhouse. A local band made sure it was a raucous one, but the overriding feeling of the night was simply of the enormity of the achievement sinking in.

“It was straight back to Builth after the presentation,” said Offa. “We got back around nine-ish and had a bit of a laugh. It was a late one.

“We wanted to celebrate in our home town. It was a good night, just in awe of what’s happened. Catching up, shaking hands and hugging – it was great for the whole club. The band couldn’t have picked a better night to play there.”

That provided the perfect end for a few days from Builth will ever forget. The dream of playing at the Principality Stadium is one not many will achieve.

Winning, and winning in style, is an even rarer feat. That’s exactly what Builth did – sampling a brief glimpse into a world of rugby only reserved for the professionals.

“The boys are still pinching themselves to be honest,” said Offa. It’s a dream come true.

“We work so hard and it’s lovely to see the boys get their reward at the end of it. To be fair to the Welsh Rugby Union, it was so well organized in giving us a professional experience.

“The whole experience of the bus going into the car park and being met there. It all started with that. We had the home dressing room as well. We won the toss for that.”

If the final against Bridgend was ultimately a one-sided scoreline, the same couldn’t be said for the semi-final – when Builth edged past Penarth with a last-gasp try after multiple phases.

“We spend hours on the basics and the basic skills of rugby shone through there,” added Offa. “Just one knock-on and the dream was over.

“Time was up, but we had the composure to keep the ball. I think it was over 20 phases before we went over in the corner. That was something else. The emotion of that semi-final was just unbelievable.”

The respect Offa and his side hold for both Penarth and Bridgend is obvious, crediting both for playing an attractive brand of rugby that the Bulls more than reciprocated. He’s grateful too for the sponsors who help the club out with travel costs.

“One thing that is a concern to us is that, when you’re a successful team, teams won’t come and play you so you have to go to them, particularly for friendlies. A bus now costs a lot of money.

“Financially it’s huge for us and the local sponsors are huge to us. We’re so grateful for their support.”

More than 1,000 fans came down from mid Wales to support Builth

For many, mid Wales might not be considered the production line of Welsh rugby talents compared to other parts of the country. Offa is hopeful this victory will show that’s not the case.

“We’ve won the Blues Cup North. We’re unbeaten in the league and cup.

“We feel ignored by the region, you know. It’s a bit of a shame but that’s not going to stop us pursuing regional rugby for these lads. You’ve only got to watch the game.

“Three or four of those boys, if they couldn’t put a Welsh jersey on, I don’t know who could. But the trouble is they’re not being the pathway to get there.

“We’re just getting ignored. The game on Saturday speaks for itself.

“Getting 10 buses down to Cardiff shows we’re doing something right. There’s great value in rugby in mid Wales. Grassroots rugby works in our area. Our junior section shows that. It’s very much a mid Wales effort.”

This summer, Offa and Lyndon Jones will step down, with Hughie Lloyd and Shaun Hughes taking over the task of trying to do it all again. For the club, it’s all part of the bigger picture.

“It’s a long-term plan though,” says Offa. “You wind the clock back a few years and you have to play at a higher level and take the knocks on the way, but that develops players.

“This is for the rugby club and the seniors. They’re on the brink of winning their league, but they contain players who have come through in a long process. It’s not just these group of players, but over the last five years. It’s a long-term thing to make this happen.”

For now though, the club and the town are simply getting their head around what they’ve achieved.

“It’s ok now,” says Offa, “but in years to come, we’ll all look back and think that was the best rugby day of our life.”


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