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Tribute to Wales rugby great Ken Owens

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Tribute to Wales rugby great Ken Owens

Posted By RobertLloyd58

Here’s a tribute piece I wrote about Wales rugby great Ken Owens for the Sports Aid Cymru Wales dinner programme on Friday –


IN the hall of fame of Welsh rugby greats, there are a handful of celebrated players who are known to us all . . . just by their Christian name.

Delme, Phil, Barry, Gareth, to name just four.

The most recent addition to that list is of course Ken.

Kenneth James Owens is, of course, a name that has hero status here in Carmarthen.

He’s not just Ken; he’s Our Ken.

What is more, he’s also The Sheriff.

With apologies to the current holder of the Town Council office of Sheriff, Ken is probably the best-known Sheriff Carmarthen has ever had.

If you’re a rugby fan, then you are proud to be part of the Sheriff’s posse.

A former club captain, Ken Owens is recognised as one of the all-time greats with the Scarlets in Llanelli.

The 37-year-old hooker played 274 matches for the club and represented Wales and the British and Irish Lions during an illustrious career.

A proud Welsh speaker, Ken was a product of the Carmarthen Athletic club, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin and UWIC/Cardiff Met.

He joined the ranks of the Scarlets Academy at the old Stradey Park in 2004 before breaking into the senior team.

Ken made his first-team debut at 19 for in a pre-season clash against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in 2006.

He played for the Scarlets for an incredible 18 seasons, joining an exclusive group of players to make 250 appearances.

A hugely respected leader, he captained the Scarlets for a record-breaking seven successive seasons, surpassing the great Phil Bennett.

He was club captain for the Guinness PRO12 title-winning season in 2016-17 and led the club to the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup a year later.

Wales’s most capped hooker, he played 91 times for Wales, featured in three Rugby World Cups and captained his country for the first time during the 2023 Six Nations.

He toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2017, to New Zealand, and 2021, to South Africa, playing in five Tests.

Speaking about his decision to retire, Ken was, as always, honest and speaking from the heart.

He said – “Not playing has been challenging, but the time is right to follow medical advice and hang up my boots.

“Had I written the script there would have been one more game for Wales, for the Scarlets and ultimately Carmarthen Athletic. A chance to sign off and thank everyone involved. It was not to be. It might not be the dream ending but my career has been more than I could have dreamt of.”

Ken played the last of his 91 Test matches for Wales against France in March 2023.

There are memories galore in such a distinguished rugby career.

Who can forget his surging runs, ball in hand; the passion with which he sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and those trademark double first pumps.

Ken, as we all know, has never forgotten his roots in Carmarthen. He is the son of Delme Owens, who has been a stalwart supporter of Sports Aid in west Wales for many years now.

Ken, we know, also recognises and appreciates the values the Sports Aid charity stands for in west Wales.

We will have to wait and see what he does next in life, whether there is another chapter of working in the game of rugby to be written, or whether he pursues other interests.

Whatever path he chooses, he can rest easy in the knowledge that he is universally admired, not only in his home ‘milltir sgwar’, but in all four corners of the rugby world.

He can cherish that admiration in his retirement from his playing career and rest easy that the people of Carmarthenshire will always be there to be part of the Sheriff’s faithful possee.

Let’s give a toast for a successful future to a true Welsh rugby great, Ken Owens . . .

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Written by RobertLloyd58

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