Shane Williams and Colin Charvis were the star attractions last Wednesday night when Llandovery RFC hosted Worthington Wednesday at their Church Bank clubhouse, writes Huw S Thomas.
In an event sponsored and hosted by Coors, who took over the Worthington brand in 2002 and compered by well-known broadcaster Phil Steele, the two former Welsh internationals regaled an audience of some 120 people with various reminiscences from their outstanding careers.
Williams gained 87 caps for Wales and four for the British and Irish Lions in a glittering career in which he became the record try scorer for Wales and in 2008, Williams was selected as World Rugby’s Player of the Year.
He talked of his frustration of being seen as too small for international rugby before bursting on to the scene with an outstanding running, sidestepping appearance for Wales against New Zealand and then England in the 2003 Rugby World Cup out in Australia
There were memories of his time at Neath under Lyn Jones, then the Ospreys, his clashes with Bryan Habana and his hot and cold relationship with former Wales coach Steve Hansen.
He spoke of his determination and perpetual commitment to show that skill and not size should carry the day and recognised his debt to a game that made life so full for him and his family.
His comments and views informed and delighted guests who had travelled from all parts of South and West Wales but there was equally warm appreciation of former Wales captain Colin Charvis.
Charvis scored 22 tries for his country in 94 appearances - a record for a forward - captained Wales at the 2003 World Cup and was also a British and Irish Lion.
Of Jamaican origin, and immensely proud of being the first black man to captain Wales at rugby union, Charvis’s self depreciation and laid back remarks entertained an appreciative audience even if he did cause a good natured uproar when naming England’s Jonny Wilkinson the best player he had ever played for or against.
He was ready to take a dig at the bad and ill-informed journalism that had once coined him “the second most hated person in Wales” after being caught smiling on camera on the occasion of a Wales defeat in Italy but his light touch and easy manner proved hugely popular.
Perhaps the most intriguing comments of the night from both celebrities were on the psychological impact of the South African use of the “bomb squad” and how the innovation was revolutionising the way teams look tactically at the final quarter of a game.
Asked finally who might win the final of the Rugby World Cup, both Williams and Charvis opted for New Zealand,
Their prediction was based largely on the view that the All Blacks would arrive in the final fresher than the Springboks who had been involved in two brutally demanding games at the quarter and semi-final stages against France and England respectively.
The final was to prove a closely fought battle but South Africa’s win went only to prove that fine players do not necessarily make fine tipsters
With Phil Steele – in scintillating form with his humorous rugby stories – bringing it all together in his usual seemless style and the raffle raising hundreds of pounds for Air Ambulance Wales, the night was a resounding success.
Coors were thanked by club Chairman Peter Rees for staging a great rugby get-together at a packed Church Bank, the hopeful forerunner of many more such events.
Thanks too were expressed for the organisation of the night by club administrator Gina Deering and the excellent curry served up to a thirsty crowd by club caterer Lisa Evans.