In recent years, the English Championship has proven itself to be the perfect place for Welsh players to rediscover their careers after being eliminated by the region.
In 2016, Test scrum-half Kieran Hardy was launched by Scarlets and eventually had to be downgraded one level to play for British second tier outfit Jersey.
But in reality, the Championship provided the perfect level for Hardy to improve his game and earn a second chance with Scarlets.
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The years go by quickly and he is already an established international with 16 caps for Wales.
What would it have been without his time in the British Championship? That’s hard to say but the experienced scrum half has been lyrical in the past about how Jersey has given him the platform to progress.
It has become a favorable path for Welsh players recently, and Wales Under-20 back rower Iestyn Rees, who was recently launched by Scarlets, is keen to follow in Hardy’s footsteps after signing. copper with Ampthill.
“It’s always going to disappoint you when your club tells you they don’t need you anymore,” Rees told WalesOnline.
“I was expecting it though because I didn’t get much use in the first part of the season, and with everything going on with Welsh rugby off the pitch, decisions need to be made. difficult determination.
“It was disappointing when I received the news but I was quite lucky.
“In the week before the Challenge Cup semi-final, I got a phone call from Paul Turner at Ampthill, which was really positive.
“He is keen to put me on the board with Ampthill going to the English Championship for the fifth year in a row. They are an ambitious club and looking to get promoted.
Rees, a sporting striker in the Aaron Shingler mold, has played with the Wales Under-20s team with Taine Basham, Jac Morgan, Rhys Davies, Dewi Lake and Rio Dyer, who have won senior national caps. grant.
His short-term goal is to cement his position on the Ampthill side, but don’t worry about that, he has ambitions to climb back up the professional rugby ladder.
“I would be lying if I said no,” Rees said when asked if his goal is to follow in the footsteps of people like Hardy.
“The British Championship is a very good tournament where you play against very strong opponents.
“People like Kieran Hardy and Tomi Lewis lost a year or two in the British Championship, and look at them now.
“Tomi Lewis has signed back to Scarlets after a great year with Jersey, while Kieran Hardy is now the Wales national team player.
“I’ll see what happens, I’m playing game by game and I’m fully focused on doing well for Ampthill but I would love to one day be back in Wales with an area.
“My goal is to play consistently while performing well, and then help push Ampthill up the charts.
“My goal is to get back to top professional rugby, be it with a region of Wales or even an English Premier League club but to do that I need to try. , worked hard and impressed Ampthill.”
Before leaving the Welsh rugby team, Rees played a key role in Llandovery’s Premiership-winning campaign, which ended in a stunning overall victory over Cardiff.
It was a moment to savor for Rees, but at least his memory of post-match celebrations was a bit hazy.
“No, it was a quiet game!” joked Rees when asked how the players celebrated.
“There was a bus back to Llandovery and all the supporters and the committee were there.
“To be fair, it was a really great night. There were pictures on social media of me doing Alex Goode, out drinking in my full kit.
“We slept in the clubhouse so it was a pretty good night.
“From Llandovery’s perspective, I received a text from Joe Rogers, the team manager, asking if I could come to practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays before the big games.
“I took the opportunity. It’s very special to win the tournament and it’s a great way to say goodbye to Welsh rugby right now.
“Being the best club team in Wales is huge.”
In order to successfully return to the pivotal period, Rees will have to do it the hard way.
While he is a full-time professional at Scarlets, he will work part-time at Ampthill, having to balance work in an auto dealership alongside his rugby.
But Rees just wants to play on a steady basis and is extremely excited to be working with Ampthill head coach Turner, who has an excellent track record in developing young talent.
During his time at Ampthill, the former Dragons boss helped raise the likes of Sam Costelow, Joe Roberts, Ben Earle, Nick Isiekwe and Alex Mitchell.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him and I think he can help me improve as a player,” said Rees.
“I’m still only 23 years old, compared to my rugby career, quite young.
“I’m at that stage in my career where I just need to play week in, week out at a decent level.
“I hope next season with Ampthill I will be able to play rugby consistently under my belt while also improving as a player.
“Work rate is everything for me and I’m really proud of that as a player.
“I’m a good squad operator in attack and defence.
“I would describe myself as more of a muscular back rower than a big runner who likes to run good support lines to finish off the load.
“Growing up, my rugby idol was actually Aaron Shingler so training with him most days was really weird.
“I learned a lot from watching his games and I can say that I have a similar style to him.”