No regrets for in-form Welsh international Williams
It’s close on a decade now since Rhodri Williams made his Wales debut as a fresh-faced 20-year-old.
There were outings off the bench against Tonga, Australia and Scotland, complete with a try in the last of those games.
The Swansea-born scrum-half has been away from the international stage since 2014, but fast forward eight years and you find him playing some of the best rugby of his life.
He’s been a key figure for the Dragons in a much improved showing in the BKT United Rugby Championship and last weekend he stood out with a try-scoring display in a 31-31 EPCR Challenge Cup draw with the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.
So how does the 29-year-old reflect on a journey that has taken in previous spells with the Scarlets and Bristol?
“Rugby is a rollercoaster, but I’ve not one regret in my career at all, the decisions I’ve made, the clubs I’ve gone to. There isn’t a huge amount I would change,” he said.
“My message to anyone starting out would be just enjoy your rugby and don’t get too bogged down with it.
“It was a long time ago I won my first Wales cap. I do feel a different player now. Naturally you have more of a leadership role as you get older and I quite enjoy that.
“So there is a slight difference with age, but game-wise I didn’t want to lose some of the natural attributes I had. There are times where you get older and you start thinking too much rather than just backing your instinct.
“I do feel like I back my instinct these days. If you see a gap, not hesitating, just go for it. The coaching staff let us express ourselves and back ourselves, so if you make a decision just go with it.
That is helping and I am pleased with how I am playing at the minute. I want to take this form into the next few weeks now.”
Williams, who came on board from Bristol in 2018, feels things are moving in the right direction at Dragons RFC.
“It’s the strongest squad since I have been here. Everyone coming in is doing just as good a job as everyone else. We have played a lot of players, shoved youngsters in and they have done well. We are trusting youngsters to do a job, we are building a squad, training is competitive.”
The Challenge Cup draw away to the Emirates Lions saw Dragons RFC pick up three points, with Williams’ touchdown helping secure a four-try bonus.
“It’s not a bad start to the competition at all and we are proud of our efforts. We can definitely take positives from the game,” he said.
“But it does show where the group is going that we were not happy with the result. The changing room was quite disappointed. We wanted to take back the full five points. We were pleased with taking three, but not 100 per cent satisfied.”
Dragons RFC were out in South Africa for three weeks in all, having also had BKT URC fixtures against the Emirates Lions and the DHL Stormers.
“It was great and we’ve grown as a group from it. We spent a lot of time together, got to know each other even more. We were a tight group as it is, we are even tighter now. We enjoyed each other’s company, did a few activities, safaris and things like that. Then when it came time to switch on, we trained well and we were competitive in all three games,” said Williams.
Now Dragons RFC welcome French club Pau to Rodney Parade on Saturday in their second Challenge Cup tie.
“We will go in with confidence and hopefully we can back up last weekend’s result. We can definitely challenge in this competition.”
Head coach Dai Flanagan, who joined from the Scarlets in the summer, is full of praise for the three-cap Williams.
“Rhodri has had a spring in his step since I arrived and it’s great to see,” he said.
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