Borderers' legends select a powerful squad!

Brian Harries

Tony BowenOver the past two decades Whitland RFC has traditionally been one the front runners in local rugby circles and that continues today so when we contacted Rob Benjamin, who has been Hon Secretary, unofficial press officer and match announcer for much of that time we knew that his advice would be sound.

Known to all as ‘Benji’ he said “Leave it to me,” and in typically organised fashion he appointed two of the best-known former players to choose a ‘Select XV’ which shows a very thorough approach where it was clear that a great deal of  thought had gone into the selections.

Tony Bowen was not only a Whitland wing or centre who scored heaps of tries but he was also a proud Pembroke County and Llanelli player – and also the club’s representative on the county’s management committee. Even today, at 78 years young, he is still heavily involved, especially in the ground maintenance at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn and as the first team’s kit man.

Brian Harries played at outside half for Whitland and was known as an attacking player who was always looking to make breaks and set his backs in motion. His skills also earned him county selection and today he is as ardent a Borderers’ supporter as anyone could be!

Strong and mobile front row

Marc Jones“Gareth Williams came from Dunvant, near Swansea, and built up a reputation as a prop who could scrummage way beyond what we would expect from someone his size. He stayed with us for six seasons and was also a useful support player in the loose as a bonus.

“Our hooker would have to be Marc Jones, who is still going strong today after stints with Carmarthen Quins and Narberth, and he was an outstanding captain last season with his ability to motivate others. He is very mobile with a good pair of hands that help when he gets up to support others – and reads patterns of play well.

“Romeo Colella would complete our choice of front row, a pocket-battleship of a player who was loved by our crowd after he joined us from Fishguard. As a genuine character he relished every physical confrontation, never once taking a backward step, as he once showed against Welsh international Mark Jones when we played Pontypool in a Welsh Cup game!

“Our replacements would be Dai Jones, a gentle giant of a prop from Felinfoel who was hard man on the field and an expert scrummager who also had good skill levels besides – and Steve Gerrard, who originally came from Rhydyfelin, near Pontypridd, and came to us via Narberth. ‘Jed’ was highly competitive and gave us great service in our front row.”

Romeo Colella on the charge for  Whitland


Overseas second rows who have been great club men too!


Raff Williams “Raff Williams is a typically hard, no-nonsense New Zealand second row who is a tough, committed player who only knows one way to play – and that is with total commitment. He is a very good lineout man, strong scrummager and good catcher at kick offs but he offers so much more in terms of mobility and featuring in handling moves. He’s hugely respected by all the players and one of the most popular club members as a bonus!

“Our other second row would also be an overseas player in Fakatah Molatika, a very athletic Fijian who was a superb lineout man but also was as quick to the ball as most flankers. He could also read a game well, with a good pair of hands in support play – and was a lovely man whose popularity within the club was fully deserved.

“Another second row player worthy of a mention has to be our old war-horse Dai Ebsworth, still going strong when most others of his age had long since stopped. Still a good trainer and ever-ready to serve the Whitland cause, he is an example to young players about devotion to duty.


Blessed with quality back-rowers

Randall WilliamsPhil Morgan“At Whitland we have been blessed with back-row players of high quality, and we are confident that the trio of Randall Williams, Phil ‘Stretch’ Morgan and Derek Thomas would be hard to better.

“Randall joined us from Fishguard and made an immediate impact with his ability to read play and get to breakdowns to win key ball or block possession for opponents, who hated his involvement. As a farmer he was naturally very strong, tackled well and was an excellent captain for at least three seasons.

“Phil Morgan was another born captain because he could read play really well and raise morale as others followed him because he was 100% committed and never took a backward step. He was exceptionally quick to the ball, handled well and worked so well in tandem with Randall that clean possession was rarely a problem.  He is still involved as co-coach with Dom Setaro of our youth side and he would be our captain of this team.

“Derek Thomas completes this exceptionally able trio after previously playing for Neath and adding some exceptional skills to our team of the time. He was very strong, a terrific ball winner, very quick for a big man and with the ability to join in long-range moves with his quick hands.”

“Someone else who made a great impact was another Fijian in Jonny Kaloi, who was extremely fit, fast about the field and with good handling skills that saw him also play in the centre when needed. He was totally committed, ready to give or take a knock in the club’s interests. Always smiling, he was understandably loved by supporters for his attitude, on and off the field.


Star half backs – and useful replacements too!



“At fly half who found a real talent when Daniel Griffiths joined us from the Swansea area and played really well for us before he moved on to Newport. He had the eye for a gap, no matter how small, and was good at putting others into space with his handling skills. His kicking for position was excellent and he scored points galore with his ability to find the posts.

“Partnering him at scrum half we would have Rob Phillips, a local boy and older brother of Welsh regular Michael, and someone who had the same no-nonsense approach in dealing with challenges from opponents. He was very alert around the fringes, especially from tapped penalties or scrum fives, and took some stopping from close range.

“As replacements we could have Andrew Jenkins at No 9 who was understudy to Rob Phillips for a while but when he left Jenks’ play blossomed and he was a key member of the team. He played like an extra flanker and was highly competitive in keeping opposing back rows concentrating on him.

“Nico Setaro also deserves a mention as the current fly half because he has a good pair of hands and likes to put others into space – and is no mug with his place kicking or tactical kicks to put his side on the attack.”


Pace and power – and counter-attacking at No 15!

“On the wings we have a mixture of power and pace, with a full back that was solid in defence but always posed an attacking threat with the ball in his hands.

“Steve Hartland joined us from Tenby and as a powerful runner who loved nothing better than running at opposing wingers he was deceptively quick when put into space, even from distance. On his day he was a genuine match winner as his adept grubber kicks were very much another weapon in his armoury.

“On the other wing we have gone for Craig Thomas, who came from Felinfoel and had pace to burn. Put him into space and he was away – scoring lots of long-range tries in the process.

“At full back Barry Thomas was a Bancyfelin boy who was solid in defence, with a clean pair of hands under the high ball but who could switch play into attack with his elusive running that could cause mayhem, even from his own try line as he made breaks and was good at finding support runners. “


A strong centre partnership

Domenico Setaro“In the centre we chose Domenico Setaro, who was Whitland through and through from his youth days, where he was a Welsh international and helped us win the Welsh Youth Cup. He was very fast and allusive and sometimes his team mates didn’t know where he was going but it often put opponents on the back foot. It is good to report that he now puts his vast experience into coaching our youth team, along with ‘Stretch’!

“Joining him we would have Paul Morgan, who made an impact in midfield as a very enthusiastic and positive player. He was short and stocky and was good at busting through the gain line and transferring to support players.

Just missing out was Franco Setaro, who also played in the Welsh Youth Cup Final win. He was the steadying influence in midfield and we missed him when he joined Tenby for a while because he had all the skills needed on a rugby pitch”.


Dai Ebsworth, Nico Setaro and Gareth  Bennett


Good choices galore so a very difficult challenge to name our two coaches!


Richard Stag JonesFranco Setaro“Choosing our coaches was one of the hardest things because we have had so many strong candidates over the 20 years but we picked Chris Skone and Richard ‘Stag’ Jones. Chris was a great analyst with the ability to get his message through to the players and the same could be said of ‘Stag’ after he joined us from Narberth. Both had immense respect from everyone at the club and they would be a good pairing. The current coaching trio of Gareth Bennett, Dai Ebsworth and Nico Setaro are also doing a good job.


Kristian Richards“As team manager we thought Franco Setaro did a good job because he knew all the things that had to be done and did them well – and if he was unavailable then Kristian Richards was another team manager for a few years who worked really hard in the job and also doubled up as our unofficial press officer.”