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Scarlets, Coaches and Wine

Sporting Wine Club is proud and privileged to be part of the Scarlets long and distinguished rugby history. Most notably in supplying their two commemorative wines, the 9-3 (celebrating the famous win over the All Blacks) and the 1872 (the year of Llanelli’s foundation).

At the recent 50th Anniversary dinner, the legendary Derek Quinnell who played in that incredible win talked about the pre-match preparation. While the world applauds the great coach Carwyn James, quite rightly, Derek mentioned one other name which had me applauding in agreement. Tom Hudson, ex Olympic Pentathlete and SAS, was in charge of their strength and conditioning. A visionary man who drove the Scarlets to International fitness standards and there was Derek handing him major credit for their performance.

I had a sense of déjà vu. Bath had won three successive knock out cups and two league championships and was brimming with international talent. But the competition was closing in on us. Jack Rowell, Bath’s coach, held a pre-training meeting and Tom was introduced to the squad. He suggested politely that we weren’t fit enough and that he would give us a new dimension. So it began, we grumbled at first but soon realised he had something special to offer us. I would not include in that an SAS-led trek over the Brecon Beacons which I had the good fortune to miss, and from which one or two of the squad including Jack almost failed to return.

Over time he created the mantra, ‘it may be good enough for England but not for Bath’. The International side was underperforming year by year and Tom thought the Bath side would have beaten them on their own! Through an intense training regime he unveiled, it was designed to make us the best we could be in the last 20 minutes of a match. We often ended sessions almost unable to walk. He guaranteed us it would pay off. 

He was right -I lost count of the times we put away some of the greatest sides in the land who after an hour were in the game but ended up losing by 20 points or more. He resigned after seeing us beat a fancied Gloucester side by 50 points in the blazing sun at Twickenham in the 1992 Pilkington Cup. It was a staggering performance which has never been repeated on that scale by any team since. On the return coach trip, amidst the champagne and the nostalgia (my last ever game for Bath), he looked at me and said ‘ My job is finished here, there is nothing left to do.’ I felt exactly the same way and neither of us were seen in Bath colours ever again.

He was a true visionary of his age and indeed any age, living now quietly in West Wales.

Please buy these amazing wines and support the Scarlets Community Foundation who direct much needed funds into grassroots rugby in Wales.

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