One last chance this season, for us to look at the appearance ‘numbers’ in the Swansea RFC squad. The last time we did this Matt Dodd. Gareth Rees, Callum Bowden and James Davies had all recently crossed the 50 appearances line for Swansea. We can now add another two names to that list of current players who’ve given the club such wonderful effort and dedication. HANNO DIRKSEN crossed the 50 appearance whitewash – or maybe ‘swallow dived’ as of old, when we played Cardiff last weekend. Hanno is no stranger to St Helen’s, having made his debut back in 2009 against Glamorgan Wanderers when ‘Webby and Ian Jones led Swansea to a play-off for the League. The well-travelled Dirksen hails from Krugersdorp in South Africa, but has played representative rugby for the USA at U17 and U18 as well as a barnstorming spell at the Ospreys. For Swansea he’s scored 28 tries and 2 conversions in his 50 matches. Hanno’s just turned 31 but is as strong a runner and tackler as ever. I’m sure we’ll see some fireworks should he play tomorrow. LIAM POPHAM crossed the 50 appearance line when he appeared against Bridgend in our dramatic last gasp win at the Timbuild Brewery Field on 4th April. He’s since notched up another match at home v Cardiff last Saturday and sits at a solid 51 matches for ‘The Whites’. Liam made his debut for Swansea on 4th Jan. 2014 against Carmarthen Quins and has scored 156 points for the club (11T, 28C, 15Pen) since then. We congratulate Liam on this milestone, especially considering the enforced gap in rugby fixtures that have so ravaged rugby in Wales. Liam has also played for Tata Steel and Aberavon and appeared for Ospreys U16s and U18s. Just behind Dirksen and Popham in the appearances sit Chris Morgans (45), Charlie Davies (42) Owen Thomas (33). The newer players are racking up the games at quite a rate as the coaches introduce ‘new blood’ to the squad.
Of the ‘Old Guard’ Tom Sloane with 137 matches under his belt, is still out front and going strong – or so he tells us! He moves ever closer to a 150th, a great club servant. Swansea skipper Jon Fox has 122 to his name for The Whites. Injuries this season has prevented him getting nearer to 150, but, with 8 more matches played this season, he’s nevertheless contributed greatly to the combined effort the boys have put in for the club and its supporters this term.
Jay Williams, has consistently put in great performances for ‘The Whites’ and since 2016 has turned out 87 times for Swansea, deputising during parts of this season for Jon Fox, with the captain’s armband. His efforts for the team are obvious to anyone watching from the stands and apart from a dubious Errol Flynn style moustache, he cannot be faulted!
At 27 years old Matt Dodd can hardly be described as ‘Old Guard’. Nevertheless, his contribution since his debut in 2014 has been significant and his turning out when needed, despite carrying injury is typical of the positive attitude within the whole squad. Matt has made 72 appearances to date and scored the first try of his Swansea career back in October against Llanelli. Time for another tomorrow, we think Matt! Wing and full-back Rhys Williams stretched his own record to 92 this season, albeit with only two appearances due to work commitments. His strength, running and big boot have served Swansea well.
The stats above are however, not just ‘numbers’ as they each represent an example of the commitment of the players to Swansea RFC and we thank them for that. Whilst achieving 100 appearances and a coveted Swansea ‘100 cap’ is a goal to be aimed at, each week the boys turn out for training and hopefully for selection and each match played is an achievement in itself. As the club approaches its 150th anniversary next season, many records will be brought out for us to wonder at. But now, as then, turning out for this famous club just once is something many of us wish we could say we have done. Congratulations to LIAM POPHAM and HANNO DIRKSEN on their 50th appearances and a big thank you to the whole squad for keeping the Swansea ethos of togetherness alive and well.