Life at the Millennium Stadium could restart at 40 for former Wales prop John Davies, as he embarks on the start of the SWALEC Plate campaign with his home club Crymych.
Having tasted victory and defeat in cup finals at the Millennium Stadium, the SWALEC Plate offers the chance of an emotional return to the home of Welsh rugby with his West Wales village team facing Lampeter on December 14th.
Davies proved himself one of the most durable props in Welsh rugby’s modern era in a 34 cap career for Wales which included Neath, Richmond, Llanelli and the Scarlets, but after leaving a coaching role at Stradey Park he fulfilled a promise to end up back at Crymych where it all started.
He was in their first Youth team and as the club celebrate their 25th anniversary they would love to cap their incredible progress with a trip to the best stadium in world rugby.
Crymych entertain last year’s SWALEC Bowl finalists Lampeter after a bye in the first round of the Plate competition, with a change in the rules meaning teams compete at their level in order to win through to the showpiece finals day.
“It would be nice to get back to the Millennium Stadium,” admitted Crymych farmer Davies. “I have been lucky enough to play there three or four times in finals and semi-finals, but it would be fantastic for the club, the players and the local area that they get the chance to go there.
“I suppose I thought those days had gone for me, but I think the Union have invented a competition now with a meaningful end to it – a great concept.
Crymych have come a long way in a short time and their success is the reward for a lot of hard work in building the club from the bottom up.
“We are a young club, just 25 years old this year, but from 1984 to now has been an immense journey and we have become the envy of West Wales for what we have achieved,” said chairman Brian Francis.
“We have teams from Under 7’s right through all the age groups, with youth, women’s teams and second team. They are all very successful.
“John has done what every player dreams of doing and now he is giving it back.
The SWALEC Plate has given the club a real sense of excitement as they get ready to embark on their campaign.
“As captain I would love to lead my team out at the Millennium Stadium, it is very exciting and it would be a proud moment,” said club skipper Mark Oakman.
“Obviously Lampeter reached the final at the Millennium Stadium last year and we beat them twice in the league, so we looked a little at what might have been. This season it is a bit fairer and hopefully we can progress to the final.”
Even an old campaigner like Davies, who has experienced so much around the world with rugby, is enjoying his new challenges.
“I like to say that I’ve reached the top now and pinnacle playing for Crymych – it has gone a full circle because I started playing for Crymych in 1985-6 in their first Youth team, then I went on my travels but it is nice to be back now playing locally with the youngsters,” he laughed.
“It is nice to be in the Cup again, we had an excellent run last year and gave Cross Keys a fright in the first half down in Crymych before they pulled it together in the second half.
“Lampeter will be a tough nut to crack, it was a tough game in the league and they went to the final last year so they will be keen to progress and have a day out.”
That is now also a realistic goal for Davies and Crymych.