JES Group announced as principal league partner

Wales Rugby League is thrilled to announce JES Group as principal partner of the South Wales men’s league.

As part of the partnership, the competition will be known as the JES Group Rugby League Conference and will feature eight teams facing each other once, plus one randomly drawn loop fixture.

The top four sides will progress to the play-offs, which will conclude on Grand Finals Day at The Gnoll in Neath on Sunday 18th August.

Players from the clubs gathered at Aberavon Green Stars on Wednesday evening to officially launch the season, which will kick-off with three matches this Saturday. South Wales Jets will begin the defence of their title against Bridgend Blue Bulls, the most successful team in the 20 years the league has been played.

The clubs will compete for a new trophy, especially made using a piece of steel from the blast furnaces in Port Talbot. 

Operating out of The Docks in Port Talbot, JES Group has been part of the community since being founded in 1982 with a small workshop and a labour force of eight men at a facility in Taibach.

The company expanded and evolved whilst enhancing its reputation within the fields of engineering it provided products to. The majority of JES work has been undertaken in the steel industry, and in May 2017 the company had a substantial overhaul with the appointment of Justin Johnson as a Director and employing a number of high end managers. JES are currently running at over 85 employees.

Earlier this year, they launched the JES Skills Academy – a Centre of Excellence for the development of fabrication and welding skills aligned with industry need and the opportunities presented by the Celtic Freeport.​

Expert face-to-face tuition and mentoring; a full range of specialist training courses, use of the latest immersive and interactive digital technologies alongside the vast range of skills accumulated by the existing workforce, will enable Academy graduates to be work ready.

While ‘The Skills Academy’ will help JES as a company to transform, diversify and grow, it is wholly inclusive, open and available to all.

Unique in south Wales, it seeks the partnerships, collaboration and relationships that will help develop the welding and fabrication industry in Wales by strengthening its workforce.

Speaking at the launch, Justin, a former Wales Students international, said: “I’m honoured for us to ask to be involved and partner with Wales Rugby League.

“I spoke with Richard and could see his passion and felt we had to get on board with this. Rugby league is very close to my heart. My godfather, Kerry Sheehy brought rugby league to Port Talbot and my dad played for Aberavon. My father passed that love of rugby league onto me.

“I think rugby league brings some refreshing and exciting to the sporting landscape in Wales.

“The trophy being made of steel ties into the role of both the sport and industry within local communities, and we think it’s a great way to bring those two​ things together.”

Richard Hibbard, Chief Executive Officer of Wales Rugby League added: “We’re delighted to have entered into partnership with JES Group. We are both organisations which are passionate about making a positive impact on communities and believe that working together, we can continue to do that.

“To launch the league in the shadow of the steelworks felt really fitting, and now we’re excited for the season to kick-off on Saturday. To be able to take the Grand Finals Day, one of the highlights of the calendar, to an iconic rugby venue such as The Gnoll, is something to really look forward to. When we have junior finals and the final of the JES Group Rugby League Conference on the same day, it’ll be a wonderful occasion for the sport.

“To grow Wales Rugby League and achieve our ambitions we need to build partnerships, and this is a great one to get us started.”

Saturday’s fixtures are South Wales Jets v Bridgend Blue Bulls, Swansea Rams v Cynon Valley Cavaliers and South Wales Saints v Rhondda Outlaws.