You might think that West Wales is something of a sporting wilderness, but think again! There is plenty here to keep you amused if you simply have to get out the house at the weekend.
By far the biggest club in the region is the Scarlets who play in the Magners League, as well as competing in the EDF Energy Cup and the Heineken Cup. The region was originally named the Llanelli Scarlets but was renamed at the start of the 2008–09 rugby season, following the lead of the Ospreys in 2005.
The Llanelli Scarlets were founded in 2003, as one of the regional teams created by the Welsh Rugby Union when it reshuffled the entire game. The Scarlets are represented by the Llanelli RFC, Carmarthen RFC, Llandovery RFC and Narberth RFC.
From 1879 to 2008 Llanelli played their games at Stradey Park near the town centre. The ground witnessed many memorable games including the defeat of Australia in 1967 and the All Blacks in 1972. The last ever game to be played at Stradey Park was played on 24 October 2008. In an EDF Energy Cup match between the Scarlets and Bristol, the Scarlets won 27-0. Many tears were shed.
The club’s new stadium, Parc y Scarlets was constructed in nearby Pemberton, and opened in November 2008.
The Ffos Las racecourse was built at the site of the open cast coal mine after mining operations ceased and is the first new National Hunt racecourse to be built in the United Kingdom for 80 years, and Wales’s third. Ffos Las was built at a cost of £20 million, with the racetrack itself an oval 12 furlongs in length.
The course opened on June 18, 2009 when it held its first race meeting to a sell-out crowd of 10,000. The first ever race at Ffos Las was won by 15-8 second favourite Plunkett ridden by Donal Fahy, trained by Evan Williams and owned by Hywel Jones.
In 2010, there are 28 race meetings planned, including a three day Flat programme in August and a two mile £60,000 conditions race on January 9. The racecourse owners intend to introduce a new Celtic Festival in future years to be held around St. David’s Day.
Visit the website at www.ffoslasracecourse.com
Swansea City A.F.C. moved from the Vetch Field to the new Liberty Stadium at the start of the 2005–2006 season, winning promotion to League One in their final year at their old home. Visit the official club website here
Swansea also has four clubs that play in Welsh Football League: Garden Village, Morriston Town, South Gower and West End.
In 2003, Swansea RFC merged with Neath RFC to form the Neath-Swansea Ospreys rugby club.Swansea RFC remained at St Helen’s in semi-professional form and currently play in the Welsh Premiership, but the Ospreys moved to the Liberty Stadium for the start of the 2005–2006 season. The final Ospreys match at St Helen’s was played on the same day as the final Swans league game at the Vetch on April 30, 2005. Neath-Swansea rugby games used to be hotly-contested matches, such that there was some debate about whether a team incorporating both areas was possible. The Ospreys came fifth in the Celtic League in their first year of existence and topped it in their second.
St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground is also the former home of first-class cricket in West Wales and Glamorgan County Cricket Club currently play some county and first-class matches there. It was in this ground that Sir Garfield Sobers hit six sixes in one over; the first time the feat was achieved in a game of first-class cricket.
The Swansea Bowls Stadium opened in early 2008. The stadium hosted the World Indoor Singles and Mixed Pairs Championship from in April 2008. It also hosted the Gravelles Welsh International Open Bowls Championships 2009, part of the World Bowls Tour 2008/2009.