‘Evergreen’ Lloyd Williams Reflects On His Record Achievement After An Emotional Weekend Spent With Friends And Family

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

We sat down with Lloyd Williams to discuss his emotions after making a record 256th appearance for Cardiff Rugby.

Huw Evans Photography

Lloyd Williams became Cardiff’s most capped player on the weekend, bringing up his 256th appearance for the region during their United Rugby Championship fixture against Benetton Rugby, having edged past the previous record holder, Tau Filise.

After graduating from Cardiff’s academy, Williams’ thirteen years as a professional rugby player in the Welsh capital have come with great service and dedication to his craft.

It was therefore only fitting that the 33-year-old was able to reach that milestone at home, in front of family and friends to celebrate the landmark.

Williams said:

“The record was never something that I was chasing down, it’s not something I went into rugby to do.

“I think I only realised the magnitude of the event in the leadup to the game, when the club asked Tau Filise to present me with something from the club. It was great to have the players rallying around me, it was a pretty special feeling.

“I’m really pleased I was able to celebrate the achievement with my family there and with the supporters, who have been great to me and the team. They have played a huge part in my whole career at Cardiff.

The 32 time-capped Welsh international grew up in Cowbridge and although he ventured to watch the Celtic Warriors in the early days of regional rugby, once he had started playing for Cardiff in the age grade system, there was only ever going to be one team for him.

The overarching emotion for the scrum half is that of pride, having represented the historic club that he has grown up at and represented over several years.

“I have been able to reflect after each season, but it has been nice to have that immediate reaction of support for my career, it meant a lot to me,” added Williams.

“The magnitude of the achievement has really hit me, representing such a historic club.

“I appreciate those who have come before me and passed down the shirt. You only have to walk through the clubhouse and the changing rooms to realise what great players and great people that have represented the club.

“To have played the most games in the professional era is a huge honour for me and my family.”

The 33-year-old scrum half has played with some incredible players, and Williams insists his memories of his career are largely dominated by the incredible people he’s met along the way.

The scrum half remarked:

“It’s funny how the games just come and go”. But there has been plenty of highlights during the 256 appearances Williams has made during his time at Cardiff, including a European Challenge Cup win in 2018.

“Maybe it’s a sign of my age now, but I have quite a few great memories that come to mind when thinking about Cardiff,” added Williams.

“The Welsh derby’s always stick out, I always feel like they have that bit of edge to them, as well as the European games.

“Bilbao certainly sticks out because it felt like we deserved some success that year. We had a brilliant group of people in the team, which made that European Cup win even more special. It’s the people you remember along the way, but big games do tend to stay in your memory as well.

“I remember walking from the hotel to the stadium that day, it was probably a kilometre away. The streets were packed with fans, and having my mother and sister over there was great.

“I couldn’t forget my debut against Leinster and the game against Dragons, which was my first game I played with my brother at the professional level.

“I have been lucky enough to play with some incredible players. There was Ben Blair and Paul Tito who I looked up to when I was younger.

“You also had players like Gethin Jenkins, Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts in the backs, who were all a privilege to play alongside.”

It will be a busy few months as the rugby season comes to its conclusion for Cardiff and Lloyd, who are on the hunt for their first Welsh Shield in the URC.

Cardiff are also currently in a good position to push for a play-off position in the league. But Williams is hoping his sides’ showpiece game against the Ospreys at Judgement Day will see Cardiff realise their potential for winning the Welsh Shield and help them towards securing a play-off spot in the URC.