Cardiff Blues and Wales hooker Rhys Thomas, who attended Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, had special praise for his PE teacher, Peter Barry, ahead of a special awards ceremony to be held in Cardiff next month.
I spent a lot of time with Mr Barry as he was my rugby coach as well as PE teacher, revealed Rhys.
He was great because he would treat us as young adults rather than kids, which gave us a lot more confidence.
He was an excellent role model and we had a lot of respect for him, as he did for us.
The New Directions Education Inspirational Teacher Awards Ceremony will be held on July 6 and comprise the following categories: Inspirational Primary Teacher; Inspirational Primary Head Teacher; Inspirational Secondary Teacher; Inspirational Secondary Head Teacher; Inspirational Special Educational Needs Teachers; Inspirational Teachers Support (Nursery Nurse, Teaching Assistants, Learning Support Assistant); Inspirational Education Ancillary Staff (Secretary/PA or other).
More than 20 headteachers, teachers and support staff have reached the finals of the New Directions Education Inspirational Teacher Awards 2007 for Wales.
Five special educational needs teachers and heads of special needs schools are among the finalists.
Others include teachers, heads and teaching support staff from primary and secondary schools across Wales.