Alex leads The Otters by example

Alex Jenkins with a strong hand off Alex Jenkins When Alex Jenkins led out Narberth RFC for their pre-Christmas local derby with Newcastle Emlyn he ran out alone and received an even warmer welcome than usual because the match marked his 250th game for The Otters.


It was not only proof of his remarkable fitness and durability in his decade of involvement in the tough second row but also loyalty because in the time since he made a winning 29-28  debut in the 2007/08 season against  Merthyr (away) as a naive 20 year old he has rarely missed a match.

Alex played in 14 of the 22 games that season at the start of an amazing run of consistency and as well as winning the 'Most Promising Player' that campaign he also played in his first Pembrokeshire KO Cup Final where Narberth beat local rivals Whitland 22-18 at Crickmarren, Pembroke.

Special highlight

There was another special highlight a season later where his play caught the eye of the selectors for the Welsh Amateur team and he was selected to play in Germany against their national team - and Wales won 27-14.

"The whole occasion, including the flight, hotel and especially the match was brilliant, admitted Alex, and to pull on the Welsh jersey was fantastic and walking out on the pitch to sing 'Hen Wlad fy Nhadau' is something I will never forget. I will always treasure my Welsh cap because it was a brilliant trip.”

Good starts with Tenby, Pembrokeshire, The Scarlets and Otters!

200th Cap for Narberth RFCAlex started out his rugby career as a junior at Tenby United and after playing throughout their ranks he was captain of the youth team before slotting straight into the first team and playing one year there before deciding to try his luck at a higher level with The Otters.

The Otters also had a good year as they did well in the league and beat old rivals Whitland by 14-10 in the Pembrokeshire Knock Out Cup in a tough tussle at Parc Lloyd Thomas, Crymych.

"I had also represented the county from under 15s to under 18s levels," Alex told us, "and played for The Scarlets under 18s in winning the inter-regional cup final by beating The Ospreys at The Millennium Stadium, with current team mates Tom Slater and Steve Martin joined by other local players in Josh Turnbull and Jonathan Davies, who have gone on to play at a higher level.

"We also took on the Ospreys in the under 20s final but just missed out there."

In the intervening years there have been offers to join clubs in the Welsh Premiership which he has steadfastly turned down and stayed at the Lewis Lloyd Ground, where he is a firm favourite with all involved, and this is his third season as captain. He has also won 'Player of the Season' awards but with typical modesty says that in such a strong squad almost anyone could have been recognised!

Early showing of leadership skills

He first showed his ability to lead a team at the start of the 2013/14 campaign when Steve Martin was out injured for eight weeks and showed his ability to captain from the front, although he readily admits that he is quite happy to let someone else do the pre-match talking if they want to!

By then Alex had completed his first hundred games for The Otters and started out on a remarkable run of consistency which saw him start in all 26 league matches in the No 5 shirt as he played alongside his old Tenby pal Chris 'Cone' James.

He maintained this impressive 100% record in 2014/15 and rounded off the season in style as he helped Narberth beat Haverfordwest 31-0 in a one-sided final at Bierspool, Pembroke Dock.

Confirmation of captaincy

Alex Jenkins on the chargeAlex started his spell as captain in 2016/17 and again completed 22 starts in as many matches so that by then he had played in 144 games from 148 possible over six seasons and he duly reached the coveted 200-games mark as he led the team out against Newcastle Emlyn at Ddol Wiber on the 17th June 2016.

"It was a memorable day because we won 23-13 and I received the special Narberth RFC cap which marks that number of matches played," said Alex.

In his two seasons at the helm Narberth have finished second both times in the Welsh Championship Division, and so far this campaign Alex and Co have played really well and could come runners-up again to Pontypool.

"We are very proud of that feat," he told us, "because in that time we have also competed against wealthier clubs like Merthyr, RGC 14014, Bargoed,  Bedwas and others who have significant backing from big companies whilst we rely on the whole in a hard-working committee and smaller business in our area.

And finally . . .

This season has seen the Otters keep up their impressive performances and just before Christmas, Alex reached the 250-game tally, again against Newcastle Emlyn, and again with a win where he ran out from the changing rooms on his own and played a pivotal role in a win that keeps his side firmly in the thick of things.

There was a pre-match speech made by Sean Gale and Alex received a bottle of whisky and there were flowers for his partner Leila in recognition of his feat and her support.

It is typical of Alex that he was quick to praise others, starting with Sean Gale, the Director of Rugby, fitness guru Jonathan Dodd and backs coach Deiniol Jones, alongside old pal Chris James as team manager and Rob ‘Basher’ Lewis..

"They do a brilliant job," said Alex, "and we have a terrific squad, great committee and amazing supporters - I couldn't be at a better club."

The person he doesn't mention however, is the club captain but we can put out a clarion call to announce that Narberth RFC have a fantastic skipper and if he can maintain his fitness levels and steer clear of injury he is surely set fair to become the first player at the club to reach the magic 300 total of games played for The Otters!


 **We readily acknowledge the terrific help in writing this tribute of Ken Mathias, the Narberth RFC historian and master statistician. THANKS KEN! **

Alex Jenkins takes lineout ball