Motor of the Month - The New Range Rover Sport

anna southgate

The new Range Rover Sport is a supreme SUV that has continued to make a real splash amongst car buyers since its spectacular unveiling.

To demonstrate the vehicle’s incredible capability and formidable traction, the manufacturer staged a dramatic world-first climb up a 193-metre flooded dam spillway in Iceland with a James Bond stunt driver at the wheel. The epic ascent saw the Range Rover Sport resist a perilous drop and the surging torrent of water flowing down the ramp of the Karahnjukar Dam – the biggest of its kind in the world – at a rate of 750 tonnes per minute.

Of course, it’s not a challenge that motorists will likely ever need to take on, when enquiring about the latest addition to the Range Rover collection at Sinclair Land Rover showrooms in Aberystwyth, Brecon, Ludlow and the Group’s brand-new Swansea retailer on Riverside Business Park.

However, they can be assured that it is more than a match to rise effortlessly to any driving situation that they might face and that includes away from paved roads. Features such as the latest Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (iAWD) and Adaptive Off-Road Cruise Control making its debut on the Range Rover Sport will ensure owners can navigate the trickiest terrain. Dynamic Air Suspension with switchable volume air springs – another Range Rover first – and twin-valve active dampers provide new levels of agility, control and composure too.

The third generation of Land Rover’s luxury performance SUV is indeed the most desirable, technologically-advanced and capable yet, mixing an imposing road presence with instinctive driving responses using the most sophisticated combination of chassis technologies ever fitted to a Land Rover.

Powering the Range Rover Sport range is a line-up of powerful and efficient powertrains that include the popular six-cylinder 48V mild-hybrid Ingenium diesel option.

Smooth and quiet when slowing down and strong and responsive when pulling away (0 to 60mph in just 6.3 seconds), the Range Rover Sport mild hybrid diesel delivers improved fuel economy of 37.7mpg (WLTP), reduced emissions and a refined driving experience and without the need for charging.

Of course, occupant comfort and connected convenience are the hallmarks of this superior SUV that boasts a sumptuous and sophisticated interior featuring a 13.1-inch curved touchscreen for award-winning Pivi Pro infotainment complemented by intuitive 13.7-inch Interactive Driver Display. Sculpted seating, Cabin Air Purification Pro and Meridian Signature Sound with the latest Active Noise Cancellation as standard in addition to Wireless Apple CarPlay®, Wireless Android Auto™ and 15W Wireless Device Charger guarantee every journey is one to be savoured.

And if you thought good things only come to those who wait then think again. Range Rover Sport diesel models are available to order now from Sinclair Land Rover retailers with delivery times of three to six months.

For further information, please visit

The Money Column - The Benefits of Financial Planning for the Future

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By Stuart d’Ivry, Managing Director of Pure Wealth Management, offering help and support to our subscribers in relation to anything financial.


The Benefits of Financial Planning: Building a Secure Future


Financial planning is often underestimated or overlooked by many individuals and families. However, it plays a pivotal role in achieving long-term financial stability and security. Simply put, financial planning involves setting goals, creating a roadmap to achieve those goals, and making informed decisions about your money. In this article, we will explore the benefits of financial planning and why it is an essential component of your financial well-being.


Goal Achievement


One of the primary benefits of financial planning is that it helps you define and work towards your financial goals. Whether it’s buying a home, funding your children’s education, retiring comfortably, or starting a business, having a clear financial plan in place provides you with a roadmap to reach these objectives. Without a plan, these goals may remain dreams that never come to fruition.


Emergency Preparedness


Life is unpredictable, and unexpected expenses can arise at any time. Financial planning prepares you for these emergencies by building an emergency fund. Having a readily available reserve can prevent you from going into debt when facing unexpected medical bills, car repairs, or other crises.


Debt Management


Debt can be a significant financial burden, and improper handling of debt can lead to financial distress. Financial planning strategies often include developing a plan to manage and reduce debt effectively. By creating a repayment strategy and prioritizing high-interest debts, you can work towards becoming debt-free and improving your overall financial health.


Investment Growth


Investing is a critical component of financial planning, and it offers the potential for your wealth to grow over time. A well-crafted financial plan takes into account your risk tolerance, financial goals, and time horizon, allowing you to make informed investment decisions that align with your objectives. This can lead to the accumulation of wealth through assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, and more.


Retirement Planning


Planning for retirement is a significant part of financial planning. Through structures such as pensions and ISA’s you can ensure that you have sufficient funds to maintain your desired lifestyle after you retire. The earlier you start planning for retirement, the more time your investments have to grow and provide for your future.


Tax Efficiency


Financial planning also helps optimize your tax strategy. By taking advantage of tax-efficient investment vehicles and deductions, you can minimize your tax liability, leaving you with more money to save, invest, or spend as you see fit.


Peace of Mind


Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of financial planning is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing that you have a well-thought-out financial plan in place can reduce stress and anxiety about your financial future. It provides a sense of control and confidence in your ability to achieve your goals and overcome financial challenges.


To conclude…


Financial planning is not just for the wealthy or financially savvy; it is a tool that can benefit individuals and families at all income levels. The benefits of financial planning are numerous and far-reaching, from helping you achieve your goals and manage debt to providing a secure and comfortable retirement. By taking the time to create a financial plan tailored to your unique circumstances, you can build a solid foundation for a secure and prosperous future. Remember that it’s never too early or too late to start planning for your financial well-being.


Contact us:


Pure Wealth are an independent financial advice practice offering holistic whole of market advice to individuals and businesses across South Wales.  We are not tied to any company or provider and will work in partnership with our clients to offer bespoke financial planning typically on an ongoing basis.  Pure Wealth is part of the wider Pure Group which consists of specialists in other areas such as residential property, property investing, commercial property and development.  This ensures that clients of the Pure Group have the peace of mind that they are receiving independent advice across all areas of their finances.  Should any of the readers require any advice or have any question in relation to mortgages or any other areas of their financial planning please get in touch mention Sportin Magazine and we will ensure the first consultation is free of charge.


Call: 02922 671957



Investments can go down as well as up. You may not get back the original capital invested.


Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it.


Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.

Swansea To Host Snooker Shoot Out

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Snooker’s star players will be in Swansea in December for the BetVictor Shoot Out, a unique tournament which features fast matches and an electric atmosphere.


The world ranking event takes place from December 6th to 9th at Swansea Arena. Tickets are on sale now and start at just £20.


It all starts with 128 players in the field, whittled down to one on the Saturday night who will be crowned champion and take home the trophy. Last year, Chris Wakelin came out on top, coming through a strong field which included green baize giants such as Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Williams, new World Champion Luca Brecel, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson and Jimmy White.


The unique format makes it snooker’s most dramatic tournament as the action comes fast and furious from the first break-off.


All matches last a maximum of ten minutes, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and just ten seconds for the last five. Players are put under extreme pressure as they battle the clock and their opponent. Plus there’s a random draw for every round which adds to the drama. Fans are encouraged to interact with the players and enjoy the occasion!


To book seats and check out the special offers, head to and scroll to the BetVictor Shoot Out.


The full line up of players as well as the first round draw and schedule will be announced in November.


The event is televised by Eurosport, discovery+ and many other broadcasters worldwide.

Cardiff Rugby Trio Team Up To Tackle Violence Against Women

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Cardiff Rugby players Ellis Jenkins, Theo Cabango and Teddy Williams got together at the Arms Park recently to discuss healthy relationships, what men can do to help women feel safe, and the importance of having open conversations with male friends and colleagues.

The athletes were speaking as ambassadors for the Sound Campaign, a project which looks to raise awareness of early red flags in relationships by sounding out concerns with friends, getting sound advice from trusted sources, and being ‘sound as’, by modelling positive behaviours in day-to-day life.

The overall aim is to end all violence against women and girls across Wales.

Speaking about his involvement, Cabango said, “it can be hard sometimes, especially when you’re young. There’s lots of kids worried about their girlfriends or boyfriends, where they’re going and what they’re doing. I think a healthy relationship must have trust, and I think you need quite a lot of self-reflection too.”

Williams picked up on self-reflection, adding, “sometimes when emotions are high, in the heat of the moment, you might behave in a certain way and when you reflect you think, oh I could have dealt with that better.”

Jenkins, who married West End star Sophie Evans last year and recently became a father, wanted to address outdated ideas around masculinity.

“There are a lot of perceptions around ‘what it is to be a man.’ Challenging those stereotypes is important. It’s all about looking at how you’ve handled certain situations and accepting that perhaps you could’ve handled it better. It’s the realisation that none of us are going to be perfect all the time.”

Cabango highlighted the importance of men talking about relationships and asking one another for help.

“The rugby team, we’re like a family, you’re not going to agree on everything, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to take it in, take it onboard, and listen.”

Jenkins agreed. “Rugby has been a huge teacher for me really. I hear the young boys having conversations now that certainly would not have happened back when I was first coming through. People asking ‘how’s your head’ if someone has gone through a break-up or has an illness in the family or anything like that. It’s so encouraging to see the boys checking in on each other and making it so much more apparent that stuff might be going on, and that it’s ok.

The full conversation between the players, and more relationship advice and support can be found on the Sound Cymru YouTube page and social channels.

Business After Sport - With Wales former international rugby union player Sam Warburton

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SW7 . . . The Company That has Sam Warburton’s Name and Number


For a player who always seemed so clear in his decision-making, Sam Warburton admits he was clueless after his rugby career ended.


He may have captained Wales to Six Nations titles, guided his country into two World Cups, twice led the Lions on tour, and always appeared to know which ruck to hit and which to guard.


But when it came to life after rugby at the age of 29, five years ago, that clear mindedness got lost in a fog.


“When I finished playing, I had no idea what I wanted to do,” he says. “I kind of took on four part-time jobs, but they quickly became more than part-time, and I was busy, really busy.


“I was coaching, doing TV work, a lot of public speaking, and running this business with the fitness app. But I also had a family with kids, and I realised I was trying to do too much.


“I was actually in a loo and saw a quote on the wall from Steve Jobs that urged people to get involved in things they feel passionate about. I thought, that’s true. It worked for me when I played rugby and I should do what I enjoy now, too.


“I realised, that what I was passionate about was fitness, and working with people to help get them fitter, healthier, and active. One of the things that convinced me was knowing I knew so much about this area because I’d been living it since I was 15.


“I knew how I wanted to help people and what myths I wanted to bust.”


The result was the SW7 Academy – a fitness, conditioning and nutritional programme delivered online, and in-person aimed at varying performance levels.


As well as general fitness programmes, Cardiff-based SW7 also offer specific rugby development programmes for both clubs and individual players.


Like many a business that began in 2020, the unseen impact of Covid lockdowns provided a huge challenge for Warburton and his colleagues, but also offered them lessons in how to adapt to changing circumstances.


“At one point, myself and my business partner were up all night into the early hours uploading the email addresses of 5,000 people because we didn’t have the proper technology.”


But the former Cardiff back row forward was convinced if he could get the technology right, then the business would grow.


“I knew we would be attractive to people because we want to help people succeed and feel good about themselves.


“I’d seen and heard about so many personal fitness instructors who thought their role was to break people, to crush their clients in order to improve them, but that always seemed a wrong approach to me.


“Who wants to be miserable just because they want to get fit? Training should make you feel good, not miserable. Short-term fixes that make you unhappy are not sustainable.”


Warburton and business partner Josh Davies now boast a five-strong team of trainers and currently have around 1,200 individual clients who are using their app.


Having moved into the area of clubs and schools, their client list is up to around 1,500 in total.


They also have ambitious plans to develop into the USA, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


“I like to think we are still only at the bottom of an upward curve,” says the man who was so persuasive on the rugby field, he famously once convinced a referee to change a penalty decision that turned a likely series loss for the Lions into a draw.


So, all that captaincy, all those years of experience of dressing room relationships and codes – how valuable has that background been in the cut-and-thrust of business?


“I remember asking this question to Ryan Jones after he went into the real world from rugby,” says Warburton.


“He told me the massive difference he noticed was that in the workplace, people are really scared about making mistakes. Whereas, on the rugby field, you accept you will make mistakes, but you do your best to fix them when they happen.


“We are now on our third app with this business. We quickly realised after 12 months we had outgrown the first one, the second one we thought would be good for the long term, until we knew it wouldn’t be.


“So, some business people can be cautious, but I think it’s about pushing the boat out and seeing how far you can go.


“I stick to my playing principles – be as accurate and efficient as possible, and always remain professional. But don’t be afraid of mistakes and embrace the opportunity to fix them as you go along.”


It’s a strategy he hopes will be as effective as it once was for him at Cardiff Arms Park and the Principality Stadium.

How CrossFit Transformed My Life: A Journey to Health and Happiness

anna southgate

CrossFit, a high-intensity fitness routine that combines elements of weightlifting, aerobic exercises, and functional movements, has not only become a global fitness phenomenon over the years but has also profoundly changed the lives of countless individuals, including mine.

Discovering CrossFit

My journey with CrossFit began in November 2022, following the unexpected breakdown of my marriage. I had always been an active person with involvement in judo, rugby and sea rowing but had now found myself in unfamiliar territory, mentally.  In a quest to find myself again and regain that active and healthier lifestyle, the search began. Like many people, I had struggled with maintaining consistent exercise habits and achieving my fitness goals over the years. The traditional gym workouts felt monotonous, and I often found myself lacking motivation.

A friend suggested CrossFit. I was initially hesitant, having heard stories of its intense workouts and challenging routines. However, curiosity got the better of me and little did I know, this decision would be the catalyst for a remarkable transformation.

Community and Support

One of the standout features of CrossFit is the sense of community it fosters. Unlike the anonymity of many commercial gyms, CrossFit boxes (the term used for CrossFit gyms) create an environment where members encourage, support, and celebrate each other’s progress. This sense of belonging made me feel like I was part of something greater than myself.

The camaraderie I found within the CrossFit community provided the motivation I needed to keep coming back. It wasn’t just about getting fit; it was about being part of a tight-knit group that shared the same goals and aspirations.

Constant Variation

One of the things that had deterred me from traditional workouts was their repetitive nature. CrossFit thrives on constant variation. Workouts are rarely the same, keeping both my body and mind engaged. This dynamic approach to fitness eliminated the boredom I had previously associated with working out.

Functional Fitness

CrossFit places a strong emphasis on functional fitness, which means training movements and muscles that have real-life applications. Whether it’s lifting weights, running, or performing bodyweight exercises, CrossFit helps you become better at activities you encounter in daily life.

Goal Setting and Achievement

CrossFit provides a structured framework for setting and achieving fitness goals. This was a game-changer for me. As I hit milestones and accomplished movements I had never thought possible, I gained a tremendous sense of accomplishment and confidence. The “CrossFit Open,” an annual worldwide competition, is now becoming a yearly benchmark of my progress and a source of personal pride.

Improved Health

Beyond the physical benefits, CrossFit has had a profound impact on my overall health. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with mobility and joint issues over the years, but I’ve now noticed a significant change in my mobility, improved cardiovascular endurance, increased muscle tone, and a significant drop in body fat. My energy levels soared, and I found myself sleeping better. CrossFit’s focus on nutrition also encouraged me to make healthier dietary choices.

Mental Resilience

CrossFit is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. The workouts push you to your limits, demanding focus, determination, and mental resilience. Overcoming these mental barriers in the gym translated into increased confidence and perseverance in other aspects of my life.

To conclude

Being a part of CrossFit has undeniably changed my life for the better. It has given me a sense of purpose, a supportive community, and the physical and mental strength to face life’s challenges head-on. The lessons I’ve learned in the gym have spilled over into other areas of my life, making me a more resilient, disciplined, and confident individual.

Turning the Page . . . Wales Boss Rob has Defied his Critics In the Post-Bale Era

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Transition has been something of a buzzword in 2023.


A year on from a first World Cup appearance since 1958, a new-look Wales side have the chance to make more history by qualifying for what would be a third successive European Championships.


Until just a few weeks ago, that appeared a highly unlikely prospect following damaging defeats to Armenia and Turkey in June – coincidentally, the two sides Rob Page is aiming to beat in mid-November to book their place in next summer’s Euro showpiece in Germany.


Following the retirements of Gareth Bale, Joe Allen, Chris Gunter and Jonny Williams, the Dragons needed some fresh talent.


Nathan Broadhead, Jordan James, Ollie Cooper, Charlie Savage, Joe Low, Regan Poole and Liam Cullen have all earned their senior Wales debuts since Page’s side crashed out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the group stage.


It has been a turbulent year, to say the least.


But Page has always understood the full scale of the transition Wales are in, particularly after losing, in his own words, “one of the world’s best players” in ex-Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles ace Bale.


It’s the very reason the head coach believes he was handed a four-year deal by the Football Association of Wales (FAW) after guiding his country to what was only their second ever appearance at a World Cup.


There was plenty of debate around Page’s position as head coach following what was a wretched summer, while it’s been suggested that the FAW’s CEO Noel Mooney had been sounding out potential successors as manager.


But the squad and coaches united to help deliver what was a famous result and performance against Croatia on October 15 – when Harry Wilson’s brace earned the hosts a 2-1 triumph at Cardiff City Stadium.


It was not only a result that lifted Wales up to second in Group D, but one that reinvigorated the Red Wall ahead of what is now a pivotal double header this month, when most had previously been fearing the worst.


As Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward says: “We can look forward to another tough couple of games, but it’s back in our hands and all to play for.”


It’s easy to forget that Wales were rarely at their rip-roaring best in the latter stages of Bale’s glittering career.


The talisman produced memorable moments – most notably against Austria and Ukraine in the World Cup play-offs – to send Wales to Qatar.


But certainly in recent years, the Red Dragons had rarely produced dominant team displays and were understandably heavily reliant on the man who became the world’s most expensive player.


To that end, Wales can be even more proud of their astonishing victory over Croatia – a side ranked sixth in the world by FIFA and a team that reached the World Cup final in 2018 and the semi-finals last time out.


The whole team produced when it mattered most.


Wilson was clinical. David Brooks was magical. Jordan James and Ethan Ampadu were rock solid in the centre of the park. The list goes on.


From one to 11, Wales were magnificent and deservedly clinched all three points over Zlatko Dalic’s outfit.


This is the new Wales. Because, quite simply, it has to be.


It’s the only way they’ll achieve success without a star as destructive as Bale in their ranks.


As Bournemouth star Brooks says: “It’s huge. The last couple of times we’ve been to tournaments, I didn’t play as big a part as I would have liked – which I had to accept because Gareth Bale was in front of me and he’s a living legend.


“So I’d love to go again now and be part of this new team. It’s massive for me, that’s what I want to achieve in my career, and I’ll be ready to go.”


Supporters practically consigned themselves to accepting defeat in the past when Bale and Aaron Ramsey were unavailable. That is no longer the case.


Unfortunately, the cracks were glaringly exposed on the grandest stage this time last year as Wales badly faltered in the group stages of the World Cup.


Since then, Page has had to navigate the choppy waters of the post-Bale era.


“I think we would be naive to think that we’re going to qualify for every single tournament going forward and win loads of games,” said Connor Roberts in September.


While the Burnley defender’s comments irked some members of the Welsh fan base, there was an underlying truth behind his words.


The achievements of recent years have been beyond rational expectation. They have raised hopes, but Wales remains a small nation in global terms with a modest domestic league.


Add to that, the changing of the guard that tends to occur after World Cup campaigns and it’s hardly a surprise there have been lows as well as highs.


There will continue to be bumps along the way, but the previous two international breaks show Page has the full support of his coaching staff and players.


Crucially, that gives Wales the chance to achieve something special in this decisive month.

Sportin Wales Founders Column By Alex Cuthbert

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By Sportin Wales’ Co Founder and Welsh international rugby union player; Alex Cuthbert

Away From Rugby, it’s Racing That Really Gets my Blood Pumping

I’ve had a number of sporting ambitions over the years – some I’ve managed to fulfill, while others are destined to remain fantasy.


In the second category was my dream of being a jockey.


But at 6ft 6in and 110kg, it was always a long shot.


I don’t know whether or not you watch much horse racing, but the guys on board are not really shaped like me. There was always more chance of the horse getting around the racecourse on me, rather than the other way around.


Still, not being the next AP McCoy or Frankie Dettori has never dampened my enthusiasm for the sport and as November arrives and we go deep into the jumps season, my passion for racing is as strong as ever.


I rode as a show jumper for years as a kid, and my mum – who was also a very good horse rider – was a big influence in that.


I didn’t really get serious about rugby until I was around 17-years-old and before that riding dominated, including a love of racing.


As someone who lived near Cheltenham, I used to go to the races from a young age and I’ve even galloped around the place myself.


I did some pony racing as a kid, but as I grew taller and heavier my ambition to be a jockey sadly had to be shelved.


Not my love of horses and racing, though. I am lucky to have had ownership in a couple of horses, trained by the brilliant Welsh trainer Christian Williams, and then my interest continued when I played for Exeter.


Together with Jonny Hill, I own a mare which has had a foal by Schiaparelli, and another foal to Golden Horn. Former jockey Tom Scudamore is also involved with those, so it’s all pretty exciting.


Jonny, who I played with at Exeter, shares my love of racing and together we thought we would move into breeding.


Within a couple of years, we’ll have two yearlings, which will be very exciting as they are long term projects since we’re hoping they’ll be jumpers.


The horse Jonny and I had at Exeter was called Cottonvale. It used to finish second quite a lot, which was a bit like the team at the Chiefs at the time.


I really enjoy the whole day of going to a race meeting. Everyone is there to have a good time and the atmosphere at a place like Cheltenham is amazing.


But I also enjoy the smaller meetings, where you can go and watch the horses in the parade ring and appreciate what amazing animals they are.

If you have a little bet, then that gets the blood pumping a little more, but I also enjoy just going to meetings to catch up with friends. It’s a great place to socialise.


The more you get into the breeding side of things, the more you learn how fascinating the racing industry is.


You might not think it, but there’s quite a bit of symmetry between horse racing and rugby.


You are dealing with athletic performance, recovery, the onus is on peaking over a season and having certain big targets in mind.


That’s the process for a racehorse trainer or someone training a squad of rugby players. It’s about hitting those occasional high points.


With the Ospreys at present, the target is peaking through this next season with what is a very young squad.


When I first went back into training after my stint with Wales this summer, there must have been around 50 per cent of the squad who I didn’t really know.


Some of them are 13 years younger than me, so it’s a bit scary. It reminded me of when I first started out with Cardiff, except now I’m the old guy.


But we’ve all blended together and there are new developments to get excited about, like playing a home game against the Sharks at the Twickenham Stoop.


There is a sense of optimism around, and I think it stems from the fact that the game in Wales has moved on from the lows and all the uncertainty we had last season.


There are bound to be a few struggles over the next couple of years with a very young squad, but there are going to be big benefits for these young players in the long run.


There are huge games against the likes of Leinster and Munster, the South African teams, plus the Welsh derbies, so although the learning on the job has to be rapid, the progress will be there, too.


It’s not how you take the first fence. It’s whether you’re still there in the final furlong.

I’m Devastated by Our World Cup loss . . . but There are Bright Days Ahead

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By Sportin Wales Co Founder and Wales Rugby Union Player GARETH ANSCOMBE

Life goes on, but I’ll admit here and now I was devastated to go out of the World Cup at the quarter-final stage.


That feeling was there for every Wales player out in France.


Losing to Argentina was a big, huge, missed opportunity. We knew it at the time, and we’ll all be feeling it for a while.


Had we made the semi-finals, it would have felt like a positive reflection of our efforts out in France. But to go out at the first knockout stage – especially to those opponents – felt an under-achievement.


No disrespect to the Pumas, they’re a decent team. But when you looked at the qualities of some of the teams we could have been playing in the last eight, you realise it was a chance that needed seizing.


I missed the match because I wasn’t fit after suffering a groin injury. It would have been touch-and-go to make the semi-final for me, but I felt my rehab was progressing.


So, that makes the defeat even more disappointing and frustrating.


My wife is pretty good at guiding me towards a positive outlook and so I have to look at the tournament as a whole and what I feel I achieved, personally.


That emphatic victory over Australia in the key pool game will always be memorable for me, a match I’ll always be proud of.


Walking around afterwards, sharing that moment with the fans and my kids, was pretty special. I’ll never forget it.


To be there in that euphoria, and experience it with my daughter and my son in my arms, was incredible.


If I had to pick one moment on the field to savour, it would probably be my chip kick to create the try for Nick Tompkins. It was a play that worked perfectly.


It also felt like the decisive blow against the Aussies at the time, when we had fully burst their bubble.


There was also another lovely family moment before the Georgia game, when I did a sit-down interview with S4C.


I was asked to do it at short notice the night before and I’ll admit I got a little grumpy with our media manager, Verity.


What I didn’t know was that it had been set up so my wife and kids could come in and surprise me. I had to give Verity a big hug of apology after that one.


It means a lot to every player when they can experience those special family moments. Our partners and children make sacrifices, so it’s right they should be able to share those memories.


But within a couple of days after losing to Argentina, we were back home and you’re left wondering: how did that happen?


Those are things all sports people find tough – the times when you put everything into an objective and it doesn’t work out.


These are the lows to go with the highs, and it can be a difficult thing to then pick up the threads with the regular week-by-week matches.


It will take every player time to adjust from the high of the Rugby World Cup, to going back into regional rugby. What’s fortunate for me is that I’ve now got something new and exciting to look forward to – my spell playing in Japan that is just about to begin.


I’ll be heading out there around the start of November, with the idea that I meet up with my new Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath teammates on November 6.


I aim to play some pre-season games and then be ready for the first match, which just happens to be against Liam Williams’ new team – Kubota Spears – on December 10.


Hopefully, I can the get ball out early to Cheslin Kolbe on the wing and he can do some damage against Liam’s team.


I won’t be available for the Six Nations this season, but as I’ve said before, I’m certainly not retiring from international rugby.


I’ve had initial conversations with Warren Gatland about my availability for the summer tour to Australia and we’ll see how that pans out.


But for the immediate future, with Dan Biggar retiring from Test rugby that means there is a Wales No.10 shirt up for grabs in the Six Nations in a few weeks’ time.

Sam Costello has shown a little bit of the huge potential he has, and I think it’s going to now do him the world of good to get a few Tests in the jersey.

He still has a lot to learn, but he’s a good kid with a good head on his shoulders and there are others who can come forward to challenge him.

The future’s bright. . . bright red.

Wales and Manchester United Footballer - GEMMA EVANS

Red Devil . . . Wales Star Gemma Evans Is On The Rise


Five years ago, Gemma Evans was playing football for Yeovil Town while any dream she harboured of one day running out for Manchester United was hindered by the fact they didn’t actually run a women’s team.


But this month, the Wales defender expects to be playing in a Manchester derby moved from the team’s regular 12,000-capacity Leigh Sports Village ground to Old Trafford – potentially in front of more than 50,000 fans.


Nothing quite illustrates the head-back G-force acceleration of women’s football quite like the Manchester United v Manchester City Women’s Super League (WSL) fixture scheduled for November 19.


From not existing in 2018, United’s women’s team have World Cup finalists like Mary Earps and Ella Toone in their ranks as well as the Brazilian superstar, Geyse.

Evans – who moved to United from Reading in the summer – is clinging on for the ride after a personal gear change almost as rapid as her new club’s.


The 27-year-old centre-back won her 50th cap earlier this year and is widely tipped as Wales’ next captain in succession to Sophie Ingle, but even Evans admits to a sense of disbelief over quite how much her life has changed.


“A few years ago, I would be training between seven and eight o’clock in the evening on a council field and the only people who watched me play were my family,” says Evans, who grew up in Gelli in the Rhondda.


“Now, I could be running out to play in front of tens of thousands at Old Trafford and everything in the background – the facilities, the equipment, the coaching – has just gone through the roof.


“But it’s nothing more than we deserve. Women have had to fight so hard to knock down barriers, overcome negative press, and even now we are still a way behind the men’s game.


“I’m grateful for how it’s gone, but it’s going to get even better.”


Comparison with the men’s game is usually the yardstick by which women’s football is measured, although sometimes it’s just a plain old stick to dish out metaphorical beatings on social media.


Unlike her male counterparts employed by the same club, Evans is not a multi-millionaire and does not live in an eight-bedroomed mansion in Chesire.


She is based near Salford and reckons her brief few months with the club have yet to mean she is recognised in coffee bars, shops or petrol stations around the city.


“I did get stopped in the Apple shop the other day, but that was because I was with Tooney (England Lioness, Ella Toone), but other than that I don’t get anyone stop me when I’m walking the dog.”


Modest and grounded, Evans says when someone asks her what she does for a living she replies, “footballer” without yet adding the Manchester United bit.


She does use the same Carrington training ground as Marcus Rashford, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes, but says interaction between the squads is not very common because of the geography.


“The men’s team train over the other side of the training ground and they’re in a different building to us.


“So, I couldn’t really say how their facilities compare to ours because I haven’t really seen them yet. But the fact that we are now going to be playing at Old Trafford for that derby game is just amazing.


“For the fans and for women’s football in general, it’s an incredible step. When Arsenal played Liverpool on the opening weekend, there were 53,000 people inside the Emirates Stadium.


“I don’t know how much further the game can progress in the time before I retire, but for the next generation the change is going to be massive.


“Whether we will end up playing every game at Old Trafford, who knows? That might be difficult because of the fixture list for the men’s team, but maybe we’ll have our own women’s team stadium at some point, like they have at Manchester City.”


This will be a busy period of the season for Evans, who began her football career with Ton & Gelli Boys and Girls Football Club, before progressing through Ferndale Fillies, Port Talbot Town and Cardiff City before moving into the WSL with Yeovil.


Less than a fortnight after that Manchester derby clash, she is scheduled to play in two Wales international matches as their Women’s Nations League campaign concludes.


Manager Gemma Grainger and her team play back-to-back home games at the Cardiff City Stadium against Iceland (December 1) and Germany (December 5).


In spite of a sometimes-bumpy campaign as Wales find their feet against high quality opposition, the surge in interest in the women’s game around the WSL and England Lionesses, has been reflected in the growing attendances for Wales games.


For Evans, the interesting aspect has been the composition of the Red Wall being built by an emerging fan base.


“It’s been really good to see fans who have watched the men’s Wales games, now also watching the women.


“We want that Red Wall to get bigger and we want them to know how much we appreciate them. That’s why we always give them time at the end of every game.


“I’ve always had amazing friends, female or male, who have come to watch me, but now there are other male supporters coming, and this is why we need to keep our performances at the top level.


“We have to give back to them, what they are giving to us.”


Evans credits Grainger for reviving her international career since the manager succeeded Jayne Ludlow two-and-a-half years ago.


“She has been great for me. Under Jayne, I didn’t really play a lot, but I think I’ve played in every game so far under Gemma.


“She has allowed us a bit more freedom, but within a structure. That’s been the biggest change. She has also given me more belief in myself.


“She says herself I was super quiet, and now I’m like this communicator, arms going everywhere, telling people what to do.”


The women’s international game should have reached peak scrutiny with the World Cup Final in the summer, but instead it was the fall-out from the Luis Rubiales affair that dominated attention.


The disgraced former Spanish FA president eventually quit in the aftermath of the unwanted grabbing and kissing of Spanish player Jenni Hermoso.


In Spain the debate has progressed around power, authority and control of the women’s game – a conversation players like England captain Millie Bright have echoed around topics such as playing schedules and player welfare.


Evans says she was distraught by the way Spain were denied their full credit but is optimistic some good may emerge in the path women’s football carves out for itself in the future.


“It was a massive shame how Spain’s achievement in winning the World Cup was overshadowed by what happened next,” she says.


“But the one positive, is that the players found their voice, they spoke out and their federation eventually made changes.


“I think they showed their strength, their power, and their ability to insist on change.


“That is going to be one of the most important things as women’s football continues to develop.”







anna southgate