Around the Touchline - Tom Powell

Narberth Rugby Club Statistician KEN MATHIAS paid tribute to another Otters stalwart who has reached the century of appearances in league rugby - and we are delighted to belatedly reproduce his excellent article as we learn -


TOM POWELL - 100 League games and counting!

Tom Powell leads Narberth by exampleRecently, Narberth RFC produced a fine performance at Ammanford RFC to win 42-22 and so maintain their unbeaten playing record to date. But the game was also significant for the fact that Tom Powell, the Narberth RFC flanker and captain was playing his 100th league game for the Club, and so certainly that fact deserves to be mentioned and acknowledged on as he came off the subs’ bench to mark the occasion by scoring one of the six tries scored by The Otters on the day.

A real family affair with rugby

It was apparent from an early age that Tom and his brothers Joe and Scott would take up rugby, especially as their father, Rowland, at that time was a fine back-row forward with Pembroke Dock Harlequins and Pembrokeshire County.

So, it was no surprise when the youngsters made their way through The Quins’ Junior, Youth and First teams sides, and all three have progressed, with Joe for several seasons now a member of Llandovery RFC as a second row, Scott a long-serving captain at Pembroke and, of course, Tom a fine back row forward with Narberth RFC.

Successful time with Crymych

Following on from their time at Pembroke Dock Quins, both older brothers played for Crymych RFC and it was on permit from that Club that Tom made his league debut for Narberth RFC at the end of the 2009-10 season, when he made up the back-row alongside Steff Phillips and Gareth Bateman in the 27-15 home win against Cwmllynfell.
Tom is always quick to state the importance that his time at Crymych RFC had on his rugby career and how the experience gained there enabled him to later successfully step up to a higher level with Narberth RFC. His time at Crymych was a very successful one; from where he represented the Scarlets Under 18 side on several occasions and won two Pembrokeshire Senior Cup Finals, one against Aberystwyth at Aberaeron and during the 2015-16 season he captained the side which beat Tenby 36 - 17 in the Cup Final played at Haverfordwest. Also in that that team against Tenby was his brother Joe, who played just that one season for the Club on dual registration from Llandovery RFC.

Tom, whilst at Crymych RFC was also part of two sides that gained promotion and one of those culminated in an exceptional season in 2010-11 which saw the club crowned champions of Division Three (West) having won all of their twenty-two league games and won the league with an impressive 100 points amassed and seventeen points clear of runners-up Mumbles RFC. Tom, although he played on another four occasions for Narberth, remained with Crymych until the end of the 2016-17 season before signing for Narberth RFC, who were by then a Championship side.

Tom Powell fronts the Narberth programme


Immediate impact as he joined The Otters

So, it was a step up for Tom from Division One West to the higher level, but he soon showed that he had the talent to do so and played in all but one of the twenty-two league games, scoring nine tries; his first for the Club coming in the opening game of the season in the 35-19 win over Newbridge. The fact that he played in so many games was a testament to his ability as Narberth had several excellent options in the back-row at that time in the likes of Richie Rees, Sean Jenkins, Pat Roberts, Steff Phillips and Dewi Williams, who were all available for selection. Narberth had a fine season, finishing as runners-up to Pontypool RFC, a season in which Tom won two Man-of-the-Match awards and they came in the two home games against Beddau and Skewen, and was also named the "Players’ Player of the Season".

Tom carried this fine form into the following 2018-19 season when again he missed only one of the twenty-two league games, in which he scored three tries and also won three ‘Man of the Match’ awards against Newbridge, Beddau and Maesteg Quins. But possibly his finest game that season came in the 41-0 win at home to Rhydyfelin in which he scored two tries and his overall play was of the highest order.

The 2019-20 campaign and the following season and a half were restricted by the Covid epidemic, with only sixteen league games played over those seasons, but Tom continued to produce consistent form and managed to score four tries in those games.

Tom in the thick of things

Experience as skipper begins – and he overcomes injury to lead by example

At the start of the 2021-22 season, Tom was elected as Narberth RFC's vice-captain to flanker Richie Rees and during that season a new Championship Cup tournament was introduced and in one of the rounds, away to Glamorgan Wanderers RFC, Tom had the honour of captaining the side for the first of four occasions that season. The game ended 24-all, with Tom scoring one of Narberth's two tries on the day.

At the start of the 2022-23 season, Tom was elected first-team captain and if anything, that responsibility has made him an even better player, but unfortunately in the third league game into the season, away to Bedwas, he sustained a serious injury when he damaged ankle ligaments and this injury would keep him sidelined for six weeks. However, on his return he played in all the games producing several outstanding performances such as in the 16-3 victory home to Ystrad Rhondda RFC and the 22-40 win at Beddau RFC.

Tom plays a key role in this season’s brilliant performances

And so to the current season, which again sees Tom at the helm of a Narberth RFC squad that has been very successful over the whole of their first 14 games of the season, remaining unbeaten with some scintillating rugby which has also seen them reach the semi-final of the WRU Championship Cup rounds to date where The Otters have again been producing some excellent performances.
Tom has featured in all the games this season and has certainly led by example with some exceptional performances which saw him named as ‘Man of the Match’ in the 13-22 victory in the league away at Bonymaen and the 24 -10 win in the Cup game home to Rumney both very difficult games but Tom has set a high standard in his own performances which others have followed.

Tom with one of his Man of the Match awardsA real club man – who still has plenty more to offer in the coming seasons

Narberth RFC are very fortunate in that they have several outstanding back row forwards and, although in the majority of games played, the back row has been made up of Tom, Josh Hamer and Roy Osborn, one must not forget the contribution of players like Richie Rees, who when called upon, maintains the high work rate of the back-row unit and who has played in every league game to date.

Tom, over the seasons has played the majority of his rugby for Narberth RFC in the back row but he has also on numerous occasions played in the second row to assist the team through injuries or unavailability of the regular players in that position and he has been very effective when called upon as this talented player always gives his all.

So we extend our congratulations to Tom on reaching this milestone in his rugby career and, hopefully this player, who has already contributed so much to the success of Narberth RFC, will remain playing for the Club for many seasons to come.

Tom wins this line out for The Otters