Aberavon groundsman and semi-pro prop Rowan Jenkins got the opportunity of a lifetime when he got a call up to face the reigning European champions and the newly-crowned World Rugby player of the year. It’s a truly unique story that should appeal to all fans.
Cardiff were without numerous players because of quarantine and various other issues, meaning the club had to make some emergency calls for their match against Toulouse at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.
One of those emergency calls went out to semi-pro prop Rowan Jenkins, who normally plies his trade for Aberavon RFC in the Welsh Premier Division. When he’s not playing rugby for them, he is working on the grounds.
He opened up on what the amazing opportunity meant for him.
“One week I was down at the Drovers in the wind and rain playing Llandovery, the next I was at Cardiff Arms Park in front of a big crowd facing Toulouse, the European champions,” he said.
“I consider myself fortunate that Cardiff asked me to play. I had a spell there last Christmas and I guess it put me on their contact list… I’m just grateful to the likes of Gruff Rhys and his fellow coach TRT for calling me in.
“I can’t thank the senior Cardiff players enough as well… The message was to go out there and enjoy ourselves and take each moment as it comes.
“As a semi-professional player, you don’t expect to find yourself on the same stage as the world player of the year. Dupont was amazing…”
— stefan andrews (@stefanandrews14) December 11, 2021
Aberavon coach Jason Hyatt was quick to praise Jenkins as well.
“Rowan won a penalty or two himself. Cardiff also had a scrum on the opposition line which was rock solid before Josh Adams went over under the posts.
“I’m proud of him and Geraint James, another boy who plays for Aberavon, he featured off the bench on Saturday. Everyone at the club feels the same way.”
— Lloyd Evans (@lloydevs7) December 11, 2021
It’s a moment Jenkins will cherish for the rest of his life. Here’s hoping it’s just the first of many more opportunities to come.
As for the match, the day belonged to Antoine Dupont. He left no doubt as to his newly-cemented player of the year status. His hands – and feet – were on almost every score in the 39-7 win.