The Wales 2012 RBS 6 Nations squad has been pictured as they have never collectively been seen before – each wearing the club kit which they wore at the start of their rugby careers.
Head Coach Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad took time out from their busy training schedule this week to pay homage to the 13 Principality Premiership clubs (at times of appearances) that helped to get the players where they are today.
Every member of the squad, which has just returned from a pre-tournament training camp in Poland, has featured in Wales’ top club rugby competition for at least one club and each of the players were asked to nominate the side they felt most synonymous with.
In instances where players had featured for more than one club and they felt equal allegiances, the club was chosen for them, but, to-a-man, each player relished the opportunity to show a little piece of their personal heritage for the historic photo.
Llanelli RFC can boast to having made the greatest contribution to the current squad, they could almost field an entire backline of internationals, with a grand total of 10 players, including four uncapped, representing one of the WRU’s original member clubs – their players are: Mike Phillips, Stephen Jones, Jonathan Davies, Scott Williams, Rhys Priestland, Lee Byrne, and the uncapped Liam Williams, Rhodri Jones, Aaron Shingler and Lou Reed.
The next highest representation is from Wales’ capital club, Cardiff, with five internationals, plus the uncapped wing Harry Robinson.
Neath have provided five players in the current squad and Aberavon, Bridgend, Glamorgan Wanderers, Pontypridd and Swansea have all sent two players each from grass roots to international stardom – with the Wanderers providing squad captain Sam Warburton.
Single, but vital contributions, come from Cross Keys (Toby Faletau), Ebbw Vale (Dan Lydiate), Llandovery (George North) and Newport (Andy Powell).
“Welsh rugby must never forget its roots,” said WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis.
“Our premiership clubs are the foundation stones upon which the international game is built. This picture is a wonderful way of expressing how important the Principality Premiership is to Welsh rugby.
“The fact every member of the current squad has worked their way up through the pathway structure we have in place to develop players is something we should all be proud of.
“All the boys are extremely proud of their rugby heritage and they were very enthusiastic about taking part in this photograph.”
Graeme Yorston, Chief Operating Officer of Principality Building Society, sponsors of the Premiership commented: ‘Principality believes that the Premiership is pivotal in the Welsh rugby triangle and this photograph demonstrates just how valuable the league is in developing young talent from the village playing field to the national game. We are extremely proud of the contribution we have made in supporting the success of the 6 Nations Squad.’
WALES’ 37-MAN RBS 6 NATIONS SQUAD PLAYERS ARE PICTURED REPRESENTING THE FOLLOWING CLUBS:
ABERAVON: Justin TIPURIC, Ashley BECK
BRIDGEND: Ryan BEVINGTON, Ryan JONES, Rhys WEBB
CARDIFF: Alex CUTHBERT, Bradley DAVIES, Rhys GILL, Leigh HALFPENNY, Jamie ROBERTS, Harry ROBINSON
CARMARTHEN QUINS: Ken OWENS
CROSS KEYS: Toby FALETAU
EBBW VALE: Dan LYDIATE
GLAMORGAN WANDERERS: Sam WARBURTON, Lloyd WILLIAMS
LLANDOVERY: George NORTH
LLANELLI: Lee BYRNE, Jonathan DAVIES, Rhodri JONES, Stephen JONES, Mike PHILLIPS, Rhys PRIESTLAND, Lou REED, Aaron SHINGLER, Liam WILLIAMS, Scott WILLIAMS
NEATH: Ian EVANS, James HOOK, Paul JAMES, Adam JONES, Craig MITCHELL
NEWPORT: Andy POWELL
PONTYPRIDD: Gethin JENKINS, Matthew REES
SWANSEA: Huw BENNETT, Gavin HENSON