Rugby in Wales is like a religion. As January draws to an end you can almost taste the anticipation in the air for the coming Six Nations tournament. When asked about a favourite memory of Cardiff, rugby is often an occasion that Cardiff alumni fondly remember. Dragons painted on cheeks, daffodil hats and singing along to Bread of Heaven, all form part of the mix for a Six Nations weekend in Cardiff.
Cardiff alumni are at the heart of the Six Nations both on and off the playing field. The Welsh women’s team sees two Cardiff alumnae line up in the starting 15, with Elinor Snowsil (PGCE 2014) playing fly half and Robyn Wilkins (BSc 2016) joining her for kicking duties playing at fly half and centre. Wales’ men’s team sees Cardiff School of Medicine alumnus Jamie Roberts (MBBCh 2013) named in the squad nine years after his Six Nations debut, alongside honorary fellow Sam Warburton (Hon 2015). Away from the Welsh squad, Ireland’s women is also home to Cardiff alumna Claire Molloy (MBBCh 2013) who won her 50th Cap for Ireland in their winning game against Italy.
Off the pitch, Cardiff alum are also involved with the tournament. Fans of Scrum V may recognise Pundit Dr Gwyn Jones (MBBCh 2003). Gwyn is a former Wales international having captained Wales in 1997; sadly his rugby career was cut short after a spinal injury. A little known fact is that Gwyn is also a qualified doctor having graduated from Cardiff’s School of Medicine where he played for Medicals RFC alongside his studies.
Historically, the Welsh squad has seen several Cardiff students and alumni make the team, with former Wales internationals Rhys Williams (Physiotherapy 1998-1999) and Richard Parks (Dental Surgery 1997-2000, Hon 2013) having studied at Cardiff University. Gareth Davies (BSC 1977), the current chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, shared his memories of both playing for Wales and studying in Cardiff in last year’s Cardiff Connect, including a career highlight of scoring a drop goal in Twickenham helping Cardiff University become the first Welsh University to win the UAU.
For those of you not able to visit Cardiff for this year’s Six Nations, here’s a taste of the atmosphere.