PONTYPOOL United was a club on the brink 10 years ago, staring into the abyss with just one team and in real danger of vanishing completely from Welsh rugby.

But now, a decade later, they have thriving mini, junior, youth and senior sections and their first XV sit fifth in Division One East after promotion last season.

Another boost has been the signing of veteran Tongan Sione Tu’ipulotu, a teammate of head coach Nathan Daniel when the two played for neighbours Pontypool.

According to Daniel, the club’s renaissance is down to a group of dedicated individuals who came to its rescue at a very testing time.

Explaining what happened and how things stand now, he said: “Ten years ago the club was struggling just to exist but a couple of individuals kept it from bankruptcy.

“Without Mark Jones (chairman), Adrian Waters (president), Alan Williams (secretary), Jeff Jones (committee) and Nina Tibbs (treasurer) the club wouldn’t be here.

“We’ve gone from one team 10 years ago to a thriving mini and junior section and a great youth and senior set-up, which now includes a women’s team.

“We’ve also forged great links with Pontypool RFC and my relationship with Leighton Jones (Pooler head coach) is a healthy one.

“Players have gone from us to them and Leighton is good at helping with players if we need any on permit.

“I think there were a few issues between the clubs in the past but those bridges have been repaired and they really supported us when we got promotion last season.

“The link between the clubs is a massive thing for grassroots rugby in Torfaen.”

He added: “We are punching well above our weight in Division One East.

“We are fifth in the league having won five and lost three of our eight games this season.

“We were doing pretty well before Sione came but he has given us that added lift, and hopefully he can push us on further and attract a few more people to the club.

“He’s really looking forward to putting something back into Pontypool.

“I didn’t think we would sign him but we have and he is with us for the rest of the season.

“It’s a really exciting signing and a huge boost for the club. We go back quite a long way but I never thought he would end up putting his boots on and joining us.”

Daniel, 36, finished playing in 2008 after sustaining a bad knee injury.

He coached Garndiffaith prior to United and has rediscovered his passion for the game in recent years.