“Being Louis Rees-Zammit” is a BBC One Wales documentary, edited and directed by Huw Crowley, with Steffan Morgan executive producing. A previous BBC One Wales documentary, “Slammed” is reviewed here. This writer was prepared for a cringe-fest, and although there are some cringe moments, Rees-Zammit comes across relatively unscathed.
This is typical. We just can't help ourselves 🏴. Media massively to blame. Biggar enabling/cheering him on too…🤦♂️Hopefully, the doping stuff was libel as that would add to this b/s. If Owens was in the squad, would he be impressed? What about Lydiate? 1/2 #RWC2023 https://t.co/eVVkjFO1Kc
— Thomas Booth (@tboothy) August 29, 2023
He’s family-orientated, and willing to do the hard-yards in the competitive environment that is professional rugby in order to progress. This article looks at what can be gleaned from, “Being Louis Rees-Zammit”?
First of all, why as a Welsh fan would you approach this with trepidation? Principally, it could add to the hype-train around Rees-Zammit being the next big thing. This puts yet more pressure on his shoulders. His team mate though, Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar (who appears in the documentary) says that Louis thrives on and embraces the pressure and expectation that comes with being the golden-boy of Welsh rugby. Rees-Zammit also appears to concur. He states that he lives for the big game atmosphere. Biggar tells the audience that the winger is “un-Welsh” in terms of his confidence. He explains that Rees-Zammit bucks the Welsh trend of keeping your head down and being humble, and that he’s comfortable with putting himself out there whether it’s in front of the camera, or on social media. “Is being selfish a negative?” Biggar asks.
In defence of Wales’ prodigy, Rees-Zammit is clear that he didn’t think the professional contract, Welsh caps and Lions tours would happen for him as quickly as they did. Another strong theme in the documentary is that of family closeness and support. Many times family are referred to and Rees-Zammit’s father, brother and mother play a significant part in “Being Louis Rees-Zammit”. His agent, Liz Williams is also on-screen during a segment around her client’s sponsorship deals with Adidas and BMW. She says that Wales isn’t blessed with commerciality within rugby union and that Rees-Zammit is different in this respect.
“Being Louis Rees Zammit”
The Rees-Zammit’s strike me as an unpretentious family living in a comfortable but not too ostentatious home. The wunderkind of the family now has a £125,000 whip courtesy of BMW. The family appeared to enjoy a laugh and a joke together during both the good, and the bad times. This bodes well for them in the future.
The Mum seems fiercely protective of her son which is normal, especially so, when you think about how dangerous rugby is, and how short a rugby-career can be. She is interested in the new social-media followers she has gained on the back of her son’s success. Are they trying to get to her son?, she muses. I did begin to feel sorry for any would-be Mrs Rees-Zammit’s on the horizon. Would they pass the Mum’s steely gaze! In the documentary Rees-Zammit gifts his Mum with a red Yves Saint Laurent bag after receiving a professional contract. While this was a touching family moment which showed care and love, the sceptical part of me wondered whether it was an ode to capitalism too?
The overall narrative arc of “Being Louis Rees-Zammit” seems to follow a fairly well-trodden path of peaks and troughs (nothing wrong with that). Rees-Zammit makes a splash initially in European rugby, struggles after a bright start, with injury and form (classic “too much too soon” then followed closely by “tall poppy syndrome”), he then recovers and now has a chance at full redemption/global superstardom being offered at this year’s World Cup in France.
Notes of Caution
There’s still a couple of notes of caution with the rugby World Cup looming. Where is the footage of him destroying Southern Hemisphere teams? It’s not quite there but this is a fledgling career remember. He was part of a very competitive Wales tour to South Africa in 2022. He emerged from that series as the top try scorer. The question remains – Will he be a flat track bully, or is he genuinely world class?
This reviewer is more of an elderly curmudgeon, than a millennial, but some of the Instagram/tattoos content is not interesting to me. The current generation do seem to have a lot in common around these interests. That can be a good thing, but I do worry about “characters” within the game. Of course times have changed and we are living in a professional rugby era. Rugby prospects need to be focussed, dedicated and hard-working. With reference to “character”, I’m not talking about macho, inappropriate banter either. This writer is just wondering if there is a place for diversity of thought, experience and politics within rugby.
Rees-Zammit says towards the end of “Being Louis Rees-Zammit” that he wants, “more than rugby.” This was a bit puzzling for me. Was he talking about: fame, riches, a career post-retirement? It’s not wrong to focus on a life beyond rugby, but if he wants to be a hall of famer (like Bryan Habana, who also was interviewed for the programme), then keep focussed on the short-term/next match please. All the best for a top tournament and career Louis!
“Main photo credit”