Crymych duo selects a strong squad

Cennydd James Robin Davies

We were delighted to ask two great club stalwarts to choose their combined ‘Select XV’ for Crymych RFC because both Robin Davies and Cennydd James are not only great characters but have an in-depth knowledge of what has made The Preseli Men tick over the past two decades

Both were fully aware of the challenge since it would inevitably include leaving out some players who would have been choices for others in the club – but once I pointed out that happens up to international level they were happy, safe in the knowledge that others would supply their own choices because there have been so many fine players in Crymych!

So here are Robin’s and Cennydd’s selections and short reasons why they are included!


A great front row, including an opera singer and an inspirational Welsh prop

Trystan Griffiths John Davies“Andrew Fletcher was our choice at loose head prop for his work in the tight alongside the fact that he was also very mobile in the loose, like a frustrated centre who had good hands but the shape of a prop. A bonus was the fact that in an emergency he could play anywhere in the pack.

“Trystan Griffiths was a very good hooker for us in terms of his play in the tight but also in loose play, where he was a dynamic ball carrier, like a rampant bull. Sadly, his career as an opera singer took him away from us and he now plays for Clwb Rygbi Cymru Caerdydd in our capital city!

“John Davies was the only choice on the other side of the front row at Parc Lloyd Thomas after so many years with Wales, Neath and The Scarlets where he became a legend – but still able to return to his home club and give us five years of wonderful service before calling it a day. In that time, he inspired our young players and helped us climb two divisions to where we are now.

Other front rowers who came close to selection were props Jason Nicholls, an excellent scrummager and someone who never takes a backward step. Rhys Richards, whose worth to the club can be gauged by the fact that he has played over 250 matches for Crymych, plus the highly promising Steff Harries. Both Aled Harries, a “warhorse” of a forward & Carwyn “Thinker” Rees have added greatly to the no 2 shirt.

Long-serving second rows who were great club men

Rhys Davies “We have also been lucky to have strong second rows and one still heavily involved is Rhys ‘Beaky’ Davies, who has been captain for a number of years and will play anywhere in the back five of the pack to help out. Although not the tallest at the club, he is deceptively good in the lineout, gets about the field, and can be relied upon to punch above his weight with his 100% approach.

“For us his partner would be Andrew ‘Topper’ Phillips, a much underestimated second rower who did a great job in the lineouts but also won good ball on the ground. He was quiet on & off the pitch but a good reader of the game, an intelligent forward with good hands.

According to Robin, a must is Cennydd ‘Cenco’ James (co-selector) who played over 250 games in the back five and was always involved, always busy, with a trademark dummy like a fly half – he is also, as I know to my cost, a born mimic of others’ voices!

Gruff Howells was also outstanding until a hip injury cut short a promising rugby career.

‘Togo’, Tom and Simon - a great back row which would have complemented each other

Andrew Togo Phillips“Our number six would have to be Andrew ‘Togo’ Phillips, a Wales youth cap, who has been one of the best forwards to come through the club as a very athletic lineout man who loved getting about the field. He was a big tackler in defence and strong carrier in attack and could have played at a higher level when Bridgend came calling.

“Tom Powell was a cracking open side flanker and skipper who led by example, as his speed and strength allowed him to be totally involved himself whilst motivating others. He has since played really well for Narberth and it would be nice at some point to welcome him back to finish with us.”

“Simon James started out with Fishguard and is back there now and giving total commitment, as he did with us. He was a top ball carrier who could turn poor possession into ‘go-forward’ ball and led us to our undefeated season in 2010/2011, as the players gave him their total support for his play in defence and attack.

Other back rowers mentioned by Messrs Davies and James were Richard Sharp-Williams, who was always missed when not available, Andrew Morris, known to all as ‘Blaen Bil’ and a driving force after joining us from Narberth in his 30s, along with Paul Jenkins from Whitland – another terrific flanker and leader.


The Davies boys would be an ideal choice at half back


Gareth Davies “We decided that Rhys Davies fitted the bill at No 9 because of his terrific skills and ability to kick long-range goals. He was always heavily involved around the base of the scrum, a good passer of the ball and was a very good link between forwards and backs. Known for having something of a short fuse but good enough to also play for Llanelli in the premiership.

“We picked Gareth Davies to wear the number 10 jersey because he is a very good reader of the game and could spot a half-gap and set others free. Gareth has always had time on the ball. As a great servant, he has played over 20 years for the club, and is pound for pound one of the toughest men of Crymych RFC!!”

Robin and Cennydd also told us that Huw Rees was a very good scrum half who went on to play for Whitland, Bargoed and Pontypridd – whilst Sam Phillips was developing into a more than useful outside half until a hip injury stopped him playing.

Terrific pace and power wide out . . .

“We wanted pace, power and the ability to score tries and so on that basis opted for Gavin Thomas and Nic Bevan. Gavin Thomas, who was converted from the back row, became a top-class player and try scorer, and did so well on the wing he moved to play for Carmarthen Quins and Llandovery. We would pair him with Nic, who has played for a decade now and is a strong and pacy runner with good footwork; and he is also quite elusive close to the line.

Tomi Jones is another talented player who was converted from flanker, using his strength and speed to maximum effect during many years in the Crymych backline at wing and centre, after playing for Whitland and Narberth. 

. . . and an outstanding trio in the centre and full back!


Elgan VittleCarwyn Jones “Our choice of centres settled on Elgan Vittle and Carwyn Phillips, with Elgan as a former club captain who started out with us. He had a really good spell at Narberth before returning to see his time out back in Crymych, doing a good job as back’ coach after giving us some cracking seasons despite a pair of dodgy knees. He was strong in defence but also with an eye for the gap in attack, with a good pair of hands and the ability to create space for others.

“Carwyn Phillips is an excellent attacker, using his strong running ability to hit lovely angles to put others into space, and a better defender than he is sometimes given credit for with the ability to lead the line and take out attackers with huge hits.

“Another centre we thought highly of was Matthew Hill, a dependable midfielder who was very strong in defence but could also read a game well and knew when a break was on. A former club captain and coach who certainly led by example.

Emyr Williams was undoubtedly a wonderful talent, having gained a Wales U18 cap, but persistent injury meant we never saw him at his very best.

“And finally, at full back, we plumped for Carwyn Jones, whose mark as a good player was that he always seemed to have time, even under pressure, and even when it seemed that he had been caught out of position he somehow got back to take high balls and clear them. He was a quick, silky runner who eventually spent some time with Whitland before returning to his roots and doing some top-drawer coaching.

Top coaches and a great club man as team manager


Glyndwr Richards Lyn Williams “We had little hesitation in naming the late Glyndwr Richards and Lyn Williams as our coaches because both served the club so well and led them to many successes.

“Glyndwr was hugely respected by all the players and was an inspirational character and Lyn would be the perfect side-kick as another ‘rugby man’ that brought success.

“It would also be nice to bring Robin in as the ‘third man’ in this set-up,” Cennydd told us separately, “because although he did the job well at Crymych and Whitland he would have been the ‘Missing Link’ here!


Adrian Howells “Adrian Howells was first choice as team manager because he has done the job for the majority of that time and been a terrific worker. He has done so much to make the coaches’ lives easier, right down to acting as unofficial press officer, first aider and even getting the kit washed!”


Others who moved away after starting with The Preseli Men:

Other talented players, who have moved on to bigger things, named by the two Crymych stalwarts included Joe Powell, who was a pacy forward and great ball carrier now with Llandovery, Alex Humfrey, an abrasive, dynamic flanker before moving off to Bath Academy, Ospreys’ hooker Ifan Phillips, the son of former Welsh captain Kevin Phillips, Scarlets flanker Josh McLeod and big prop Scott Jenkins before joining The Scarlets and Llandovery. Rhodri Davies, a lightning sharp No 9, unlike his dad Robin, always made a difference when he played, but left for UWIC, Llandovery, and Dragons and is now playing in the English Championship with the Cornish Pirates.