0 The groundsman who took on the European champions

Aberavon groundsman and semi-pro player Jenkins found himself in Cardiff's team for huge European clash with Toulouse, pitched against the French giants who had world player of the year Antoine Dupont in their ranks.

It's part of the enduring magic of sport that a club groundsman who plays rugby semi-professionally can find himself facing European aces Toulouse and their newly crowned world player of the year barely a week after running out unnoticed in the Welsh Premiership.

"You could call it a surreal experience," laughs Rowan Jenkins, out Christmas shopping the morning after the game before when he had answered a Champions Cup call from Cardiff.

"One week I was down at the Drovers in the wind and rain playing Llandovery, the next I was at Cardiff Arms Park in front of a big crowd facing Toulouse, the European champions."

No-one can criticise sport for being predictable.

Jenkins is a full-time groundsman who doubles up as a loosehead prop for Aberavon RFC.

Really, at 30 he could have been forgiven for believing that the chance of any time in the European rugby sun had passed him by.

But the week before last a call came in to Aberavon wondering whether he could plug a gap in the Cardiff team for their glamour Heineken Cup tie against title-holders Toulouse.

Such things are not supposed to happen in these days of regimented rugby squads and the requirement for perfectly planned preparation at the elite end of the game.

But exceptional circumstances were afoot.

Cardiff, after all, were minus 42 players because of quarantine issues and various other problems which meant the club were forced to call on a number of academy members and semi-pros for what appeared their toughest test in years.

Ex-New Dock Stars and Felinfoel RFC product Jenkins was one of those handed the most difficult brief, packing down in the front row against an opposition pack big enough to send a small army running for the hills.

You can read the full article from the Wales Online HERE

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