Tom has taken his chances to do well with rugby analysis and coaching

Tom Meredith at Pembrokeshire U15s game this seasonTom Meredith has been involved in rugby in our county, and much further afield, initially as a player but more recently in his off-field activities to Canada and Romania, where his expertise and analytical skills have enabled him to help out their national teams.
These exciting, and challenging, experiences came after Tom had achieved a first class BSc honours degree at the University of South Wales, in Treforest, where he specialised in analysis as part of his Rugby Coaching and Performance course.
During that three-year course he also studied a wide range of modules like Strength & Conditioning, Nutrition, Tactical Awareness, General Fitness and PE, in preparation for possible entry into the teaching profession at some stage.

A new challenge takes Tom to Canada . . .

But he decided to opt for analysis as an area of specialist interest and started to gain experience and further practical skills with the staff at nearby Pontypridd RFC.

 “It was a real eye-opener for me,” admitted Tom, “ and the first-team coaching staff, players and other officials were a terrific help so that I learned a great deal in a short time.
"I really enjoyed this practical application of the work and at the end of my first year was chosen by the university staff to nominate me in answer to a request from the Canadian Under 20 team competing in the World Trophy before they went off to compete in Brazil.
“Before I knew it I was off to Vancouver to work closely with the squad and coaches, staying in the same college campus as them.
“My role with them was to monitor the players and produce all sorts of stats for their use in improving performances and when I eventually came home I retained a link with Gethin Watts, who is now coaching at Bristol Bears, and carried on my work with him and the Canadian team, via Zoom and other IT links.

Tom intent on his work with the Canada U20s

. . . And then to Romania

“I also continued working closely with Pontypridd at the start of my second year but out of the blue there came another request, this time from the Romanian national side for the ‘Rugby Europe’ competition – and I was off again to spend ten weeks with their first team which was coached by ex-England and Bath flanker Andy Robinson, who was the forwards’ coach when England won the World Cup.
“He was brilliant to work with and there was so much information to look at and interpret, not only on the obvious stuff like scrums, linesout, successful and missed tackles, possession used well and badly, plus so much more info taken from the GPS systems worn by the players – and I really enjoyed it!
“After a while back in the UK  I was invited to go out again but by then I was deep into the preparations for writing my thesis and decided if I wanted to get a first-class degree I should concentrate on that – and although I was sad not to go it worked because I was awarded my first-class degree.
“When I finished in university I wanted to do something a little different for a short while and so for a couple of months over the summer holidays I worked cutting grass for the council and I really enjoyed being part of a new team there with a smashing bunch of fellers.

With the Romanian coaches for their game against Georgia

New challenges in new jobs

Then Tom started work at Ysgol Bro Gwaun after Chris Shousha, who had done a good job there as rugby hub officer, found work at the Pembrokeshire college.

“I work at the school for two days a week and now also spend the other three days at the college, where I work alongside Aled Waters in support of the rugby programme there as well as coaching the girls’ rugby programme, which I really enjoy because they are so keen to develop their skills.”
Outside of his work involvement with rugby, is also involved in coaching of the college rugby team who play at under 18 level against some very well-known other teams from the likes of Colegl Sir Gar and Coleg y Cymoedd, where the standard is very high.
He is also assistant coach to Aled Waters for the Pembrokeshire Under 15 team that has been competing in the Dewar Shield, which is competed for by every region in Wales and is a great experience for developing players at that age.

Tom playing for Fishguard Youth (back row - 4th left)

Tom tells us of his young playing days

All this now seems a long time since Tom set out on his own playing days in rugby as a nine-year old with the Fishguard & Goodwick junior section that was coached by Nigel Roach, Chris Evans and Chris Bean, playing prop there until under the under 13 age group.
“Then Jonathan ‘JJ’ Jones took over as coach and he raised my awareness of the game in general – and he converted me to second or back row since I had grown taller and lost some of my puppy fat.
Tom showing how to give a good pass in his playing days“My parents, Janice and Anthony, used to take me everywhere to play, even though dad was a football fanatic with Goodwick United he was always keen on me playing rugby and enjoyed following the sport.
“We reached the county final at under 14 but came up against a very good Crymych side which ruled our age group roost and I also played for the county under 15s in the Dewar Shield before going on to play for a useful Fishguard & Goodwick Youth team which included Robbie Jones, Lewis Davies, Rhys Evans and Will Delaney as very good players.

And finally . . .

“At this time I went to study a BTEC Sports Coaching course at Pembrokeshire College and played for the first team there at Pembrokeshire College and after two distinction stars and a distinction in my three modules was encouraged by Kevin Hopkins and Adrian Batemen to follow the subject up at university, which I did at Treforest!”
So now Tom is putting that degree to good use at school, college and with the county juniors and we wish him every success because he is a young man who reflects all that is good in local rugby and up and coming youngsters are in good hands with him involved!