Welsh rugby’s best talents are poetry in motion. Like ballet dancers; perfectly balanced, graceful and effortless, the likes of Shane Williams are living embodiments of the beauty of the game. Indeed, while at Amman United, excitable song and dance man Shane would often pelt down the left-wing in a top hat and tails, carrying a cane.
However, some top players walk and run a bit funny, and we laugh at them. But not to their faces, of course…
Here are a top 5 of Welsh rugby stars that stand apart.
1. Cai Griffiths
Since breaking into the Ospreys squad in the 2007/8 season, prop Cai Griffiths has improved his line-out support play by wearing high-heels made to look like rugby boots. This can cause the 20st 4lb hulk to totter somewhat, and ‘mince’ from the defensive line into offside positions.
Since Gavin Henson’s shock sabbatical, Griffiths now uses his old locker. According to Henson, three hairnets, a bottle of tan and a Remington Ladyshave have still not been returned.
2. Tom James
Still comparatively early in his rugby development, Blues wing Tom James’ hard-learnt capacity to carry a ball while running at the same time has come at a cost. Dubbed ‘Chicken Run’ by sympathetic Blues fans, James will occasionally wear talons on his socks, and…well… runs like a chicken.
Wales attack coach Rob Howley’s success at stopping James from at least flapping his elbows mid-stride is listed as his greatest career achievement.
3. Rob Sidoli
Back-in-from-the-cold Dragons lock and former Grand Slam winner Rob Sidoli earned his nickname on account of both his peculiar gait, and his dietary preferences. Indeed, the marked dip in form suffered by ‘The Horse’ in recent seasons came as opposing fans exploited his passion for sugar cubes.
Now fitted with blinkers, Sidoli is able to give his full attention to set-piece moves and no longer wanders off at the promise of a carrot.
4. Jonathan Davies (not that one, the other one)
Star Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies defies the laws of physics by accelerating to immense speed without appearing to bend either of his knees. Nerds at the University of Narberth have used special slow-motion photography to ascertain that Davies does in fact bend his knees, which on closer inspection are only 4 inches above his ankles.
“I could have told you that,” balked Scarlets coach Nigel Davies.
5. Mark Jones
According to legend, osteopath’s dream and Builth Wells boy Mark Jones learnt his tackling skills playing ‘sheepdog’ on the family farm. Two knees later, and bionic Jones has developed a mental concentration technique to distract his pain receptors from the shooting sciatic agony pulsing into his brain stem. At speeds of over 20mph, Jones imagines he is a dog eating a plate of hot chips, causing him to pull a succession of hilarious facial expressions.
To make him feel even more ridiculous, Jones’ regional playing contract includes a bonus marrowbone for every try scored. At the end of the 2006 season, Jones earned the coveted Carwyn James Memorial Slipper.