Neyland fathers and sons so involved with the All Blacks

Mathew Williams and FamilyWhen Neyland RFC fought back well to beat Llanybydder in a recent Division Three (West) A match there were three fathers and their five sons significantly involved in what must have been some sort of All Blacks' record.

Because such was the length of their injury list that Neyland had coaches Graham Richards and Steve Evans alongside club legends Mathew Williams and Chris Busby on the replacements bench for a combined age total of almost 200 years!

Three fathers – five sons!

Not only that, the first three old-timers shared five sons on the field playing influential roles and Mathew Williams joined sons George and Ben on the field for the last 15 minutes and played a stormer.

It was the second time this season that The All Blacks had achieved this unusual feat because when they played Tregaron much earlier in the season Steve Evans came on as replacement and completed an Evans' back row as he joined sons Iestyn and Owain in also helping them to victory, showing the club’s youngsters what a good player he had been.

So team manager Peter 'Jack' Davies tells us that perhaps the pressure is now  on for Graham Richards to complete an amazing treble by showing his considerable skills to share a  short time on the pitch as outside half alongside son Jack, who is doing a great job at scrum half!

Arrived early – and drafted into action

Mathew Williams has several times before told '' that he usually turns up to matches a few minutes after the start so that he isn't called in to action because at 48 and a little over his old playing weight - but on this occasion he was early and was met at The Athletic Ground with a plea to help out.

His natural reaction was that he had no kit but a pair of boots was quickly found and he was in the 19 named in the squad, alongside sons Ben (22), who plays at No 8, and George (almost 21 and one of the youngest skippers of Neyland from his centre berth).

When he came on it was to replace a prop and although Mathew had played at No 8 or scrum half in a period spanning two decades it wasn't going to be a third position for him.

"I might be daft to even turn out because my welding work near Norwich means I never train, but I'm not that daft," he told us with a chuckle, "so lock Mark 'Russell' James bravely moved up and I took his place in the second row!"

Steve Evans and FamilyBig impact and high praise indeed

The All Blacks were still down to 14 men when he joined the fray and had just conceded a try but he announced his arrival from the resulting kick off as he put in a big hit on the opposing ball catcher that evoked memories of his playing days for club and county.

From then on every tackle he made was cheered and as Steve Evans told us,

"His ball carrying and retention took me back to his heyday and I can safely say that Mathew is the best player we ever had in my time with Neyland, and there have been some great players."

Family matters – and another compliment

Also watching in admiration was Mathew's third son Karter, who is already following in the family traditions where uncle Andrew 'Bob' Williams was also a mighty player, and the six year old already has the basic handling and passing skills as he loves watching Neyland matches and has played a bit of tag rugby already.

We asked Mathew when he had last played and it was almost five years ago.

"I helped out in Pembroke when Steve Evans was coach before and I played the whole match - but found it hard to walk for a while afterwards. It wasn't quite so bad this time, other than a bit of a groin tweak!"

Graham RichardsPeter Davies, who also served Neyland well in the front row after moving from Swansea, told us,

"Mathew didn't let us down and there is no doubt his experience helped late on. He is a club legend and joins Mike Griffiths as the two best players I have known to wear the All Black shirt of Neyland RFC!"

Steve shows he can still keep up!

Steve Evans can also lay claim to being a one-team player over more than 20 years and was not only a terrific player in the centre but one of the most successful ever of the club coaches.

Now almost 50, 'Evs' officially retired six years ago but still played every season after that when the club was short, other than 2017/18.

Jack RichardsWhen The All Blacks were low on numbers in the early part of this season he came on at Tregaron when Ben Williams had to go off and slotted into the back row alongside Iestyn and Owain.

"I think I did OK," said Steve, "and there was one great action pic where I was first to a break down before Owain, which didn't please him too much as he said it was just the camera angle!"

That was 32 years since he had made his first-team debut as an 18 year old against Pembroke;  playing against Rodney Cadogan.

"Rod was one of the most physically strong players around and so I was pleased when he bought me a pint afterwards. As well as the likes of Mathew and Bob Williams, we had players like Robert Codd, Matthew Doncaster, Mark Smith and Roy Hadley involved in one of the useful teams of my time."

Chris BusbySuperb coaching with juniors and All Blacks first XV

Evs turned to coaching youngsters during his playing time and he did terrific work as the club's under 13s, 14s and 16s reached the county finals. He was also involved when Neyland won the county youth league and cup final, and completed a special treble by winning the West Wales Youth Cup at Llanelli.

"One of my proudest moments has to be when I coached the Neyland first team to promotion in the National League set-up and we scored over 1,000 points in that season"

But Steve is also proud of the fact that there is another Evans' family member involved at The Athletic Ground this campaign because his daughter Cerys (15) loves the game and does a great job as the team's 'water girl', as well as being a very good player in her own right in the oval ball game and hockey.

"She is as committed as any of us in our set up," he said,” and sums up Neyland's family approach to our club."


Chat to Mathew or Steve and it is easy to see that they are Neyland RFC through and through - and with Graham, Peter and Chris form a quintet who have a combined total of well over 100 years of playing for The All Blacks - and can only say - Long may this bunch continue to be influential at The Athletic Ground!