Career landmark beckons for Cardiff star in Challenge Cup clash
It was way back in March 2010 that Lloyd Williams made his debut for Cardiff Rugby. Now, some 12 years on, the Welsh international scrum-half is on the verge of a major career landmark.
He is set to make his 250th appearance for the BKT United Rugby Championship outfit when they take on French club Brive in the EPCR Challenge Cup at the Arms Park on Saturday.
Only retired prop Taufa’ao Filise has played more games for the region and the 32-times capped Williams is within sight of the Tongan’s record tally of 255.
So, does it feel like 12 years since he had that very first outing at home to Leinster in the old Magners League, the precursor of the BKT URC?
“No, it doesn’t really. Mind you, there have been seasons where it’s felt like 12 years in one season!” he replies.
“But, on the whole, it has flown by. Two hundred and fifty games sounds a lot, but I honestly can’t remember many of them. I remember specific points and big wins, but I could probably count on two hands the individual games I remember.
“But I definitely remember a lot of the people I have met along the way and the great friends I have made. I think that’s the best thing about sport. You come across a lot of people and build a network of friends. There are a lot of good people in rugby and Welsh rugby in particular.
“I have been fortunate to form a lot of good relationships along the way with players, coaches and everyone within Cardiff rugby club.”
The popular and highly respected Williams, who is widely recognised for his professionalism and work ethic, turned 33 last month while out in South Africa, where he delivered a Player of the Match performance in the stunning 35-0 BKT URC victory over the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
That masterclass display of tactical kicking at a rain-lashed Kings Park suggested there is still plenty of life in the old dog, so no creaking bones yet then?
“The body feels really good. I’ve had to adapt a few things along the way as a scrum-half. You tend to bend down about 50 times a day to pass the ball, so I had to strengthen that area.
“It’s not quite like when you are 18 and you bounce into training on a Monday and you are good to go. There is a bit more preparation that goes into it. But, fortunately enough, I quite enjoy that stuff.”
So, with the benefit of hindsight, what would the Lloyd Williams of today tell the 20-year-old debutant of 2010?
“Just go for it every game, just have a crack,” he replies.
“I’ve had ups and downs, but over the course of my career I’ve had some great times and met some great people.”
Asked to choose one game that really sticks out from his 249 and he goes for the 2018 Challenge Cup final victory over Gloucester at Bilbao’s San Mamés Stadium.
“Bilbao is pretty vivid. I remember that just because of the occasion,” he says.
Now that competition will deliver another big occasion for him as he reaches the 250 milestone against Brive.
“It will be an exciting day for myself and my family, if selected,” he said.
“European competition is very important for Cardiff as a club and a region and this weekend is no different. It’s a game we are all looking forward to and hopefully it will be an exciting match and a good spectacle.
“I feel very fortunate to have been playing here for 12 years and hopefully this weekend will be one game that does stick out.”
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