Everyone at the Cardiff Blues were saddened to hear the news that former Cardiff Blues and Wales international Rhys Williams has been forced to retire from rugby after a serious knee injury.
Educated at Ysgol Iolo Morganwg and Cowbridge Comprehensive School, Rhys burst onto the international scene in 2000 making his Wales debut in the Six Nations Championship match against Ireland in Dublin, playing at full-back.
He had already represented Wales at all age grade levels from Under 16 to Under 21, playing in the Youth World Cup in 1999. He went on to win 44 caps for Wales playing at full-back and wing and starred for Wales during the 2005 six nations, scoring two tries against Scotland on the way to Wales' first Grand Slam for 27 years.
At club level, Rhys progressed through the age grade system at Cardiff RFC before making a try scoring debut as an 18 year old for the senior side in the 98/99 season. He was also part of the Cardiff RFC squad that won the Welsh-Scottish League title in 1999.
His record for Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Blues makes impressive reading, scoring 100 tries in 187 appearances for the club and then the region. He is in joint 7th place with Tom James in the all time top scorers for the Cardiff Blues with 100 points (20 tries) and was Captain of the Blues during the 2005/06 season.
Speaking of the announcement Rhys said,
"I'm obviously massively disappointed to receive the news from the Doctors, but I hope in the future to look back on my rugby career and be proud of my achievements in the game."
"Rugby has been a huge part of my life and has given me many wonderful opportunities and memories."
"I've been fortunate enough to see the world while playing the game I love and have met a lot of people and made many lifelong friends."
"To Captain the Cardiff Blues during the 2005/06 season was a huge honour and I'm also proud that I've only ever played for my hometown of Cowbridge and for Cardiff and the Blues."
"I'm also vey proud to have represented my country on 44 occasions."
"I'd like to thank everyone at the Cardiff Blues and to all the supporters for all the encouragement they have given me, especially over the challenges of the last few seasons."
"I would especially like to thank my wife Liz and family for all their support and also to my namesake, surgeon Rhys Williams and the Cardiff Blues medical team headed up by Tim Atter for all their efforts over the last year."
"A new chapter in my life begins and I'm looking forward to gaining some experience in the business world."
Speaking of the announcement Cardiff Blues CEO, Robert Norster said;
"Throughout his entire illustrious playing career with Cardiff RFC, the Blues and the Wales national team, Rhys Gethin Williams has consistently proved to be the proverbial model professional. The level of warmth and affection he attracts from people across the game is perhaps unsurprising given his impressive rugby and athletic abilities, good nature and profile topped off with an almost unhealthy level of good looks! Joking aside, he remains a most genuine individual with a hugely likeable character who continues to represent our team and indeed our national sport so exceptionally well.
"Having fought so tirelessly to repeatedly rehabilitate following an appalling catalogue of injuries, it is fully understandable that this day has sadly now arrived. However, an enforced and premature retirement it most certainly is at the tender age of just 29 years of age. An articulate individual with an impressive skill set both on and off the field of play, Rhys is better positioned than many to successfully develop his onward career. Despite having done so much in his curtailed playing career, it is an absolute certainty that Cardiff Blues and the national sport of Wales has not heard or seen the last of this impressive ambassador of our game."
Blues Director of Rugby, David Young added;
"It is always a sad day when a player is forced to hang up his boots and even sadder one when one of the genuine good guys is put in that position which Rhys most certainly is. On the field, his pace and elusive qualities were an integral part of his success and marked him out as a special performer with try-scoring abilities up there with the very best to have ever worn the shirt. His game understanding is also of the highest order as was evident in his time as captain of the team and will serve him well in any onward involvement in the game he may choose to pursue."
"On behalf of everyone at the Blues, I wish him every success following what has been a long, successful and distinguished playing career".
The drama of Guinness PRO12 rugby returns this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 5.15pm) as Cardiff Blues tackle Munster Rugby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park - and you can be part of this massive match day with tickets still on sale!
Cardiff Blues Supporters Club (CBSC) joined forces with Aberdare RFC to hold a Balloon Race fundraiser for Owen Williams on Sunday (November 9). The day coincided with a mini rugby tournament and 1,000 balloons were sold to raise money for Owen's fund.