Around the Touchline Feature - Ian Thomas


Ian Thomas - a great Saints’ servant off the field
after playing for a long time!

Ian Thomas in his cricket kit at haverfordwestWhen St Clears RFC deservedly take their place for the 2024/25 campaign of the WWRU Leagues set-up, no-one could be prouder than Ian Thomas, their hard-working Hon Secretary, who has been involved with The Saints since 1988, following the club's inception in 1985.

In those days The Saints began as a junior union club which had teams in Section A and Section B of the Pembroke County Junior Union, league, which had Jeff Harry as a very influential representative on the Welsh Junior Union scene.

Started at Laugharne – but soon became ‘A Saint’

“I had started out as a flanker with Laugharne RFC, which was my nearest club in those days,” Ian told us, “and when St Clears started out I had played two years there but then joined the newly-formed St Clears’ youth team when I was in my final year - and really enjoyed my involvement there.”

“Then I went into senior rugby and started with the second XV before finding a place in the first team a couple of years later - and in one season we actually won both A and B sections and found ourselves taking each other on in the play-off, which the A team won, but I was on the losing side,” admitted Ian with a typical chuckle!

Ian gets the ball away for St Clears


Rapid development as a club

“We were eventually granted full status by the WRU in the mid 1990's and started out in the old Division Seven (West) against local Pembrokeshire clubs like St Davids, Llangwm, Pembroke Dock Quins and Neyland, alongside clubs further east like Burry Port and Pontardawe.”

“Then the leagues were reformed and we found ourselves in division 5 (West), followed by division three (West) when they were revamped again and it was good because we mostly played against Pembrokeshire clubs.

“I eventually finished playing in 2010, aged 40, although I found myself hauled out of retirement a few times after that when they were short because they knew I couldn’t say ‘No’!’

It is in black and white - Ian in lineout action


Very hard workers at the club

But if Ian thought his involvement was over, he soon found himself mistaken and two years later he was installed as secretary - and he’s kept very busy more than a decade later because the role has grown out of all recognition.

“I was lucky to have great club men like the outgoing Hon. Secretary Phil Jones, the late John Lewis, Dorman Davies, Viv Rees, Jeff Davies and Eirian Page to name but a few - and where we might have the odd e-mail in a week, now I have to check my in-box every day because there is so much correspondence from the WRU - but I have great support from an excellent committee.”

“My role as Hon. Secretary also involves various other administrative duties, including arranging monthly meetings, the administration of international tickets, submission of grant applications, bill payments, pitch maintenance including marking the pitch on match days. I also serve behind the bar when required.

Family Matters . . .

Ian leading by exampleIan would also say that he has been very lucky to also have total support from the ladies in his life in wife Sonia and daughter Ellie, whilst son Che started out in rugby at Whitland juniors and then for Carmarthen Quins’ Youth before playing senior rugby with St Clears.

He then studied at Cardiff University and played rugby for St Peters RFC in the Championship (East) Division – and is still in the capital city now!

Che also played cricket for Whitland and also for Pembrokeshire County.

Great ground improvements – and youth policy too!

St Clears still play at Parc Griffiths Jones, which they have on a very long lease from the local council - but now have their own  clubhouse and bar, excellent changing rooms, plus lots of work improving the pitch and drainage, where they also have training lights installed now.

“My close friend Gwyndaf Williams (currently club Chairman) set up our junior section back in 2008 and it is now paying dividends because we have teams in almost all the age groups, with qualified coaches and great parental support.”

Ian (second left) winning an Ocky White award for his cricket performances


And finally . . .

“At senior level we are well coached by Rhodri Jones, Mike Jones and Dafydd Evans and last season we made giant leaps by gaining promotion behind Lampeter, who beat us twice in the league so we had no complaints.

“For this season our aim was to consolidate in the second division but with total commitment from our relatively young squad, most of whom have come through our junior section, we have exceeded all our expectations by winning the section, including us doing the double over old rivals Lampeter.

“We had hoped to be playing Whitland in division one (west) but sadly they were relegated - but we are going to be joined by our old friends from Tenby United so that’s a bonus!”

Ian also played cricket for St Clears in the summer months and in one good season as a batsman actually won the Ocky White award for his top batting score throughout the campaign in his division – but laughingly describes it as ‘a bit of a fluke’!

But it is rugby that has always been his greatest sporting love and we at can only finish by saying that St Clears are lucky to have a man of his calibre in such an important role – and we look forward to more chats around the touchline with him in future years when we need to know anything about The Saints’ matches!