Home » Former WRU boss welcomes Warren Gatland back to his home village rugby club for 10th anniversary
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Former WRU boss welcomes Warren Gatland back to his home village rugby club for 10th anniversary

ROGER LEWIS, the former Chief Executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, welcomed Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland back to his home village rugby club, Cefn Cribwr, last Friday 24 May to help celebrate a milestone at the club.

Lewis who appointed Gatland in 2007 first brought the head coach to his village during initial contract discussions over 17 years ago to meet his mother. Gatland has since returned to Cefn Cribwr RFC on a number of occasions with Lewis, including opening the new Cefn Cribwr RFC club house in 2014.

Friday night celebrated 10 years of the new clubhouse, and Warren Gatland took part in a question and answer session with Roger Lewis, who has been President of Cefn Cribwr RFC since 2006, the village in which he was raised and attended the local school. 

The evening was very lively and entertaining, with Gatland sharing with the sold out and packed club house numerous anecdotes from his rich and varied rugby career. 

In what was a hilarious opening exchange between the two guests, Lewis asked Gatland “why the heck had you come back?” Gatland answered with passion about his love of the Welsh rugby public and nights such as this at Cefn Cribwr and adding how motivating and knowledgeable the Welsh rugby public are, emphasising his belief in the importance of the game in Wales saying that he “had no regrets on returning to Wales”.

Lewis and Gatland worked together for over eight years from 2007 until 2015, when Wales won three six nations championships, two Grand Slams and were semi-finalists in the Rugby World Cup in 2011. When asked by Lewis which Welsh players he had he enjoyed coaching the most, Gatland without hesitation cited Shane Williams, “pound for pound the best”, Mike Philips for his “infectious self-belief” and Sam Warburton for his “incredible work ethic”. Gatland then spontaneously went on to praise the current Welsh forward, Bridgend born, Dafydd Jenkins, saying that Dafydd has the “potential to be one of the truly great Welsh players of the next decade” and described in detail the skills of the Exeter Chiefs player. 

Lewis asked him what his most memorable win with Wales was and immediately Warren recalled the victory against England in 2008, vividly recounting the game in detail. Gatland, in characteristic self-deprecation, described himself as a “lacky b***r” after the match.  Lewis pushed Gatland on what was his most disappointing loss, to which he replied, “the Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-final against France”, adding that if felt that he we won that game, the final would have been something very memorable indeed.

On a more serious note, Gatland expressed his deep and heartfelt concerns regarding the impact social media was having upon young players in Wales, adding that he and his team were taking several measures to support Wales’s young squad. Regarding rugby in Wales, Warren once more voiced his support and encouragement for the investment in Welsh schools’ rugby explain why it had been so critical to the development of rugby in his home country, New Zealand. 

Lewis asked about the future and Gatland looked positively towards the upcoming test match against South Africa in Twickenham, the tour to Australia and the three Autumn tests again featuring South Africa and Australia and also Fiji. Gatland reminded Lewis of their early mantra, “if you want to be the best, you have to play the best… regularly”. Lewis probed Gatland on his thoughts regarding the 2027 Rugby World Cup and once more the response was very positive and upbeat with Gatland outlining the great potential of the young players he is working with. 

The evening went on into the late hours, with numerous and witty exchanges from the floor. Cefn Cribwr RFC has raised over £110,000 for local charities and the club is in good shape with over 140 children playing rugby, with active girls rugby, new changing rooms, a second pitch developed, also with flood-lights, and new drainage laid on both pitches. For a village of only 1400 people, Cefn is a beacon for Welsh community rugby. 

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Steve Powell, Cefn Cribwr RFC Chairman said, “We were delighted that Warren and Roger were able to join us to help celebrate our anniversary. The Q&A session was candid, and Warren’s passion for the game, developing players and drive for success is clearly second to none”.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the event. Mike Kelly said: 

“the friendship and mutual respect between Gatland and Roger shone through with Roger asking some difficult questions about past campaigns, the current position and most importantly the future of the National team. The audience were treated to a honest in-depth review by Warren and most importantly what Warren aims and objectives are going forward. A fantastic evening for the rugby connoisseur.” 

Richard Howells added: “When questions came from the floor Warren came over as a very honest man and explaining his thoughts and views. It was a very refreshing and fabulous evening. Richards Howells

Craig Warlow Cefn Cribwr Coaching Team summed up the evening: “A fitting tribute to a great facility.”

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