The story of the year in North Wales sport – hands down

Holyhead’s rugby heroes celebrate their famous win at Cardiff Saracens in the National Shield

Surely the greatest sporting achievement of 2020 in North Wales happened just 11 days into the year.

On January 11, Holyhead Rugby Club recorded the finest result in their history when they won 23-13 at Cardiff Saracens in the quarter-finals of the Specsavers National Shield.

The WRU League 3 East Central C Sarries, who were second in their table with a 100% record of 10 straight wins, started favourites to see off their visitors from Division 3 North.

Yet Holyhead would not be denied, tries from Ben Jordan, Mei Parry and Aron Parry, a Rhodri Parry conversion and penalty, plus three points from the boot of Owain Thomas carried the Holy Islanders to a magnificent victory.

South Gower awaited in the semi-finals, but sadly the tie never took place due to the coronavirus pandemic which wiped out so much sport across Wales for the majority of 2020.

Covid-19 denied Holyhead a potential double, as they were also second in Division Three North, 17 points behind Ruthin seconds but with three games in hand, when the season ended early.

What a transformation it has been for the islanders.

Back in September 2013, Caergybi made national headlines for all the wrong reasons when they suffered what is believed to be a Welsh record 181-0 defeat at Llanidloes in a Division Three North fixture.

Meet the winning team – Caergybi RFC

Fast-forward to 2019-20 and after much hard work Holyhead ended the curtailed season second in their division and one step from a national final.

Senior northern interest in all the other Welsh knockouts – Cup, Plate and Bowl – had ended a long time ago, so Holyhead proudly carried the region’s flag alone into 2020.

To reach the Shield semis, Caergybi saw off Brackla (15-5), Llanrumney (38-5), Cardiff Saracens (23-13) and, back in October 2019, eliminated fellow Division Three North side Ruthin 2nds 31-14 at Bryn-y-Mor.

Coach Mei Parry, also an RGC player, told Grassroots North Wales in January; “Just looking back 3/4 years ago the club was struggling to get 9/10 players for a game. We have proven to ourselves and to the rest of North Wales clubs we can start from nothing and build to be something good.

“As a coach I’ve been pushing the players really hard for the last couple of months and to have a win like that down in Cardiff shows why I pushed them to their limits.”

Take a bow Holyhead Rugby Club.

It may seem like a long time ago now, but no follower of North Wales rugby – and the town of Holyhead especially – will ever forget what you achieved in 2019-20.

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