Following the bonus point win at Ystalyfera it was time for reflection and an appraisal of the season for Brecon RFC.

Having gained promotion to Championship West at the end of 2022/23, the new season brought further success. 

Brecon ended as runners-ip to Narberth and secured a second successive promotion, which will now seen them play in the new Community Premiership. 

The achievement probably exceeded the expectations of club stalwarts, who remember the time, some 30 years ago, when Brecon entered the new National Leagues in the basement Division 8. That negativity was certainly not in the minds of the management team led by Head Coach, Dale McIntosh, who outlined the ambitious aims set by the team at the start of the season.

“Brecon’s objectives for season 2023 - 2024 were always crystal clear,” he said.  

“We, as a management group, honestly believed it was possible to win: promotion, the league and the cup.

“We honestly felt that all three were realistic possibilities, however, we would always need a run of luck to achieve this. Unfortunately, this was not the case as injuries inevitably resulted in us just achieving the main and most important objective, which was promotion.”

With destination premiership as the priority, Dale reflected on how he felt the season matched up to those high expectations. 

“We entered the unknown at the start of the season with matches against Newcastle Emlyn (H), Llangennech (A) and Ystalyfera (H) and we got off to a flying start with a run of very good performances,” he said.

“Things were going well and we were building confidence and managing egos appropriately. With key signings such as the likes of Kristian Dacey, Sam Jones, Osian Davies and others we continued to play steadily and well enough to keep wrapping up five-point victories.

“Unfortunately, injuries then started coming thick and fast. I understand injuries are part of the game and in the past, I’ve always shrugged them off believing one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity but we were never able to play more than 80 per cent of what I believe would be our starting XV and at times found ourselves training with 13/14 players while almost an equal number were unavailable through injury or enforced absence.

“We lost past captain Ewan Williams after just four matches, Kristian only managed six games in the season and joint captains, Jake Crockett and Alwyn Lee were sidelined for seven and nine matches respectively.”

With the main objective, promotion, achieved, how did Dale feel about the season as a whole? When considering that Brecon had fallen narrowly short of the league title and were knocked out of the cup.

Explaining, he said: “I have been very fortunate to have coached seven teams to win the premiership. I say this not as a boast but more importantly to highlight what I believe are the three constants needed to do this. 

“First, total trust and understanding within the environment. Second, strength in depth and third, a bit of luck.

“The second we just didn’t have in certain positions and the third is simply uncontrollable. 

“For me the three obvious turning points of the season were: 1. Losing to Bedwas in the cup. To this day I cannot get my head around how we simply didn’t follow procedures and protocol in that game. 2. Losing our unbeaten home record to Llangennech, who did play well, but were assisted by what, I believe, were some inflated egos on our behalf. But 3. Was hard to take. I believe we were absolutely robbed v Narbeth away. We did enough to win a very tight game throughout the 80 mins against a very good side. However, I believe we were on the wrong end of a crucial decision which inevitably cost us the game and the league.”

Finally, ‘The Chief’ reflected on his motivation in stepping into a community environment when he accepted the new challenge with Brecon RFC.

“It was always Phil Buck’s, Paul Amphlett’s, Andy Lewis’ and my intention to take Brecon to the Premiership so players in Brecon and Powys could represent the area at the highest level instead of going to Merthyr, Pontypridd and others,” he said. 

“We wanted people not just to recognize and relate to us because of the Beacons, but also because Brecon has a bl**** good rugby team. This has been achieved with a lot of hard work. 

“I’d personally like to thank my plaers and coaches Gav (Dacey), Shepy (Owen Sheppeard), Gari (Davies) and Darran (Harris) and backroom staff Huw (Davies), Rory (Duffield), Dane (Griffiths) and Tucker (Gordon Davies). These people have worked tirelessly and I’m forever in their debt.  A huge thank you to Brecon committee, especially Paul and Andy, initially, and Angharad (Woodland), who I am in constant dialogue with. Also, thanks to Ron (Rowsell) for the match reports and Rhob (Lewis) and Dai (Hazeldene) for filming the games and publishing live score updates. I also wish Geoff (Evans) all the very best with his retirement off the committee. He will be a big loss but I just hope he’ll come and see us on a regular basis. Last, but not least, a massive appreciation to Phil Buck and Sunnybarn Investments without whom none of this would be possible.

“Therefore, a lot of positives, but we just can’t get away from underlying issues. One major one is whether we want to be in elite rugby or do we just want to represent Brecon RFC, facilitating local lads in lower divisions. I honestly believe we owe it to the future players to provide the best platform and opportunities for development. 

“Rugby is now a profession. If you have the resources and young boy or girl is good enough, then it becomes our duty, if possible, to allow them the opportunity to represent the area they were born and bred in, at the highest possible level.

“Unless you play against the best how can you be measured against the best. In the past how many Brecon, Gwernyfed, Builth lads just couldn’t commit to higher leagues as they were looking after dad’s farm or just couldn’t get from A to D.  

“Where we are now allows Brecon as a club to make history. I honestly believe it allows a lot of Brecon and Powys players scope and perhaps exposure to be considered at a highest level. That said and done I would genuinely like to thank all our supporters, sponsors and club staff not just for their support, but for their friendship, companionship and Breconship be it with the first, Athletic or age grades. 

“Finally, and on another positive note, I want to wish our Athletic team a final success at the end of a very successful season when they face Beddau in the Ivor Williams Cup Final at Abercwmboi on Saturday, May 11.”