Pontypridd title ends 15-year wait
The Barclays Premier League stole the show in recent weeks, as Manchester City claimed their first title in the English football league for 44 years.
However, over in Wales, another long wait was coming to an end, as Pontypridd RFC won the Welsh Rugby League Championship for the first time since 1997.
The 15-year wait ended in victory on May 18th as Pontypridd claimed the title by just two points in a narrow 15-13 victory over Llanelli.
It was something of a grudge match for Pontypridd who, just 12 months previously, lost the title against the same opposition in the 2011 play-off final.
No such failure awaited Ponty this season, however – and the result bookends the 15-year gap perfectly.
It was in 1997, that Dale McIntosh and Paul John were two of the members of the Pontypridd squad, which included several internationals.
They now serve as coaching staff on the team – testament to the focus on past experience that is helping the club to find a resurgence.
John says: “A common theme between the two eras is that we had been coming close to winning the league in previous years on both occasions.
“We also won the cup in the previous seasons, and the squads of 1997 and 2012 went on to show great consistency in their achievements.”
He added that it would be difficult to claim greater satisfaction from either victory, due to his different roles.
But with his playing career now over, John is relishing the new challenges he faces as a coach.
Ponty topped the table last year and again in 2012 – with only the play-off result preventing them from lifting the 2011 title trophy.
However, 2013 will bring a renewed challenge from their opposition, as they seek a hat-trick of top-place finishes against a league that will be determined to prevent it from happening.