South East Wales

Appeal after youths seen before Maesteg rugby club fire

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Media captionClub officials say the season will go ahead as planned

Police investigating a deliberate fire at Maesteg Rugby Club want to speak to two teenagers seen just before the blaze broke out.

Two youths, aged between 13 and 14, were riding bikes and seen climbing over a gate into the ground.

Det Insp David Rees of Bridgend CID said: "We need to identify these youths as they may hold vital information about what happened."

A stand may need to be pulled down and the clubhouse was also damaged.

Maesteg is one of Wales' oldest rugby clubs and the blaze came after a recent refurbishment.

Detectives say the two youths were seen climbing over the gate near the Tesco overflow car park into the ground at about 16:30 BST on Tuesday, half an hour before the fire broke out.

One was wearing a green hooded top and the other was wearing a dark grey hooded top and black jogging bottoms.

There was a further group of up to 15 youths, aged around 14 years, inside the ground at this time.

Chairman David Morgan said the fire had destroyed memorabilia and ruined electrics in the clubhouse while the stand's steelwork was damaged.

But he insisted the team's season would go ahead as planned.

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Media captionChairman David Morgan describes the damage to BBC Radio Wales' Oliver Hides

Fire crews spent three hours tackling the flames which engulfed the first floor bar in the clubhouse and a stand.

Det Insp Rees added: "Maesteg Rugby Club is at the heart of the community and the considerable damage caused by this fire will be felt by many people.

"Judging by the reaction of the community this is a real tragedy for the town and I am appealing to anyone with information to come forward."

"Maesteg Rugby Club is an important part of the local community and the considerable damage to the club will be felt by many people."

Mr Morgan said he had managed to enter the clubhouse after fire crews had left and said he was greeted by "considerable damage".

He said the members' lounge was devastated on the first floor and there was water and smoke damage throughout the rest of the club.

The cellar was also damaged, along with some of the club memorabilia in the sponsors' lounge.

Image caption Inside the damaged clubhouse the fire destroyed club memorabilia

He added that he feared the stand may need to be pulled down because of damage to the steelwork.

But he said: "The playing side will go ahead. We will find a way of completing our fixtures and starting the season on time.

"The trading is our biggest concern. Finance from the bar is essential to pay rates and bills. It's going to be a major problem for us."

He added that other clubs in the area, including Maesteg Harlequins RFC and Maesteg Celtic RFC had offered to help with training facilities.

Ospreys Rugby said it would offer support in any way it could to a "proud club".

A spokesman said: "To lose their club house in this fashion is a devastating blow that will impact heavily not only on the rugby club and those actively involved, but on the wider community who utilise the facilities."

South Wales Police appealed for anyone with information to contact 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting occurrence 62130253574.

Image caption Witnesses said flames were 'pouring out of the building'

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