Win Glenn Webbe’s terrific autobiography

Glenn Webbe may have played ten Tests for Wales but he enjoyed sevens more than 15s. So much so, in fact, that he went to the trouble of setting up his own sevens team. Called The Welshmen, he was able to call on fantastic talent such as David Bishop, Gary Pearce, Mark Ring, Paul Turner and Gerald Cordle for tournaments across the UK.

The former Bridgend and Wales wing talks about the team in his excellent autobiography – you can read a review of the book here.

Further down this article, you have the opportunity to try to win a copy of the book in our competition. By way of a taster, here’s a story about one of the most memorable Welshmen outings – a bank holiday weekend tournament in Newcastle upon Tyne…

Wales players at the 1987 World Cup

Gang of four: Webbe with Jonathan Davies, John Devereux and Mark Ring at the 1987 World Cup

Webbe writes: “Sir John Hall hadn’t long taken over Newcastle and there was beginning to be some decent money in the game. We had won the Caldy Sevens the day before, up on Merseyside, and had shared £5,000 in prize money. It was fantastic.

We had a brilliant squad packed with Bridgend players, including Owain Williams, Jason Forster, Andrew Williams, Matthew Lewis, Gareth Thomas, Dafydd James, Ian Greenslade and me. We had also attracted a sponsor, some landed English businessman who wanted us to do the rounds, visit a school and go to bed early – but that didn’t happen. We were there to play rugby and that’s it.

Newcastle were in one side of the draw and Northampton the other and, while it wasn’t fixed, it became obvious that the organisers wanted the two to meet in the final. We were just some also-rans but were putting 30 or 40 points on teams; we were playing fantastic stuff.

We reached the semi-finals but had lost some players. The tournament’s rules said that if you needed a replacement, and another team had already been eliminated, then you could use one of their players. I know this because we asked an official.

Glenn Webbe

Three feathers: the player was proud to represent Wales

Cardiff were up there but had been knocked out, so we borrowed their winger Steve Ford, and beat Northampton to reach the final. Our sponsor was over the moon; we had put his company on the map and he took everything back he’d said about us being a bunch of wasters.

As we waited to take the field for the final, they announced on the Tannoy that there would be a 15-minute delay. Then this official came up to us and told us we had been disqualified.

They then put out another announcement saying that, due to the use of an ineligible player, The Welshmen were taking no further part in the tournament. They said it was because we had played Steve Ford when he wasn’t eligible.

I said, “You’re joking. We cleared it with you before picking him.”

“No you didn’t,” said the official. I couldn’t believe it and called him an absolute liar.

We were gutted, not so much because we couldn’t play in the final but because there was £10,000 in prize money on offer for the winners and £5,000 for the runners-up.

Bridgend celebrate beating Australia in 1981

Famous day: jubilant after Bridgend’s 12-6 win against Australia in October 1981. Webbe was 19 at the time

Now, we had out kit bags with us, as we had planned a quick getaway straight after the game, and I came up with an idea. “Follow me boys,” I said. “If we’re not going to be in the final, then there’s not going to be a final. We’re going to sit in protest on the halfway line.”

And we all walked out to the centre of the field and sat down with our kit bags. The official stared at us and then walked over and said, “I’m going to call the police.”

Glenn Webbe

Space odyssey: Glenn Webbe today at The Kitchen Bureau, the retailer that he set up in Cardiff

“Go on then,” I replied, and he stormed off. By then, the large crowd had noticed our protest and a slow handclap began to ring out around the ground. ‘Oh dear,’ I thought, ‘the crowd are turning on us now.’

But we had been playing such good rugby, the crowd were on our side. The next thing we knew, they started chanting, “Let them play! Let them play!”

Then all the la-di-das in the hospitality marquees came running onto the field, with their G&Ts in hand, and sat down forming a huge circle around us in support.

Eventually the organisers came over and said, “Okay, there’s been a mistake but you have to abide by the decision.”

“But there’s at least £5,000 at stake here,” I said. So they had a little conflab and came back and said, “If we give you the £5,000, will you go home?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Okay, will you come off now?”

“I’ve got a better idea,” I said. “Why don’t you go and get the money first?”

They went to get the money and counted it out, there and then on the field, and we left with a lap of honour with the crowd cheering.

Glenn Webbe book cover

The only downside was that Northampton, who we had dusted in the semi-final, beat Newcastle in that final. So we could have doubled our money.

Needless to say, we weren’t invited back the following year but we won the Henley Sevens instead and that also had a £10,000 prize.”

Glenn Webbe: The Gloves Are Off is published by Y Lolfa, RRP £9.99, and you can buy it here.

We have six copies to give away in a competition. For a chance to win one, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Tuesday 14 April.

Wales star: this man played with Webbe before captaining his country – but who is he? (Getty)

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Terms and conditions

The competition closes at 11.59pm on Tuesday 14 April 2020.

Six winners will be selected at random, each winning a copy of Glenn Webbe’s autobiography, ’The Gloves Are Off’.

Normal TI Media Limited competition rules apply. Competition details form part of these terms and conditions. Entry is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland except employees (and their families) of TI Media Limited, its printers and agents, the suppliers of the prizes and any other companies associated with the competitions. The winners must be aged 18 or over. Proof of identity and age may be required. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void. The prizes are as stated, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers’ terms and conditions. The promoters reserve the right to amend or alter the terms of competitions and reject entries from entrants not entering into the spirit of the competition. The winner agrees to the use of his or her name, photograph and disclosure of county of residence and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests by TI Media Limited relating to any post-winning publicity. The winners will be chosen from all correct entries received by the closing date stated within the promotional material. Winners will be confirmed in writing. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact a winner. Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize. If they cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random. Where applicable, the decision of the judges is final based on the criteria set out in the promotion and no correspondence will be entered into over this decision. Competitions may be modified or withdrawn at any time. The Service Provider and contact details are specified within the promotional material. When you enter this competition you are consenting to be added to the regular MBR newsletters and that TI Media Limited and its partners may contact you about relevant products or services and research via email. You can opt out at any time via the unsubscribe messages in the emails you are sent.

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