'Mr Newport' hails current crop of Black and Ambers aiming to make club history
BRIAN Jones has pretty much seen it all at Rodney Parade but ‘Mr Newport’ hopes to cheer the current crop of double-chasing Black and Ambers on to a club first on Saturday.
Newport are enjoying a superb 2021/22 that could end with a pair of additions to the club’s lengthy honours list.
Ty Morris’ men are within touching distance of the Premiership title thanks to their record of eight wins from eight game and on Saturday they aim to move to within 80 minutes of knockout glory.
Standing in their way are Cardiff and if a semi-final against old foes at Pontypridd’s Sardis Road wasn’t big enough, Newport could record a first in their rich history.
“I don’t want to tempt fate but if – and it is IF – they win then it would be the first time of winning four times against those Blue and Black gentlemen from down the Newport Road,” said Jones.
The 86-year-old is a Newport icon after a 15-year-old playing career of 330 appearances that was followed by being coach, chairman, committee member, club ambassador and now president.
Jones, who completed a hat-trick of southern hemisphere scalps by beating New Zealand and Australia with the Black and Ambers plus South Africa with the Barbarians, is proud of what his successors are achieving this season.
“I played in Newport sides that won three and lost or drew one, I captained Newport and we had three victories and a draw,” said ‘BJ’.
“I coached Newport when Brian Price was captain and we were magnificent in a season, losing just four games, and we beat Cardiff three times but drew 9-9 in the final game at the Arms Park.
“Gareth Edwards scored their nine points and Keith Jarrett, when Barry Llewelyn ran through Barry John from a peel at the lineout to score by the posts, hit the upright with a conversion.
“On Saturday, as president, it would be the icing on the cake of a long career at Rodney Parade if Ty and his team can achieve that fourth success.
“If they beat Cardiff on Saturday it would be the greatest thrill of my rugby career, and that is genuine!”
Newport have lost just twice all season but have been hit by a lengthy injury list and are braced to go up against a Cardiff side bolstered by professionals who missed the league game at the start of the month because of regional duty.
The Black and Ambers could well fall short again in their bid for a quartet of wins against their rivals from the Arms Park but Jones has hailed the achievements of the team, and praise from such a figure is to be cherished.
“I have played in many good Newport sides, scintillating Newport sides at times, but not with the kind of consistency that this one has shown this season,” he admired.
“When they restarted training after lockdown, the enthusiasm generated by Ty and his coaches had to be seen to be believed.
“All that hard, basic training that was done has led to a Newport side who are playing some outstanding rugby, but also has a winning mentality.
“They are an attractive side to watch and have scored some wonderful tries, individually and collectively.
“I don’t take anything for granted but I do think that they deserve to win something purely and simply because of the style and quality of the rugby they have played. That would be just reward for their hard work and perseverance.”