Two stalwarts of Aberavon RFC have retired from rugby, lock forward Sam Parris-Williams and hooker Ieuan Davies.
Simon King signed Sam in 2009 and played his debut against Cardiff in 2009 appearing, 211 times for ‘the Wizards’. Sam was taught in Pencoed Comprehensive school by King. Williams was an Osprey for a while until injury struck him badly on several occasions.
Similarly, Ieuan turned out to be a wonderful signing by Simon King, who took him from Cardiff after having selected him for Wales under-18 caps in 2009 when he was playing for Treorchy. He then won Wales under-20 caps in 2011. Ieuan made his debut for Aberavon in 2012 against Tata Steel and has notched up 241 appearances.
Davies, a typical strong Valley forward who can run and pass splendidly, he had previously made a Wales under-16 debut against England in 2007 while with Treorchy Comprehensive School. He was given the nickname of ‘Smeegal’ at Cardiff and played for Blues under-18s. A clever and fine player who travelled regularly from Treorchy to play. He works as a steel fixer and concreter and he played his 200th game vs Newport (home) in a friendly on 4/9/2021. He confesses to having played one game for Glamorgan Wanderers.
Sam became a very young captain of Aberavon in 2012-13, and was scoring tries regularly until injury struck again. However, he bounced back to play consistent rugby as a lock and also being a fine ball-handler before the COVID break. In August 2021 Sam was coaching the Blues under-16s and Y Coleg Cymraeg. In 2022 he joined the Llandovery College staff.
Speaking about memories over his time at Aberavon, Ieuan gave us a few.
“I have so many amazing memories over the years but playing in the British and Irish cup has to be up there as what you learn as a team and a person is unforgettable.
Another would be playing against Carmarthen quins knowing we had to score four tries just to get the bonces point to stay in the premiership and done it by half time. That buzz and feeling from the players and fans was unbelievable.
Third one will be getting to the stadium last year. What it meant to the players, coaches, fans, family and friends was a special day for everyone involved”, said Ieuan.
Sam Williams also shared some memorable moments.
“There has been loads of memorable moments over the years and my last game on Saturday with Ieuan was definitely up there.
Thinking back at some of the best times over the years, the British and Irish Cup stag doo’s definitely stand out, where the legendary stories of ‘Browny Big Lip’ still haunt my dreams.
Some more bitter sweet memories like the two Cup Finals in the Principality and the Premiership play-offs, all of which we ended up narrowly losing.
Selfishly though, my most memorable moment was probably getting to my 200th appearance for Aberavon. 14 seasons with 1 club, you’d think 200 caps would have been easy but the amount of injuries and operations I had early in my playing days I never thought I would get there. To make the ‘200 Club’ at Aberavon with my family there was pretty special for me”, added Sam.
Both players were asked what they would miss the most about rugby and the club.
“I have made a lot of friends at the club over the years just every one working hard for each other. Coffee club/run club on a Thursday before training starts having a moan and laugh, the boys know who they are.
… just playing in the big games with moments you can look back on and the buzz in the changing room before going on the field”, commented Ieuan.
“The people around the environment will be a major blow to the system when it sinks in, they have all been such a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Also, Game Day!! There’s no better feeling than running out at the Talbot Athletic Ground on a sunny Saturday with your mates. It’s always a great atmosphere there and to see my wife and the dog up on the bank supporting us is something I’ll genuinely miss. After so many years of that, it will be a strange feeling in September knowing that I won’t get to do it again”, said Sam.
Sam was probably elevated to captaincy too early in his career and had to fight for a regular place and for fitness. But, he stuck at it and gained respect from within the club and from opponents.
Ieuan can be correctly placed alongside Billy James and Morton Howells as the club’s best-ever hooker, though Luke Davies can yet be elevated to join them. He would fit into any scrum in any era.
Although Sam and Ieuan have now both retired we were curious as what their plans are for the future.
“Right now, I’m planning on letting the body recover and spending some time with my family. Zoe and I have just bought a new house so plenty to keep us busy over the next few months.
Hopefully I won’t step completely away from the game though. Rugby has given me so much over the years and I have spent a fair few seasons coaching alongside playing, so fingers crossed I will stay involved in the game somewhere, just in a different role”, added Sam.
“Just going to have some family time and enjoy spending more time with my little one over the next couple of months. Then have a think about it.
I would like to open my eyes into triathlon training and see where that takes me. But who knows at the moment. Definitely going to walk the three peaks and other mountains in wales with my crazy Vizslas”, finalised Ieuan.
Sam has been a credit to the club and the sport. Where it has been hard to get the ball off Ieuan as he loves scoring tries. He is a people’s favourite and the best “No 2” in the Premiership.We wish the both the very must of luck in the future and a massive thank you for every moment in an Aberavon jersey.