Using the opportunity provided by the SWALEC Cup, three North Wales sides played against Welsh Premiership sides this weekend.
A major boost for plans to develop rugby in North Wales has been announced with the selection of a new base for the Gogledd Cymru team which is being tasked with taking the game to a new elite level in the region.
Gogledd Cymru will establish Parc Eirias in Colwyn Bay as its main home ground with the support of Conwy County Borough Council.
A joint project board involving the local authority, members of the North Wales Rugby Council, the Welsh Rugby Union and Rygbi Gogledd Cymru has been set up to establish the structure and operational capacity of the Gogledd Cymru team and its headquarters.The project board will work alongside a WRU working party which has been set up to report on how the Gogledd Cymru team will be developed to provide meaningful competition and a clear pathway for elite players seeking to establish careers as rugby professionals.
WRU Board representative for North Wales, Peredur Jenkins, said: “The establishment of Parc Eirias as the headquarters for Gogledd Cymru is a significant step forward. It is a perfect location. The excellent road links will ensure supporters from all over north Wales will be able to get to the games.
WRU Chairman, David Pickering, said: “This is an extremely positive step forward which will help realise our ambitions for elite rugby in North Wales. Parc Eirias has massive potential as a rugby venue and I look forward to watching some great games here in the near future.
WRU President, Dennis Gethin added: “North Wales has a proud history of developing great players. You only have to consider people like Robin McBryde, the Moore brothers and the likes of Dewi Bebb to know that Welsh rugby needs a powerful and robust elite structure in the north. We all share a vision for what can be achieved and I know we have the right people working together to achieve our goals.”
Conwy Council’s Leader, Cllr Dilwyn Roberts said: “We are delighted to welcome the Gogledd Cymru team to Colwyn Bay and hope that this will be a great boost for rugby in north Wales. We’re particularly eager to see more young people participating in sport and we believe that bringing high profile games to the area will inspire and encourage youngsters. We’re planning to work closely with the other north Wales authorities to ensure that any regeneration and economic opportunities that arise from this scheme can benefit the whole region.”
WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis visited Parc Eirias in October of this year to meet with Conwy County Borough Council and said, “Developing rugby in North Wales is not only critical for all of Welsh rugby but also in supporting the economic ambitions of the region. I was deeply impressed by the commitment of Conwy County Borough Council to develop rugby in their area and moreover, took great heart from the impressive facilities they already have in place at Parc Eirias. The future looks very positive indeed.”
Gogledd Cymru team manager Kenton Morgan said: "These developments could not have been achieved without the commitment of the clubs, players and coaches in the north Wales Region. Parc Eirias is part of the process of providing rugby players, referees and supporters with the opportunity to experience top class rugby in the region. It is exciting to see the rugby dreams of north Wales becoming a reality.”
Vaughan Jones, Chairman North Wales Rugby Council (NWRC) said: "This project is a milestone in the history of the development of rugby in north Wales. It will be a stepping stone to a semi-pro team in our region and provide a pathway for our players to professional and national honours, which is every aspiring rugby player’s dream. Seven of our Gogledd Cymru under 16 team have this week been selected in the Wales national u16 training squad - this is directly due to the WRU decision this season to include a Gogledd Cymru team and thus give our youngsters exposure in the national age grade championship.”
“This project will boost our capacity to provide players for national selection. Wales is a small country and we in north Wales which covers 50% of the area and nearly a third (1m) in population are eager to play an increasing effective role in providing quality players to the Welsh cause. The positive spin-off opportunities on offer to players in our clubs and communities throughout the region are huge and I applaud the WRU for recognising the potential here, and Conwy Council for their vision and commitment to this project which will benefit the whole region."
Gales, the calm and then a storm which might have sent Noah running for the ark, were the setting for Gogledd Cymru’s 28-8 first home victory last night.
Parc Eirias was a venue fitting of a prospective semi-professional side, as Billy Evans Mayor of Llandudno welcomed both teams.
Liverpool University fielded a strong side which included Ospreys academy's Geraint Whittaker and Mold’s Alex Green in their line up.
Playing with the wind, this was a game that the Gog’s had to win, but any suggestion that it was going to be a rout were dispelled when Whittaker scored a try out wide, after five minutes, to give the students a 5 nil lead.
With instructions this year to be particularly vigilant in preventing “killing of the ball” at the ruck, repeated infringements by the students, the keen eye of referee Mark Wilcox and the precision kicking of centre Rhodri Carlton-Jones meant that the Gogs were soon ahead by 9-5.
Carlton-Jones struck again half way through the first half, stepping outside his opposite number to touch down 10 metres in. He added an excellent conversion to make it 16-5.
The wind dropped and the University struck an excellent long range penalty bring the score to 16-8, before Gogs young centre Steffan Morgan slipped a pass to wing Iwan Edwards, who, running from deep scored in the corner. It was 21-8 at the break.
In the second half, conditions deteriorated, the University showed a physical presence and at times the Gog’s players showed what a toll playing club games on a Saturday and training 3 times a week, takes on their bodies. They looked tired. At times they were almost invisible as the rain hissed onto the covered stand at Parc Eirias.
The Gogs were now comfortably ahead but their performance continued to frustrate coach Jon Aby, who felt that there was insufficient aggression and skillful superiority in the contact area.
In the second half , a kick into space by 10, Kelvin Morris, chased by Edwyn Roberts, forced an attacking lineout on the students 5 metre line. From here second row Trystan Rowlands went over for the only try of the second half. Carlton-Jones converted to bring his own tally up to 18 points and the final score to 28-8.
After a year without a win, this is the third win for the Gogs this season. Winning games requires a different starting mentality; that of superiority, dominance and invincibility. The Gogs are new to this experience and at times this showed in the game last night. Bala’s tight head Tom Hughes excelled in the scrum and young Llion Trefor continued to impress in the second row. Team: M. Parry, I. Edwards, R. Carlton-Jones, S. Morgan (40: S. McDonagh), E. Roberts, K. Morris, C.Williams (sub60: R. Hughes), W. Bown (Capt), R. Edwards (sub60: J. Salt), E. Roberts (sub60: A. Williams), T. Rowlands, Ll. Trefor, T. Hughes (sub60: A. Jones), A Baston (sub 60: L. Gill), E. Davies.
This may prove to be one of the most significant weeks in the history of North Wales Rugby. The WRU has reaffirmed its commitment to semiprofessional rugby offered by the strategic plan and granted the region development status.
It was against this headline that team Gogledd Cymru, the commited group of North Wales players who, under the tutelage of Jon Aby, have acheived so much during the past 18 months, took to the field against a large West Park St Helens squad.
At the final whistle the score was 26-17 to the Gogs and another stepping stone had been placed in the region's march towards Premiership rugby. The result was both justified and fitting for a week which has seen the WRU establish a high level working group to chart the pathway of Gogledd Cymru into the semiprofessional game.
Twenty hours before kick-off scrum half Patchet picked up a training injury and with all five alternative squad scrum halves either injured or unavailable things looked bleak. Once again Gogledd Cymru's unique coach nomination system came to the rescue with Dinbych's coach Tegid Phillips and scrum half Rhun Jones responding to the emergency call.
It was this partnership between Jones and Caernarfon's Kelvin Morris which was to prove critical to the Gog's success. Morris ran in three tries and added the conversions.
West Park opened the scoring with a break by their ever threatening South African scrum half to go 5 points up. Gogledd Cymru came close to scoring on a number of occasions but inexperience and hesitation, in end game decision making, denied them. The Gogs first score came from hooker Baston, who, showing both speed and self belief, beat four defenders to score just wide of the posts. Morris converted to put the Gogs in the lead 7-5 at the break.
In the second half, the forwards, led by hard working captain William Bown, began to dominate the scrum and with the deft use of the wind Morris pinned the opposition into their 22 for long periods. With the score at 19-5 the game seemed won but West Park showed that they were not beaten an individual converted try to make 19-12. Gogledd responded to make it 26-12 and in the dying minutes a second breakaway try brought the score to 26-17.
Players from 10 clubs were represented in this truly regional side. When semiprofessional rugby is a reality in North Wales, the real heros will be the players who clamber off midweek team buses at stops between St Asaph and Parc Menai 6 or seven hours after starting their journey for nothing more than the dream of a better future.
In front of a rain swept crowd, the Drovers ran in tries in abundance with a skilful display of open rugby which must have heartened new coach Rob Appleyard. The final score was 62-0. Gogledd Cymru had a chance to put points on the board with penalties in front of the posts but this would have been a meaningless gesture.
The purpose of the game was to support Bryan Yogi Davies and Llandovery showed great generosity in offering a fixture which supported Yogi and the development of the regional side.
Gogledd Cymru relied on 3 last minute replacements to field a side, with 12 back-line players unavailable for selection, but this was not a day for excuses. On Saturday, Llandovery demonstrated the gap between Division 1 (North) rugby and the Premiership with some wonderful running rugby and tries that demonstrated a combination of individual flair and practiced moves. At its simplest, players were faster, fitter and stronger but at team level the superior core skills, shape and tactical awareness that come from training together four times a week were evident. For Gogledd Cymru, there can be no illusion as to the task ahead.
Developing a Premiership rugby team was always going to be a process and yesterday was a rallying call to everyone associated with rugby in North Wales.
IT'S CALLED WINNING
It was a measure of how far Gogledd Cymru have come that there was no celebration last night as they recorded their first win since they began their march towards the Premiership.
They beat Liverpool St Helens 10-5, in a four quartered, rolling subsitute, friendly. It could have been 30-5 . Gogledd Cymru created try scoring chances in abundance but a series of dropped or mis-timed passes frustrated both players and spectators.
Will Bown was inspirational as captain and Sean McDonagh and Harri Morgan ran in excellent tries. Llion Trefor continued to impress and the raw talents of young Dewi James and Andrew Williams in the backrow provide a platform for development. Mathew Parry and Rhodri Carlton-Jones were wizard like in attack but too many times the Gogs squandered possession and failed to preserve space.
At 10pm on a warm August evening, when the team boarded the bus in St Helens for far flung destinations in Caernarfon and Anglesey, there was no doubt in any of the players minds of the mission ahead. In defeat, the phrase "it is not about winning" seemed an excuse. Success reiterated this. It is about performance, skill, decision making and flair. Triumph and Disaster are mere imposters in the progress of this team towards rugby excellence.
It could have been a fairytale ending for the committed band of North Walean players who have done so much to put Gogledd Cymru on the map this season. Twelve all and five minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty which would have given them the win they so richly deserved. It was not to be. The Combined Army Corps took the three points from a penalty in the dying minutes to win 15-12.
Mathew Parry kicks the conversion for one of Gogledd Cymru's three tries against Sale Jets.
This was always going to be a tough call for Gogledd Cymru, a rearranged fixture at the end of the season with work, injury, local cup games and rearranged club fixtures making 20 of the squad unavailable for selection. At the Sunday training session before the game it was clear that Gogledd Cymru would have a stripped down squad with only one substitute. The sudden withdrawal of Ynyr Edwards, six hours before kick off, in favour of a game for Rhyl and the failure of Iestyn Dafydd (Llangefni) to turn up left 14 players in the dressing room at Heywood Road wondering whether there was really a future for regional rugby in North Wales.
The team took the field with two players, both North Walians, "borrowed" from the Sale side.
Watched by Phillipe Saint Andre and Kingsley Jones, the side played with passion and flair scoring 3 excellent tries in a 57-19 defeat. This excellent performance changed the attitude of the players, who came off the field feeling positive about the future of rugby in the region. Coach Jon Aby was also pleased with the shape and character of the side and Andre and Jones were impressed by the attitude and tenacity of a side that was clearly playing for the future of rugby in the region.
There were excellent debut performances from James Salt (Llandudno) and Elgan Davies, James Jones and Grant Jones (Nant Conwy). There were fine touches from Rhodri Carlton-Jones (Llandudno) and Mathew Parry (Llangefni) controlled the game well from 10. Osian Edwards (Denbigh) stepped up to the mark, moving to hooker as Andrew Baston covered the gap in the back row. Llion Trefor the young Bethesda second row continues to show that he is a force for the future and Rhys Hughes (Ruthin) now in his 10th season playing for the regional team provided the motivation and inspiration to lift the players from their pre-match blues.
Being short of players happens even to Grand Slam teams. In the 1987 World Cup Wales also found themselves a player short. They called up a 19 year old Dai Young who happened to be in Australia and lost to New Zealand 49-6.
Establishing Gogledd Cymru was always going to be a non-linear process. The process continues.
"2010 - 2011
A North Wales semi-professional team playing in the Premiership. This is a realistic goal and work towards setting up the organisation, administration, coaches, finances and facilities should start in 2006/2007. "
So reads Section 12.2 of the "North Wales Rugby Union Strategic Plan". Initiated by Gerald Davies in 2006 and approved by the WRU Exective, this public document lays out the future for rugby in North Wales. It is available in Welsh at http://www.geocities.com/districtjrugby/wplan.doc and English at http://www.geocities.com/districtjrugby/eplan.doc
In the past year Gogledd Cymru has demonsrated that it is rising to the challenge which this opportunity offers the fledgling regional side. This is what we have achieved.
1. We have established a product - Gogledd Cymru - with clear aims and objectives.
2. We have a training facility and pitch at Eirias Park Colwyn Bay which meets Premiership standard. It is also in the right geographical area to serve North Wales. This will be our home ground in 2008-9.
3. We have established a process of team development with players drawn from the clubs of North Wales.
4. We have fulfilled all the fixtures on a fixture list which exposes players to a higher level of rugby than Division 4.
5. We have engaged the local business community in financial support.
6. We have a management, coaching and medical team and a business plan which will take us to the Premiership.
7. We have reversed the negativity and cynicism about North Wales Senior Rugby
Gogledd Cymru aims to be the best team in Wales and most health conscious, player centric team in Europe. The team recognises that this a process which will not happen overnight. It has already demonstrated the organisational capability and ambition to function at the highest level.
Gogledd Cymru - Live the dream
Anglesey seemed a long way away as the bus pulled into Burntwood RFC at 7.00pm on 2nd April, three and a half hours after leaving Bangor. Gogledd Cymru seemed even further from home at half time with a score of 27-0. Second half, the situation was reversed with Gogledd Cymru scoring 17 to Staffordshire's 7. It was the manner in which thes tries were scored that left a depleted team feeling positive about the evening's work.
Four players stepped into the Gogledd Cymru side at short notice to cover the injuries to wing Huw Parry, centres Robson and Carlton-Jones, backrow forwards Richard (Tin Tin) Hughes and Huw Jones and second row Rowlands, Haydock and Roberts.
It took a while for the new players to bed into the side but when Gogledd Cymru started to spread the ball wide in the second half they began to score. In all there were three tries, with Edwin Roberts and Andrew Baston scoring one each. Possession remained a major issue for Gogledd Cymru. The young pack with Llion Trefor(Bethesda), again outstanding, and Dewi James (Nant Conwy), playing his first game for the Gogs, had their work cut out. They missed the stablising influence of injured captain Will Bown.
Mathew Parry showed that he is returning to full fitness with good control of the game and Rhys Hughes was a pugnacious as ever around the scrum.
The Gogs pressurized the Staffordshire line in the second half and but for errors in decision making and handling would have scored more points. Gogledd Cymru were given an excellent welcome by the Staffordshire officials and look forward to this becoming a regular fixture.
MATCH DAY 1 6 JUNE 2008
1. 17.00 A New Zealand v Tonga Cardiff RFC
2. 19.00 A Argentina v Ireland Cardiff RFC
3. 17.00 B South Africa v USA Wrexham AFC
4. 19.00 B Samoa v Scotland Wrexham AFC
5. 17.00 C Australia v Canada Rodney Parade, Newport
6. 19.00 C England v Fiji Rodney Parade, Newport
7. 17.00 D France v Japan Liberty Stadium, Swansea
8. 19.00 D Wales v Italy Liberty Stadium, Swansea
MATCH DAY 2 10 JUNE 2008
9. 17.00 A Argentina v Tonga Cardiff RFC
10. 19.00 A New Zealand v Ireland Cardiff RFC
11. 17.00 B Samoa v USA Wrexham AFC
12. 19.00 B South Africa v Scotland Wrexham AFC
13. 17.00 C England v Canada Rodney Parade, Newport
14. 19.00 C Australia v Fiji Rodney Parade, Newport
15. 17.00 D France v Italy Liberty Stadium, Swansea
16. 19.00 D Wales v Japan Liberty Stadium, Swansea
MATCH DAY 3 14 JUNE 2008
17. 15.00 A Ireland v Tonga Cardiff RFC
18. 17.00 A New Zealand v Argentina Cardiff RFC
19. 15.00 B Scotland v USA Wrexham AFC
20. 17.00 B South Africa v Samoa Wrexham AFC
21. 15.00 C Fiji v Canada Rodney Parade, Newport
22. 17.00 C Australia v England Rodney Parade, Newport
23. 15.00 D Japan v Italy Liberty Stadium, Swansea
24. 17.00 D Wales v France Liberty Stadium, Swansea
MATCH DAY 4 18 JUNE 2008
25. 17.00 4th Group A v 4th Group D Wrexham AFC
26. 19.00 4th Group B v 4th Group C Wrexham AFC
27. 17.00 3rd Group A v 3rd Group D Cardiff RFC
28. 17.00 3rd Group B v 3rd Group C Rodney Parade, Newport
29. 17.00 2nd Group A v 2nd Group D Liberty Stadium, Swansea
30. 19.00 2nd Group B v 2nd Group C Liberty Stadium, Swansea
31. 19.00 1st Group A v 1st Group D Rodney Parade, Newport
32. 19.00 1st Group C v 1st Group B Cardiff RFC
FINAL DAY – NORTH WALES 21 JUNE 2008
33. 18.00 Winner Match 25 v Winner Match 26 Wrexham AFC
34. 20.00 Loser Match 25 v Loser Match 26 Wrexham AFC
FINAL DAY – SOUTH WALES 22 JUNE 2008
35. 13.00 Loser Match 27 v Loser Match 28 Cardiff RFC
36. 15.00 Winner Match 29 v Winner Match 30 Cardiff RFC
37. 13.00 Winner Match 27 v Winner Match 28 Rodney Parade, Newport
38. 15.00 Loser Match 29 v Loser Match 30 Rodney Parade, Newport
39. 17.00 Loser Match 31 v Loser Match 32 Liberty Stadium, Swansea
40. 19.00 CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL Winner Match 31 v Winner 32 Liberty Stadium, Swansea
GOGLEDD CYMRU TAKE THE MILLENIUM STADIUM BY STORM
This was Gogledd Cymru’s most competitive performance to date. In terrible conditions, which resulted in the venue being switched from Rumney RFC to the neighbouring University playing grounds, the two teams took to the field in torrential rain.
Wales Deaf, the current Deaf Rugby World Champions, fresh from a recent 66-7 win against their English counterparts, took the lead with a try by number eight Adam Brake who drove over from 5 metres. Converted by outside half Richard Lewis, Wales looked to build on their lead. However astute positional kicking by Gogledd Cymru outside half Mathew Parry ensured they were pinned in their own half for long periods.
On 34 minutes, Wales Deaf centre Gareth John took advantage of forward pressure inside the North Wales 22 to slot a well taken drop goal and extend the lead to 10 – 0. Two minutes before the break, indiscretion at a ruck by Wales Deaf allowed Gogledd Cymru to register points on the board with Parry kicking the penalty.
After the break, Gogledd Cymru started brightly; probing close to the Wales Deaf try line. With the hosts on the back foot and the Gogs threatening to break through, great anticipation by Wales Deaf centre John saw him race away for an opportunist interception try. Outside half Richard Lewis converted from in front of the posts. Down 17 – 3 after 46 minutes Gogledd Cymru continued to pressurise when young second row Llion Trefor gathered a poor defensive kick and crashed over for a try.
Encouraged by the 17-8 score line, Gogledd Cymru continued to press with outside half Rhodri Carlton controlling matters at 10. Despite some strong running and good interplay from the Gogs, with Rhys Hughes, and Llion Trefor outstanding, the host’s defence held up. With 5 minutes left on the clock, outside half Lewis sealed the victory with a blind side break to slide over in the corner.
Geraint John, team manager for Wales Deaf said: “At times, the conditions proved difficult for both sides and Gogledd Cymru provided us with a stern test. They came back strongly and enjoyed long periods in our half thanks to some good tactical kicking and a sound lineout. We look forward to a return fixture in North Wales next season. This fixture will give us the momentum to further help the development of deaf rugby in Wales.”
The Wales Deaf rugby team are the present Deaf Rugby World Champions having defeated New Zealand at the inaugural 2002 World Cup in Eden Park, Auckland. Players representing the team have an average hearing loss of 25dB across both ears.
Tries (3), Adam Brake (Rumney RFC), Gareth John (Tonna RFC) and Richard Lewis (Tonna RFC)
Conversion (2), Richard Lewis (Dunvant)
Drop Goal (1), Gareth John (Tonna RFC)
Tries (1), Llion Trefor (Bethesda RFC)
Penalty (1), Mathew Parry (Llangefni RFC)
The North Wales company GreenThumb, the biggest lawn treatment service in the UK, has become Gogledd Cymru's latest partner Twenty years ago it was a single handed business, run from the back of a Ford Sierra. Gogledd Cymru aims to emulate this success on the rugby field and takes succor from the achievements of GreenThumb.
The company incorporates the very latest advancements in lawn care technology from around the world. Growing at the rate of one lawn per minute, it currently services 300,000 lawns every ten weeks and has become a major franchising business over 180 operations throughout the UK.
GreenThumb lawn care involves 4 treatments, at specific times throughout the year, tailored to the lawn’s exact requirements, to give maximum benefit from each treatment. The treatment costs less than DIY lawn care. With less and less free time these days, GreenThumb offers Gogledd Cymru rugby supporters an attractive green lawn so that they can spend less of their precious time buying and applying "weed and feed" and more time watching rugby.
A brave and enthusiastic Gogledd Cymru team, depleted through injury and led by experienced back row forward Richard (Tin-tin) Jones set out for London on Friday night for this 12.00pm fixture.
Gogledd Cymru opened the score with a try by Sean McDonagh, the first Colwyn Bay player to turn out for the team. This was quickly followed by an equaliser from the Welsh Guards to take the score to 5 all. The Gogledd pack, containing newcomer Tom James, performed well, with the Llangefni front row pairing of Andrew Baston and Rhodri Owen outstanding. It was Baston who score the Gog's second try. At this stage Gogledd Cymru were in control and it looked as if they would win this game comfortably.
By half time the Welsh Guards had equalised and with the score at 10 all, everything was set for an exiting second half.
Light footed Rhodri Carlton Jones, playing at 10 for the first time, made a number of searing breaks and apart from final passes not going to hand Gogledd Cymru would have scored 2 or 3 more tries.
In the end it was the Guards who took the lead and with 10 minutes to go it looked as if they would win the game. Then, Sean MacDonagh took advantage of a Guards' knock on to hack the ball through. In the chase Macdonagh had the pace and composure to score.
Carlton-Joned added the conversion to take the score to 17-15. A Gogledd Cymru victory seemed certain when in the last of the game, the ball shot out sideways from a scrum infront of the posts. The Guardsmen's scrum half pounced on it and the easy conversion made the final score 22-17. It was a bitter blow for the Gogledd Cymru but with clear improvements in both decision making and skill, the development process continues.
There was a buzz of excitment at Wrexham's Bryn Estyn Road when Gogledd Cymru took on a strong Worcester Academy side. The cheers were audible to Tesco shoppers when Mathew Parry and Adam Robson opened up the defence to put Jon Meldrum in under the posts for 7 points after the visitors had taken an early lead. These proved to be Gogledd Cymru's only points in the game. The final score was 71-7 but this game was never about winning. No-one would have expected our fledgling amateur regional side to have beaten a professional outfit under the stewardship of Mike Ruddock and Clive Griffiths. The purpose of the game was to publicise the regional side, to benchmark the standard of rugby in North Wales, to raise aspirations for young players of the future and to put into practice some of the individual, unit and tactical skills practiced in training. The game achieved these goals and also the respect of the Worcester team.
The Menai Strait, one of the fastest tidal flows in Britain provides renewable supplies of water rich in the microscopic plants or phytoplankton on which mussels feed. It is here that the award winning Bangor company, Myti Mussels produces over 8000 tonnes of mussels annually.
Aquaculture, or farming of aquatic animals is the fastest growing sector of food production in the world and Myti Mussels is one of the UK leaders in shellfish production. Cultivation of mussels, in North Wales, dates back to the 1950s but was in decline by 1982, when Myti Mussels started production. Over the past 25 years, this successful company has gained a reputation for innovation, productivity and ecological sustainability. Myti mussels works closely with scientists at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Science and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to develop culture techniques which help maintain the natural environment and bird populations in the Strait.