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Your Club Your Lions: Crawshay’s Welsh

Your Club Your Lions: Crawshay’s Welsh

For a Welsh rugby player, there are three major milestones to tick off in a career: Represent your country, earn selection for The British & Irish Lions – and be invited to play for Crawshay’s Welsh.

“Crawshay’s is renowned for its approach. We hardly ever kick the ball"

For a Welsh rugby player, there are three major milestones to tick off in a career: Represent your country, earn selection for The British & Irish Lions – and be invited to play for Crawshay’s Welsh.

The invitational touring side has a long and illustrious history since its formation in 1922, with no less than 88 Lions pulling on its famous shirt.

The names roll off the tongue: JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Steve Fenwick, Shane Williams, Delme Thomas and Adam Jones are to name just a few.

Has a Lion played for your club?

The club plays six fixtures a year, with annual matches against Oxford University and Cambridge University a long-established tradition.

But it is also known for its legendary tours, with the likes of Thailand, Latvia and Poland all hosting Crawshay’s teams – as well as traditional rugby nations South Africa and France.

Team manager Ian Brice played for Crawshay’s Welsh in the  1970s,  and is proud of the way the club has stuck to its traditions – while the sport continues to evolve in the modern era.

“The rugby was always great but what stood out for me was the camaraderie side of it. That is what we have always been about,” he said.

“Crawshay’s is renowned for its approach. We hardly ever kick the ball, we run it from everywhere. And we have had players with the skills to do it.

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“The list of players who have played for Crawshay’s and the Lions is endless. But it has dipped off in more recent years as the game has become more professional.

“Whenever Crawshay’s used to go anywhere, we had four, five, six internationals in the side. The clubs and coaches saw the benefits in sending their best to play for an invitational side. Our status within the game was big.

“It was a privilege to play for the club.  I will not pretend that we were on the same level as the Barbarians, history tells you that.

“But as far as Welsh players go, to play for Crawshay’s was a big honour. I know when I played for the first time it was fantastic.”

Its list of former players may be mightily impressive, but Crawshay’s has always prided itself on helping to nurture young talent – both on and off the pitch.

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To get asked to play was an  honour,  and the experience of playing free running rugby invaluable. But Brice believes the biggest benefit was off the pitch.

“When I was a selector, I always looked for two things in a Crawshay’s player. The first is skill, and the second was  character ,” he said.

“When we play Oxford and Cambridge, I want to look at these youngsters who are available to us and see how they behave and handle themselves.

“The ethos of Crawshays is running rugby, enjoyment and fun. When we take these young players from the four professional clubs, I make sure I keep an eye on them and watch how they behave and handle themselves.

“You can spot a good player on the pitch, but if he has not got it off it as well then he will struggle to make it.”

Traditional invitational sides have become a rarity in recent years, with the game’s professional model making it tough for them to survive.

Crawshay’s Welsh no longer gets five established internationals on each tour, and must now settle for youngsters on the way up.

But this can still be beneficial – as former Wales captain and 2005 British & Irish Lion Ryan Jones found out.

“Ryan Jones came on tour with us in 2004 when he was not playing for anyone. It was at a time when the Celtic Warriors had disbanded and Ryan needed somewhere to play,” said Brice.

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“We were going to Slovenia and I spoke to Lyn Jones, who was coaching at the Ospreys, and asked if we could take Richard Hibbard on this tour to let him have experience and then report back to Lyn how Richard handled himself on and off the field.

“In those days, how you handled yourself off the field was as important. And he casually mentioned to me that he was looking for a ball-carrying forward.

“So we played our first game in Slovenia, Ryan played and later on that evening Lyn called to find out how Richard had got on, and I told him I found the perfect player to help him in the back row.

“So I put Ryan on the phone and not long after he signed a contract. And exactly a year later he was the star player in the Lions team in New Zealand.

“That is an example of what we could do for players. We believe there is a huge opportunity for Crawshays and we have a lot to offer.”
 
1904 – Tommy Vile
1910 – Reggie Plummer
1924 – Harold Davies
1924 – Rowe Harding
1930 – Jack Bassett
1930 – Ivor Jones
1930 – Dai Parker
1930 – Jack Morley
1938 – Bill Clement
1938 – Viv Jenkins
1938 – Haydn Tanner
1938 – Bunner Travers
1950 – Cliff Davies
1950 – Don Hayward
1950 – Ken Jones
1950, 1959 – Malcolm Thomas
1950 – Rex Willis
1955 – Trevor Lloyd
1955 – Haydn Morris
1955 – Clem Thomas
1955 – Alun Thomas
1955 – Billy Williams
1959 – Terry Davies
1959 – Roddy Evans
1959, 1962 – Haydn Morgan
1959 – Ray Prosser
1962 – Glyn Davidge
1962 – Kingsley Jones
1962 – Tony O’Connor
1962, 1966 – Alun Pask
1962 – Keith Rowlands
1966 ­– Allan Lewis
1966 – Terry Price
1966 – Gary Prothero
1966, 1968, 1971 – Delme Thomas
1966 – Dai Watkins
1966 – Stuart Watkins
1966 – Denzil Williams
1968 – John O’Shea
1968 – Billy Raybould
1968 – Maurice Richards
1971 – Geoff Evans
1971 – Chico Hopkins
1971 – Arthur Lewis
1971, 1974 – JPR Williams
1974, 1977 – Phil Bennett
1974 – Tommy David
1974, 1977 – Bobby Windsor
1977 – David Burcher
1977 – Terry Cobner
1977 – Gareth Evans
1977 – Charlie Faulkner
1977 – Steve Fenwick
1977 – Moss Keane
1977, 1980 – Allan Martin
1977, 1980, 1983 – Graham Price
1977, 1980 – Elgan Rees
1977, 1980, 1983 – Jeff Squire
1977 – Brynmor Williams
1977, 1980 – Clive Williams
1980 – Gareth Davies
1980 – Ray Gravell
1980, 1983 – Terry Holmes
1980 – Allan Phillips
1980 – David Richards
1980 – Gareth Williams
1983 – Rob Ackerman
1983- Eddie Butler
1983 – Gwyn Evans
1983, 1989 – Bob Norster
1986, 1989, 1993 – Robert Jones
1986 – Jeff Whitefoot
1989, 1993, 1997 –  Ieaun  Evans
1989 – Mike Griffiths
1989 – Mike Hall
1993, 1997, 2001 – Scott Gibbs
1997 – Allan Bateman
1997, 2001 – Rob Howley
1997 – Barry Williams
2001 – Colin Charvis
2001 – Darren Morris
2005 – Gareth Cooper
2005 ­– Ryan Jones
2005 – Josh Lewsey
2005 – Michael Owen
2005, 2009, 2013 – Shane Williams
2009, 2013 – Adam Jones
2009 – Andy Powell
2013 – Richard Hibbard
2013 – Dan Lydiate
2013 – Mike Phillips
 

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