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Putting on a united front in fighting racism – the Glenn Webbe story

22 Feb 2023 3 minute read
Glenn Webbe (Credit: BBC Wales)

In a documentary to be shown on BBC One Wales this evening former Wales international winger Glenn Webbe recounts the time when on a tour to South Africa he was refused service in a restaurant.

In response his coach and teammates all stood up and walked out in solidarity.

This is one of the many stories featured in Legends of Welsh Sport, which looks back on some of the greatest and most inspiring sportsmen and women Wales has ever produced – from the underdogs who defied the odds, to the game changers who helped transform their sports and their country.

In this programme, former Wales star Webbe shares his story of how he rebelled against the status quo to carve out his own career in his own way.

Webbe, who grew up in Ely, Cardiff as the only boy of eight children, would go on to become an iconic figure in rugby, and in an era where many of the best black players went “up north” to play rugby league.

Spurning the chance to go professional he would stay and become only the second black player to be capped by Wales.

Though Webbe denies he’s a rebel, the programme showcases key moments from his career where he would deviate from what was expected of him.

As a youth, he was advised that he wouldn’t play for Wales unless he joined a more ‘fashionable’ club, such as Cardiff.

Glenn Webbe’s autobiography

Instead, Glenn would join Bridgend RFC at the age of 18 in 1981. He remained loyal to the club and the blue and white shirt, staying for 14 years and scored a record-breaking amount of tries.

Also in 1981, he joined the Wales Youth side on a tour of South Africa. This was during the Apartheid era and his family had concerns about Glenn going to play there. However, Webbe went on tour and his presence became a point of defiance and protest for the Welsh team themselves – on one notable occasion when he was refused service in a restaurant, his coach and teammates all stood up and walked out in solidarity.

In 1987, Webbe represented Wales at the inaugural Rugby World Cup and would make history against Tonga by becoming the first man to score a hat-trick in the competition – one of which was scored while suffering from concussion after a powerful collision with the opposition earlier in the match.

He was also part of an infamous Wales versus England match on his home debut in Cardiff.

It was as a stalwart of Bridgend however that he is best remembered, and the film features interviews with Glenn’s former teammates Gareth Thomas and Geraint Thomas, as well as Glenn’s sister Jacky.

LEGENDS OF WELSH SPORT: GLENN WEBBE is on BBC One Wales tonight at 8pm.

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1 year ago

We aren’t A Racist people! Wish people would Stop insinuating that we are. How do They reach such high status in our society if we are so Racist? We are nothing like South Africa, never have and never will be. All these stories are clearly designed to make out we can do more.

Last edited 1 year ago by Riki
1 year ago

Webby was part of a great Bridgend club in the amateur era. Talented and able to spring some unconventional moves based on that initial burst of speed like a rocket taking off. Would have had more caps but likes of Hadley, Ieuan Evans, and his clubmate Titley were also in contention.

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