Sam Scarfe Wales Under 20’s Hopes To Continue The Pontypool Front Row Legacy

Harry Corish - Sportin Journalist

Sam Scarfe Hopes To Continue The Pontypool Front Row Legacy . . . As He Looks To Make An Impact For Wales Under 20’s

I spoke to Sam Scarfe at Wales’ Under 20’s press conference ahead of their fixture against Scotland.

10.02.23 (WRU image) Scotland U20s v Wales U20s – U20s 6 Nations Championship – Sam Scarfe

Under 20’s hooker, Sam Scarfe, represents a traditional ideal of rugby in Wales. In the days before professional rugby players would often represent their local communities before regional rugby came into place in 2003, before Sam was born.

After the sad passing of Tony ‘Charlie’ Faulkner, one third of the revered Pontypool Front Row, it almost seems poetic that Scarfe and Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths are continuing the legacy of that great front row, for club and country.

The Dragons youngster is learning pretty quickly about senior rugby, as he currently cuts his teeth while playing for Pontypool in the WRU Championship.

Scarfe has enjoyed proving himself in men’s rugby and insists the Pontypool front row is back better than ever, as he lines up alongside fellow Dragons Academy and Pontypool front rower Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths for the famous Pooler and Wales under 20’s.

The Pontypool front row of Graham Price, Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner were a bit gnarlier and nastier than the current crop coming through, but Scarfe has clearly taken on those clear Pontypool values during his time at the club.

Scarfe and Kelleher-Griffiths are certainly on the right tracks to emulate the “Viet Gwent” of the 70’s as they represent Wales in the Under 20’s Six Nations.

The 20-year-old said:

“It’s a great milestone to aim for. It is a huge moment to pull on that Pontypool jersey, the ‘Pontypool Front Row’ are so famous and are known across the rugby world. So, just to be associated with them in a way is massive.

“Obviously I want to keep that legacy going, the young boys are coming through, we want to take that mantra on and get even better.”

There seems to be a growing trend in Welsh rugby, with converted backrow players making a big impact at hooker.

The 20-year-old has scored eight tries in 19 appearances for ‘Pooler’ since making the difficult move forward from the backrow to the front row, but the youngster looks set to replicate the success of Ospreys and Wales’ Dewi Lake, who has made a big impact on the international scene for Wales.

“I started as a backrower at Sengenydd before moving to Penallta. I was then involved in Dragons 16s and their academy. I then played for Coleg Gwent where we won the Schools and Colleges Cup in 2020,” added Scarfe.

“I am proud to play for Pontypool in the Championship, the Pontypool front row is back at it, like! There’s a bit of pressure on the shoulders, so you’ve just got to take it a game at a time.”

The Welsh under 20’s have recently caught the headlines for their exciting back play, but Scarfe and co have been playing a crucial role, allowing the backs to get that front-foot ball they crave.

“The backs have been great, and full credit to them they are dangerous on the ball, and they have scored some pretty mental tries,” the hooker added.

“But it all starts with the pack, if we keep up our work up front, we are the deciding factor if they get front foot ball, which makes their job a lot easier.

“We are gaining a lot of experience about how international rugby works and playing in front of big crowds. We have seen what home support can do for you but also what it is like to play away from home, with the crowd against you.”

Playing alongside grizzled and experienced men in the Championship has certainly been an eyeopener for young Scarfe but from a development perspective the young hooker is developing nicely.

“I like playing at this level a lot, a lot of people underestimate you. They look at you and your age and think they can walk all over you. But when you go out and go for it you earn their respect.

“Playing with these older head has really helped, they know all the dark arts, it’s great to be taught by all of them. Some of them are horrible, if im being honest but it’s all great for my development.

“Some of the things I’ve been taught you definitely can’t use at this level. But it’s great to know some of the stuff, it’s been great learning the past year or two, I really appreciate the support I’ve received across all the levels.”