Name: Shane Williams
Date of Birth: 26/02/1977
Current Club: Neath-Swansea Ospreys
Position: Left Wing/Scrum Half
Previous Clubs: Neath; Amman Utd
Honours (to date): Wales: 73 Caps. Lions: 4 caps
International record (to date): 51 tries for Wales, 2 tries for the British Lions
Height: 5ft 8in
Weight: 12st 4lb
Other Sports Played: Soccer/Tennis
Shane Williams is from Glanamman in the Amman valley and went to Amman Valley Comprehensive School in Ammanford. His parents lived in rooms above the Cross Keys public house on Glanamman square where he was born and grew up, moving later to a local council housing estate in Glanamman. While at Amman Valley Comprehensive School his chief sport was gymnastics, from which he attributes his amazing balance while running and jinking at speed on the rugby field. (He shares this gymnastic background with a another famous Amman Valley rugby player from the previous generation, Gareth Edwards, who was also a talented youth gynmnast.) Shane Williams also played soccer for the local village team, Cwmamman United AFC, and as a youth would often alternate the two sports, playing soccer for Cwmamman United AFC one week then rugby for Amman United RFC the next.
In the 2000 Welsh rugby season Shane Williams shot onto the international stage as on of the most exciting wings Wales have produced for many seasons. He started out, however, as a scrum half, switching to the wing when he signed for Neath from Amman United, though he had originally been offered a contract with Blaydon rugby club in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, a feeder club for the English premier league team, Newcastle RFC (formally Gosforth RFC). After visiting Blaydon he was about to travel to the North East to join the club, when he was approached by Neath RFC Coach Lyn Jones to join them instead. In the reorganisation of the Welsh club rugby system soon afterwards, Neath RFC merged with Swansea RFC to create the west Wales regional team Neath-Swansea Ospreys, for whom he now plays his club rugby
Williams is a welcome throwback to the days when players did what came naturally. Easily the quickest player in the Wales squad, he dislikes sprint training and has never timed himself over 100 metres. As a sixth-former he tired of having constantly to make way for bigger players (he is only 5ft 8in), switching to soccer for a couple of years.
He finished the 2000 Six Nations Championship with three tries and played a central part in Welsh wins over Italy, Scotland and Ireland. With the ball in hand, Shane Williams has been described as a new Gerald Davies, an astounding accolade. Williams is a typical Welsh winger – very quick, hardworking with good handling of the ball. Despite doubts over his diminutive size, if Wales can free him up he will continue to terrorise opposition defences. In his first seven appearances for Wales, he scored five tries and has used his appearances in a Welsh shirt since to notch up many more. He spent the summer of 2000 as part of the Welsh development squad in Canada, and was also the subject of intense transfer speculation as Neath tried to balance the books. However he remained at the Gnoll.
Shane Williams fell out of favour as an international choice under then Wales coach Steve Hansen, and couldn't find a place in the Welsh team from 2001 to 2003. He returned to the Wales team after this two year absence for his country's pre-World Cup win over Romania, where he scored two tries. His performance caught the eye of the selectors and resulted in him winning selection for the 2003 World Cup as third choice scrum-half, despite winning all of his previous 11 caps on the wing. The Amman Valley flyer, who now plays for the Neath-Swansea Ospreys, can play at either scrum-half or wing, making him an invaluable asset to any squad, though his speed and phenomenal try scoring ability should ensure that he'll be pulling on a winger's jersey for some time to come.
So far, Shane Williams reached has scored 50 tries in his 71 Welsh internationals to date, a Welsh record, and a record matched by few Test players from any country. The legendary seventies' winger Gerald Davies, whose international playing career was from 1966 to 1978, scored 20 tries in 46 games for Wales, a Welsh record at the time. Nineties legend Ieuan Evans, also a winger (international playing career 1987 - 1998), once held the Welsh try-scoring record with 34 tries scored in 72 internationals, but during the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France Shane Williams passed that total in his 50th international. In Wales' Grand Slam clincher against France at Cardiff on March 15th 2008, Shane Williams passed the previous try-scoring record held by Gareth Thomas, whose 40 tries were achieved in 100 internationals.
The up-to-date playing record of Shane Williams for the Ospreys, Wales, and the British Lions can be found on the Ospreys website HERE. Then click on Shane Williams.
Shane Williams' 51 tries may be a record for Wales but he has some way to go to beat players from some other countries. Here are the leading international try-scorers to date who are ahead of Williams:
Daisuke Ohata (Japan) – 69 tries (from 58 internationals)
David Campese (Australia) – 64 tries (from 101 internationals)
Shane Williams (Wales) – 53 tries (from 77 internationals: 51 tries for Wales and 2 for British lions)
Rory Underwood (England) – 50 tries (from 91 internationals)
Doug Howlett (New Zealand) – 49 tries (from 62 internationals)
Christian Cullen (New Zealand) – 46 tries (from 58 internationals)
Japanese winger Daisuke Ohata may be the current world-record holder with 69 international tries, but only about a quarter of his tries have come against major rugby nations, so it is difficult to compare like-for-like. However, Campese's 64 tries were from 101 international appearances while Ohata's 69 tries come from just 58 international games, so comparisons are even more difficult to make. But whichever way you measure the best, Shane Williams is surely up there with any contenders.
His position as one of the game's greats was given official approval on November 23rd 2008 when he was named by the International Rugby Board (IRB) as the world player of the year. This award by the game's governing body was the only one not to go to New Zealand, with the All Blacks taking IRB Team of the Year and Graham Henry named IRB Coach of the Year. But the 33-year-old recalled: "When I was playing for Amman (Williams' first club Amman United), I just wanted a game for the firsts every weekend. I would have taken a start for the Amman firsts several years back, so to get this award is overwhelming. It has blown me away. Certainly, the success Wales have had with the Grand Slam has helped. I am able to get a lot of ball and get involved in the game a lot, and the fact I am still enjoying my rugby." Williams' six tries in Wales' 2008 Grand Slam season almost certainly clinched the accolade of world's best player for him.
Williams' best performance at international level was a hat-trick of tries scored against Argentina on June 19th 2004. He enjoys tennis, golfing, boating and football, and supports Blackburn Rovers. His favourite rugby memory was walking out at the Millennium Stadium for the first time against France.
His autobiography Shane: My Story was published by Mainstream Publishing in 2008.
From the Back Cover
Shane Williams has spent almost a decade thrilling the rugby world with his evasive running skills and a box of tricks that has left the best defences grasping thin air, disproving the notion that size matters in modern professional rugby. He's been called the little wizard, the artful dodger, and a whole host of other superlatives, but wherever Williams has played, the crowd have been on the edge of their seats.
.....When he entered his 20s, Williams looked set for a life of relative obscurity playing scrum half for his local side, Amman United, and scratching around in a variety of day jobs. All that was to change, however, when he was plucked from nowhere by then Neath coach Lyn Jones, and his rise to become Wales's most dangerous strike runner was meteoric. Following his international debut aged 21, Williams lit up Wales's 2003 World Cup campaign, and went on to become an integral part of the Grand Slam-winning Wales side of 2005, a year in which he also toured with the British Lions to New Zealand. In 2008, when Wales took the Grand Slam once more, he made an invaluable contribution to the side's glorious victory.
.....In Shane, Williams reveals the inside story of his incredible rugby career so far, the personal trials that have come with success, and how he has managed to defy the odds to become a living Welsh rugby legend.
He was a key member of the Welsh teams which won two Grand Slams. In the 2005 Six Nations championship he scored three tries and earned himself a place in the British Lions team to tour New Zealand later the same year. In the 2008 Grand Slam triumph he went further and scored six tries. Until 2005 Wales hadn't won a Grand Slam since 1978, their third and last Grand Slam of the seventies. So, for the historically minded, here is a brief record of all of the Welsh Grand Slams:
1908: beat England 28-18, Scotland 6-5, France 36-4 (friendly), and Ireland 11-5
Wales won their first ever international match against France in this year, running in nine tries (which were only worth three points), and were therefore the first team to win the Grand Slam and Triple Crown, although France were not formally accepted into the competition for another two years. Wing Reggie Gibbs scored four tries in the France match, playing in a back-line that crossed the whitewash seventeen times in the four matches. Gibbs scored six tries in that campaign, setting a record. Full-back Bert Winfield also contributed immeasurably with his place-kicking.
1909: beat England 8-0, Scotland 5-3, France 47-5 (friendly), and Ireland 18-5
Jack Bancroft was the new full-back for this campaign, and kept the kicking tradition alive with 12 successful shots at goal. He eventually held the points-scoring record for a Welshman right up until surpassed by one Phil Bennett. Wales also beat Australia 9-6 a month before the championship started. Centre and captain Billy Trew scored a hat-trick against France in the Stade Colombes, and a try against both Scotland and Ireland, and was leading try-scorer for the campaign.
1911: beat England 15-11, Scotland 32-10, France 15-0, and Ireland 16-0
This was the last Grand Slam for 39 years, and the win against Ireland marked the last in four years which had yielded only the one defeat, against England in 1910 at Twickenham. They played 17 games in the four years, winning 16, and scoring 334 points which included 78 tries. Billy Trew was still captain, but now from fly-half. He led a back-line which would have consisted solely of Cardiff players all the way through the 1911 season had it not been for Fred Birt of Newport playing against England in the opening game and Scotland in the second. Reggie Gibbs was up to his old tricks again, scoring a hat-trick against Scotland.
1950: beat England 11-5, Scotland 12-0, Ireland 6-3, and France 21-0
The opening win against England was only their second at Twickenham since 1911, but the big match was against Ireland at Ravenhill. Ireland had won the Triple Crown the two years before, and played a rugged, physical brand of rugby that coined the moniker 'Triple Crown Rugby'. Wales beat Ireland at their own physical game that day. There was no score for an hour, then Ken Jones scored a try. Almost immediately it was cancelled out by a penalty from Ireland's George Norton. But there was still time for Malcolm Thomas to squeeze in the corner for the winner.
1952: beat England 8-6, Scotland 11-0, Ireland 14-3, and France 9-5.
This Grand Slam was a recovery after a disappointing defeat to the Springboks just before Christmas, in which the great Cliff Morgan had a dreadful game. Wales beat England with 14 men after the late withdrawal of Bleddyn Williams with 'flu, and having been six points down. But Ken Jones scored twice to seal the win. In the game against Scotland, Jones again scored a try, and Rex Willis played a good deal of the game with a broken jaw. This was in the days when no replacements were allowed. Wales failed to score a try in the final game in Paris, but Lewis Jones' two penalties and a drop goal by Alun Thomas secured the win and the Slam.
1971: beat England 22-6, Scotland 19-18, Ireland 23-9, and France 9-5
Many people see this as the finest side Wales ever had, and certainly the Lions selectors agreed, they took eleven of the team on tour after this season. Gareth Edwards and Barry John were at half-back, JPR Williams at full-back and Gerald Davies on the wing. John Dawes captained the team from the centre. The pack did not change personnel once throughout the campaign, and the only change in the backs was when Ian Hall played in Scotland instead of Arthur Lewis. The opening win over England was the first game to be played in the new National Stadium of Cardiff, and the Scottish match was won with the last kick of the game by John Taylor after a try by Gerald Davies. The pivotal point of the France match - which was a Grand Slam showdown - was an intercept by J. P. R. Williams, which not only prevented a French try but set Gareth Edwards on his way for a try of his own.
1976: beat England 21-9, Scotland 28-6, Ireland 34-9, and France 19-13
Records tumbled during this campaign. The team scored 102 points during the campaign, and Phil Bennett scored 19 points in Dublin, equalling the records of Jack Bancroft and Keith Jarrett, and Bennett improved upon his own record by scoring 38 points during the tournament (tries were worth four points by this time. Gareth Edwards became the first man to score 18 tries for Wales, and became the most-capped Welsh player. Mervyn Davies became the most-capped forward. J. J. Williams scored the only try in the final game in Cardiff, which marked the start of a three-year period in which the France-Wales match would prove decisive to the championship. The home team won every time.
1978: beat England 9-6, Scotland 22-14, Ireland 20-16, and France 16-7
Gareth Edwards won his 50th cap in a dreadful opener against England, the first not to produce a try since 1962. He scored his 20th and final try in the win over Scotland. The final match against France in Cardiff marked the beginning of the end for the golden years of Welsh rugby. Both Edwards and Bennett played their last games, and their 13 points rescued Wales from a 7-0 deficit before half-time. Edwards in particular played one of his finest games for his country. Steve Fenwick added a drop goal shortly before the end to put the game out of sight, and to make Wales the first country to win three successive Triple Crowns.
2005: beat England 11-9, Italy, 38-8, France 24-18, Scotland 44-26, and Ireland 32 - 20
Wales 11 England 9: It all started on 5 February at the Millennium Stadium. A game against the old enemy. Wales were looking for their first win over England on home soil for 12 years. One man lit the blue touch paper and started Wales Grand Slam dream - that man was Gavin Henson. The shaven legged, sunbed-tanned, gelled-hair wonder boy struck a wonderful 45-metre penalty to complete a well deserved victory.
Match Stats: Wales: Tries: Shane Williams; Pens: S Jones, Henson. England: Pens: Hodgson (3)
Italy 8 Wales 38: One down, but a long way to go, and a tricky tip to the Italian capital Rome. The golden boy lost his touch as Italian fly-half Luciano Orquera charged down an attempted Henson clearance. But Wales were just too good for the Azzurri and could only watch as the men in red cut them apart with some fantastic rugby. Shane Williams was at his dancing best, teasing the Italian defence with run after run. Six Tries were scored and the second win registered - Wales had started to make themselves known.
Match Stats: Italy: Try: Orquera; Pens: De Marigny. Wales: Tries: J Thomas, Shanklin, M Williams, Shane Williams, Cockbain, Sidoli; Cons: S Jones (4)
France 18 Wales 24: With confidence flowing it was another chance to spend the Euros as Wales travelled to Paris. Mike Ruddock's men looked down and out after the first half in the Stade de France as the home side produced the sort of running rugby that the French public so crave. 15-6 down and on the ropes time for the heroics to begin. The men in red stunned the men in blue with two quick fire tries from Martyn Williams. Wales were on the comeback and had no intentions of losing. A backs-to-the-wall win was influenced by the man France has paid to bring to their shores Stephen Jones. The other French import, Gareth Thomas, had a broken thumb and would not feature in any further games. Win number three and talk of a Grand Slam began.
Match Stats: France: Tries: Yachvili, Rougerie; Drop Goal: Michalak; Pens: Yachvili; Cons: Yachvili. Wales: Tries: M Williams (2); Drop Goal: S Jones; Pens: S Jones (3); Cons: S Jones
Scotland 22 Wales 46: Wales had lit up the tournament with some wonderful running rugby, but the best was yet to come as they easily beat Scotland in a devastating first half of rugby at Murrayfield. Before Scotland knew it they were 38-3 down as Wales ran riot scoring three tries in the opening 15 minutes. The game was dead and despite a brave comeback, Wales were already turning their attentions to the next game Ireland at home.
Match Stats: Scotland: Tries: Craig, R Lamont, Paterson; Pens: Paterson; Cons: Paterson (2). Wales: Tries: Morgan (2), R Williams (2), Shane Williams, R Jones; Pens: S Jones (2); Cons: S Jones (5)
Wales 32 Ireland 20: And so it came to a Grand Slam match against Ireland, but not a Grand Slam decider. Ireland's defeat to France meant Wales were the only side who could still win the Grand Slam. Something which they hadn't achieved since 1978. The scene was set, the Millennium Stadium packed, and the weight of a nation hung on the shoulders of the Welsh Rugby team. Wales had not beaten Ireland in Cardiff since 1983. March 19, 2005 was a date which saw all the old memories fade into insignificance. First came a Gethin Jenkins charge-down score, then another wonder-try as the Welsh backs once again showed off their pace, style and brilliance. Ireland attempted to get back into it, but the boots of Henson and Stephen Jones meant the men in green were never going to spoil the party. Wales had beaten all that was put in front of them. Five games, five wins. Wales had won the Grand Slam.
Match Stats: Wales: Tries: Jenkins, Morgan; Pens: Henson, S. Jones (4); Cons: S. Jones 2; Drop Goals: Henson. Ireland: Tries: Horan, Murphy; Pens: O'Gara (2); Cons: Humphreys (2).
England 19, Wales 26. Wales 30, Scotland 15. Italy 8, Wales 47. Ireland 12, Wales 16. Wales 29, France 12.
England 19 Wales 26. Scorers: England: Tries: Flood 1; Conv: Wilkinson: 1; Pen: Wilkinson: 3, Drop: Wilkinson: 1. Wales: Tries: Phillips, Byrne; Conv: Hook 2; Pen: Hook: 4.
Wales 30 Scotland 15. Scorers: Wales: Tries: Shane Williams 2; Hook 1; Conv: Jones: 1, Hook 2. Pens: Jones 2; Hook 1. Scotland: Pens: Paterson 5.
Italy 8 Wales 47. Scorers: Italy: Tries: Castrogiovanni 1, Pens: Marcato 1. Wales: Tries: Shane Williams 2; Byrne 2; Shanklin 1; Conv: Jones 3, Hook 2; Pens: Jones 4.
Ireland 12 Wales 16. Scorers: Ireland: Pens: O'Gara: 4. Wales: Tries: Shane Williams 1; Con: Jones; Pen: Hook, Jones 2.
Wales 29 France 12. Scorers: Wales: Tries: Shane Williams 2; Conv: Jones 2; Pen: Hook 3, Jones 2. France: Pen Elissalde 3, Yachvili 1.
Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010