As the excitement builds to the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Swansea University Sports Village hosted a farewell final training day for the Canadian national rugby team before they departed for Cardiff for their first pool game.
Local school children had the chance to see the team training and to meet and have their pictures taken with their star players and grabbed anything they could find, even shoes and foreheads, to get autographs.
Swansea University Registrar Raymond Ciborowski and the Canadian team manager Gareth Rees exchanged commemorative shields during the event to mark their stay in Swansea.
The Canadian rugby squad have been staying in Swansea for the past week and have been using the excellent Swansea University Sports Village as their base training camp.
The Swansea University Sports Village staff produced a perfect pitch for the team which held up well despite the bad weather. The team, management and support staff also attended an official welcome reception at the Brangwyn Hall earlier this week.
Connections between the Canadian team and Swansea are strong. Not only does the Canadian Team boast players from the Ospreys camp (Tyler Ardron, Capt and Jeff Hassler) team manager Gareth Rees also has family links with Wales and particularly with the Neath Valley. His father Alan Rees emigrated to Canada from Wales, and was himself a former rugby player having represented Cross Keys, Maesteg and London Welsh.
Gareth’s family originated from Resolven and he has played in the fly-half and full back positions for Newport, Wasps and the Harlequins and was a regular visitor to the White’s St Helen’s ground. He even played in a Oxford University team which were beaten by Swansea University.
Gareth maintained his Welsh links when he grew up in a Welsh community in Canada with the Welsh mining engineering Grenville Thomas as his adopted uncle. Grenville began his career as a 16-year-old coal miner in his native Wales, moving to Canada after graduating from University College, Cardiff, in 1964.
Speaking from the pitch side Gareth said: “ I am a proud Wales and Swansea man. When we were looking at venues for our training camp I had no hesitation in picking Swansea. The pitch has been exceptional and the Sports Village team have really made every effort to make us feel at home. I particularly want to thank the Swansea University Head of Sport Gwyneth Diment and our Team Liaison Officer and Swansea University Sport and Corporate Events Manager Richard Lancaster for their sterling and unstinted efforts to fulfil our needs. Swansea University has been a great host and we would be keen to return again to this great town. “
Swansea University Registrar Raymond Ciborowski said: “ We were delighted when the Canadian team decided to come to Swansea and we have been proud to have been given the opportunity to host their training camp. It has been a pleasure for Swansea University to have played a part in the team’s preparations and to have been able to provide an occasion for the local community to see and meet a world class rugby team. We wish them well in the tournament but hope we don’t meet them in the final !
The Swansea University Sports Village will also be hosting the Fijian teams training preparations from 19 September to 3 October and possibly hosting a quarter final team from 10 – 12 October.
Picture 1. The Canadian players signing autographs and taking selfies with local school children.
Picture 2. Swansea University Registrar Raymond Ciborowski and Canadian Rugby Team Manager Gareth Rees exchanging commemorative shields.
Picture 3. Canadian Capt and Ospreys player Tyler Ardron, Swansea University Registrar Raymond Ciborowski, Canadian Rugby Team Manager Gareth Rees and Swansea Student Union Sports Officer Felix Mmeka with the Canadian team and local schoolchildren.
- Friday 18 September 2015 18.09 BST
- Thursday 19 September 2019 12.27 BST
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050