Around the Touchline - Ben Childs


Ben Childs – an inspiration from Tenby United

Ben ChildsAsk rugby players from a while back to list the quality players from their era and it is a fair bet that someone who would appear on the vast majority of them would be Ben Childs, who played for Tenby United from the time of seven and was a key player in their successes in the newly-formed Heineken Leagues after playing at the highest levels of club rugby in Wales with Neath, Swansea and Llanelli.
I was lucky enough to watch Ben play at No 10 for The Seasiders at a great time when the Heineken Leagues had just started and from the time they beat Pontypool United 25-3 in their first match at Heywood Lane there was such interest in, and enthusiasm for,  the new pyramid system in our game.
He was always so modest off the field but a born play-maker on it – and I am proud to say how much I still enjoy bumping into him today and he would still rank well into the top ten players I enjoy a chat with about those days whenever we bump into each other!
Ben also played three times for Welsh Youth under top coach Ron Waldron and is rightly proud of the cap awarded for games against Welsh Colleges (which they won) and then France and England, both of which they lost.
He played rugby for Greenhill School, where he was coached by Huw Thomas, and a Tenby United Youth team that was coached by Lyn Rees and Tony Brace, both real characters but able to teach skills that he could use later.
Ron Waldron was a Neath man through and through and he must have been impressed by Ben, who had a call from the Welsh All Blacks to join them.
“They were a great club,” said Ben, “and we played twice a week so at the end of the season I had racked up 40 games and scored my share of points - but I left on a point of principle and a broken fibula sustained for Pembrokeshire against Carmarthenshire at Whitland saw me return for a short while for The Seasiders.
“But then Swansea supremo Mike James, whose roots were in Neyland, asked me if I would have a game for the All Whites - and I made my debut in a local derby, at Llanelli, of all places!
“It was a game full of incident, which we won, but there was an unhappy moment for me when I tackled Peter Morgan, a Pembrokeshire ‘great’, and he broke his leg - and afterwards I was asked to play for The Scarlets and I finished out the season at Stradey Park.
“At that time, I had enough of all the travel for training and matches in what was still an amateur game and with the Heineken Leagues starting up as the new Welsh pyramid system I decided it was the right time to rejoin my home-town club.
“It was certainly the right time for The Seasiders because they gained successive promotions, were watched by large, enthusiastic crowds of supporters and there was great excitement at Heywood Lane and across the town
“We had excellent coaches in Glyn Davies and Gethin Evans and had a strong squad where the Evans brothers Chris, Mike and Carl were immense because, like me, they had a winning mentality which permeated through the squad.
“I was also proud to play for Pembrokeshire about 30 times under coach Trevor James and we won the Counties Cup by beating Breconshire at Builth Wells - and I when I stopped playing at 30 I continued playing golf - and still enjoy my rounds at Tenby Golf Club.
“But I will never forget my time in rugby and would recommend it to anyone just starting out in the game because you don’t know where it will lead – and you’ll never regret being involved at local clubs!”