Wales’ British & Irish Lions; Where they started (photos)

British & Irish Lions come from all corners of the UK, but you may be hard-pressed to recognise some of the players in the youth or community club days. Robert Rees looks back at the pre-professional days of the Welsh Lions.

Adam Beard – Birchgrove/Aberavon

The Welsh lock was a late call-up to the squad, and certainly impressed upon his arrival, but he’s come a long way since his Birchgrove and Aberavon days.

Beard in his Birchgrove days. Credit DaiSport.

Alun Wyn Jones – Bonymaen/Swansea

The totemic frontman of the Welsh outfit for over a decade, this Saturday will see Jones appear in his 10th British & Irish Lions Test, beaten by only four men.

Alun Wyn Jones in his Bonymaen days. Credit BBC Wales.

Dan Biggar – Swansea/Gorseinon

Dan Biggar (top), Alun Wyn Jones (bottom) both in their Swansea jerseys. Credit Swansea RFC

Biggar will be crucial in the Lions bid to play attacking rugby, with an aim for ball retention around the kicking game.

Dan Biggar (middle, 2nd right) with Gorseinon as they were crowned District F champions. Credit Lions Rugby

Taulupe Faletau – Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Newport, New Panteg

One of the greatest modern British & Irish Lions, Faletau has had an esteemed career playing in Gwent with four clubs before moving on to the Dragons.

Greg Woods presents Faletau with an award at Cross Keys. Credit, South Wales argus.

We’ve also seen some top clashes between future British & Lions players in the Premiership past.

Josh Navidi – Bridgend Athletic/Glamorgan Wanderers

Josh Navidi (left) hands off Taulupe Faletau (right) in a match between Glamorgan Wanderers and Cross Keys. Credit South Wales Argus

Josh Adams – Hendy/Llanelli

The Lions try-scoring ace has been left out of the first test following a slight sternum knock and emotional status. However, it’s not just in recent times that his potent threat for the try line has been recognised.

British & Irish Lions
Josh Adams (right) with his Welsh schoolboys cap. Credit WalesOnline.
Adams (2nd left), 2014 V Llandeilo away. Credit Hendy RFC

Liam Williams – Waunarlwydd/Llanelli

The former scaffolder at Port Talbot steelworks has made an insane name for himself since getting promoted from the ranks of Waunarlwydd and Llanelli.

Williams in both his Waun and Wales days! Credit WalesOnline.

Justin Tipuric – Aberavon/Trebanos

The flanker may be injured right now, but when fit he’s one of the world’s best opensides. The hard work was put in at the Talbot Athletic Ground and down at Trebanos.

A youthful Tipuric in his Aberavon days. Credit Aberavon RFC

Wyn Jones – Llandovery

From Llandovery in the Premiership, to starting a Test on the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour. A remarkable story at the best of times, but to do all of that within six years makes it even more awe-inspiring.

Ken Owens – Carmarthen Athletic

Before he was ‘The Sheriff’, Owens was a player at Carmarthen Athletic, a club he kept in contact with after his tenure at the top level of the game.

Ken Owens aged 12 at Carmarthen Athletics’ former ground Five Fields. Credit Carmarthen Athletic

Louis Rees-Zammit – Rumney/Llandaff

The Gloucester speedster has made a name for himself in the past 18 months by bursting onto the scene at Kingsholm, and following it up with some belting tries on the international stage. He was destined for glory at a young age and was voted into the Cardiff Schools Team of the Decade.

Rees-Zammit in his Cardiff Schools days. Credit Cardiff Schools.

Gareth Davies – Llanelli/Carmarthen Quins/Newcastle Emlyn

Davies is known as Newcastle Emlyn’s finest, where he started his career off before progressing to Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli.

Davies plays for Llanelli RFC, Credit WalesOnline.

Growing up, he spent a lot of time with fellow Welsh international Scott Williams.


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