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.
Go well big man 🙌🏻🔴⚫️🧙♂️🔥👊🏻 pic.twitter.com/o9GKZHcweH
— Aberavon RFC (@AberavonRFC) July 7, 2021
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.
Dan Biggar – Swansea/Gorseinon
Biggar will be crucial in the Lions bid to play attacking rugby, with an aim for ball retention around the kicking game.
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.
We’ve also seen some top clashes between future British & Lions players in the Premiership past.
Josh Navidi – Bridgend Athletic/Glamorgan Wanderers
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.
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.
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.
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.
Still think it’s mad that Wyn Jones and Tadhg Beirne were playing for Llandovery RFC only 5 years ago and now they’re set to face the Springboks as British & Irish Lions. Cracking story #LionsRugby pic.twitter.com/KnUxw5NLwD
— Jamie Phillips (@JNPhillips4) July 22, 2021
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.
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.
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.
Growing up, he spent a lot of time with fellow Welsh international Scott Williams.
“Main photo credit”