Gerald Davies Wales
For those who know their rugby, there can only be one Gerald.
Possibly the finest winger of all time, Gerald Davies CBE played his part in the legendary Welsh team of the 1970s. With blistering pace and a devastating sidestep, Gerald was considered one of the most thrilling attacking players ever to grace the rugby field.
“We were very lucky to have a group of players who came together at the same time.” says the former Lion. “For ten years, we played fabulous rugby and the most vivid memory I have of those times was the club spirit we played with.”
For the majority of the decade that he was playing for Cardiff and Wales, he was living right here in North Cardiff.
“Yes, we lived in Wenallt Road, Rhiwbina for six or seven years. I remember the local area as a convenient and a comfortable place to live in. It was a nice area – full of good people.
“The best thing about living where we lived was the fact that you could walk 100 yards and you’d be out in the countryside. We used to go for walks – we’d take our daughter up to the Wenallt. The views up there are spectacular looking across to Caerphilly and out over the Channel.”
Gerald reminisces about living in North Cardiff but confesses that he didn’t get too much of an opportunity to appreciate the area as much as he would have liked.
As rugby was still an amateur sport at that time, most of my playing days were spent living out of a suitcase. Players in the modern game get paid to play and can devote all their time to training. In our case, we had to fit rugby around our day jobs.
“That’s not to say that we were in any way better than the players now – professionalism has made the game more dynamic. Tactics are different, styles have changed and players are bigger and more powerful.” says the man who was renowned for his speed. Gerald himself developed his speed as a sprinter and took inspiration from two legends.
“Carwyn James, I could see every Saturday down at Stradey Park, and the other player, who I never got to see that often was Cliff Morgan.”
As Gerald speaks, it becomes clear that it’s not just fleet of foot that makes Gerald remarkable. His calming, soothing voice masks a rapier-like thinking, a feature that will perhaps be put to the test this year. Back in November 2007, Gerald was named as manager of the 2009 Lions Tour.
“The appointment was very humbling- an honour of the highest order.” says Gerald. Rugby fans across the UK and Ireland will be hoping that Gerald brings a little more of his rugby magic to the brutal rugby fields of South Africa this month.
(Interview first published 2008 in Rhiwbina Living magazine)