Star of the Month – February 2020

Bill Carne and Rhydian Rees


Rhydian leads county short mat bowling team to real success

There was a marvellous moment for the Pembrokeshire Short Mat Bowls team last October when they were the Welsh representatives in the annual international against the best teams from Northern Ireland and England – and became the first-ever Welsh team to scoop the silverware by beating Mid Tyrone (Ireland) and West Midlands (England) at the superb facilities at Heatherton Theme Park in St Florence.

In a titanic tussle our county won from the final wood delivered by Sion Hughes’ rink and the man charged with the honour of receiving the coveted trophy was Rhydian Rees, who plays his short mat bowls for Tavernspite.

Rhydian is a very astute competitor and this month we are delighted to present him with our ‘Star of the Month’ award in recognition of his involvement in short mat bowls alongside other sports like cricket, rugby and football.

Great series of matches at Heatherton

Pembrokeshire had already been chosen as the host county for the second time at Heatherton, where Charles Davies and his family provide a really warm welcome, and became the host team after taking on the other county teams at Llandrindod Wells under the leadership of Andrew Evans, to earn the right to represent Wales.

They took on Mid Tyrone and West Midlands over two days of intense competition where a series of singles, pairs and triples were followed by a round of rink games, which culminated in that vital final wood decided everything in Pembrokeshire’s favour.

Rhydian played in a successful triple alongside Mark Taylor and Jamie Styles – and when he wasn’t playing spent his time encouraging other members of the squad in their personal battles.

Other sports

Outside of his short mat bowls, Rhydian is a more than useful batsman with Cresselly Cricket Club and played football and rugby for Pembrokeshire in his younger days

On the cricket front, Rhydian set out as an all-rounder with Carew up to under 15 level and then moved a mile up the road to play with Cresselly, where he is still involved today as a powerful stroke player who has played in the second team on six occasions in the Alec Colley Cup Finals.

“I was honoured with the captaincy one season where we won the Alec Colley at Pembroke after coming from behind to beat Haverfordwest 2nds,” Rhydian told us, “and I I scored 60+ in the second innings so as well as picking up the trophy I was also chosen as Man of the Match.”

That was a cracking innings of some maturity but he has scored more on other occasions, including a century at Pembroke Dock and a top score of 115 not out at Llangwm.

Another highlight undoubtedly came in his mid-teens where he played for the Dyfed Schools on a three-week tour to the Southern Hemisphere, with the first fortnight in Australia and then the final week in New Zealand.

“There were some talented young crickets on that tour,” said Rhydian “including Neilson Cole, Dai Davies, Will Beresford, Mark Harris and John Jones – and as well as some great cricket we saw the new Millennium dawn in Melbourne, Australia.”

Rhydian also played youth rugby for Tenby United as a No 8 or in the front row, as well as the Pembrokeshire Youth team which included Gareth Edwards, Tom Lewis, Will Crockford, Harry Bolton, Rob and Chris James.

It was a similar story in football, where Rhydian played football in his early teens and again represented his county – as a centre back.

Family matters

He followed in the footsteps of his father Lyn, who is still the second highest points scorer in the Seasiders’ history and who was made a life member for his contribution to the club on and off the field.

His mother Jayne was also the first lady member of the Tenby United committee and Rhydian would say that his wife Amie has been a great support to him as well as providing him with lovely children in Owain and Elin.

Set out almost by accident

But all that seems a long time ago because for the past decade, apart from cricket, he has been a keen short mat bowler after being dragged along to St Elidyr, in West Williamson by some family friends and taking to it straight away.

"I really enjoyed being involved there in the village hall and after a couple of seasons I found myself chosen for the county squad - and since then I've regularly played in the Welsh Counties' championships at Llandrindod Wells, where we've done really well.

Highlights galore

"For most of that time I've played for Tavernspite alongside the likes of brothers Andrew and Alun Evans, who are team mates with me in the Pembrokeshire squad, and it is great that my parents Sheila and Tom are also involved.

"We have won the local league twice in the last three years and been runners up for the other year so it's been a good time for me in short mat bowls.”

Rhydian has also won a Welsh title in the recent Rinks Competition in Llandrindod Wells, joining team mates Chris John, Jamie Styles and Mikey John in an 8-7 win over a team from Carmarthenshire in a tight final where the scores were tied with one end to go.

"But the real highlight was our success in the Three Nations when it was held for the second time at Heatherton Park - and we became the winners in a nerve-wracking finale; the first time a Welsh county has won the silverware after beating West Midlands and Mid Tyrone.

"I had spent every minute of the two days when I wasn't playing in my triples' team encouraging everyone else to do their best and by the time Sean and Co won the celebrations were very loud indeed!"

And finally!

Rhydian had also represented Wales in internationals against England and Ireland for three years on the trot at Bromsgrove, Belfast and Carmarthen but had to step down this season because of Elin’s pending arrival.

“It was well worth it,” Rhydian told us with his typical chuckle, “and it was great that my little family was there to cheer us on.”

It was indeed a memorable family occasion at Heatherton and he will continue to grace local sport with the Rees family name – and we are really delighted to present Rhydian with our ‘Star of the Month’ award, albeit a little later than planned because of his work commitments  as a teacher at Johnston CP School, for February 2020!