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Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams plays host at Newbury club awards

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Newbury Rugby Club were treated to sporting royalty at their club awards as former Welsh winger Shane Williams MBE attended as guest speaker.

Despite standing at just 5ft 7ins, Mr Williams is a giant of the sport. He was named world rugby player of the year in 2008, awarded an MBE in 2012 and inducted into the Rugby Hall of Fame in 2016.

And on Friday, the superstar was drafted in to host and present awards for Newbury Rugby Club – speaking for 45 minutes about his own career and chatting to all the different tables.

Shane Williams with club president David Jones (56571770)
Shane Williams with club president David Jones (56571770)

Club president David Jones, who organised the event, said everyone at the club had been “so impressed” with Mr Williams and that it had been a great evening.

He said: “He was world player of the year in 2008 – to get someone of that calibre is pretty unbelievable.

“They will have all seen him play.

Shane Williams
Shane Williams

“It wasn’t just a guy getting up and telling jokes, it was a rugby story.

“The players did really enjoy it and the fact he went round the tables was a real credit to him which made it a much more sociable and friendly set up.”

Mr Jones said that the Welsh legend had a very relatable story. Mr Williams had played a bit of school rugby but only really came to the sport aged 18.

Shane Williams at the event (56577652)
Shane Williams at the event (56577652)

At 19 he started playing as a scrum-half for local club Amman United, and within a year he was spotted by Lyn Jones – then the Neath RFC coach.

Mr Williams soon made himself a mainstay of the team on the wing, going on to play more than 120 times for the club, before moving to Ospreys in Swansea, where he played a further 141 times.

Mr Jones continued: “It’s an incredible story – it was amazing for a guy with little rugby experience to get to that standard within three or four years of playing.”

Mr Williams played 91 times for Wales, scoring 58 tries and 290 points in total.

He was part of the Wales side that won the Grand Slam in the 2005 Six Nations, where he scored tries against Italy, Scotland and England.

He also played four times for the British and Irish Lions, scoring a further 10 points.

He ended his career at Mitsubishi Sagamihara DynaBoars in Japan, before spending the final few games of his career back at local club Amman United.

Mr Williams was introduced to the stage in a speech that said: “You know you’ve made it in sport when everyone knows you by your Christian name only.

“In English rugby, Jonny can only mean one person, and likewise in Welsh rugby Shane can only mean one person.”

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