Dragons captain Rhodri Williams took a well-earned break from his team’s European preparations this week to ascend one of Wales’ most famous structures.
Atop Newport’s iconic Transporter Bridge, the man from Ammanford spoke to WRU TV about his life in rugby. Capped three times between 2013 and 2014, Williams had already shown his capabilities in international colours as part of the U20 side that reached the Junior World Championship final in 2013 (where he partnered regional half-back partner Sam Davies).
Williams has led the region to some notable results recently, impressing by example. Of his appointment as skipper, he said: “We’ve got quite a strong senior squad. I think the captaincy is just a tag. I thoroughly enjoy [the role], but I couldn’t do it without the senior boys like Sam, who controls the side as 10, then you’ve got the experience of Hibbs [Richard Hibbard] in the front row, and then someone like Elliot Dee whose international honours speak for themselves.”
With views spanning across the entire city and much further afield, Williams pointed out Rodney Parade in the near distance. “The way things are at the moment it’s just disappointing that we can’t have crowds in Rodney,” said the 27-year-old. “It’s an old-fashioned stadium where the crowd is right on top of you. It’s not the biggest of stadiums, but when it’s full you could be in front of 30-40,000. It just shows the passion of the region.”
Also clearly visible from the bridge is the Bristol Channel, across which the Dragons will today travel to Ashton Gate, where Williams spent two happy seasons. “I loved my time in Bristol. Our first year in the Prem was tough – we lost the majority of our games, but you learn from those experiences. It’ll be a fun time on Friday.”
The Transporter Bridge has a long and storied history, and was originally built in the early 1900s to ensure steel workers didn’t have to make the four-mile walk to the mills. (The gondola crossing across the River Usk takes only 90 seconds from bank to bank.) When it was officially opened in 1906, it heralded the first major event to be filmed in Newport.
It is one of only six transporter bridges in the world still in operation, making it a rare architectural jewel in Wales’ crown.
Those wishing to follow in Williams’s footsteps and climb the 270-odd steps to the top of the bridge have until Sunday 27th September to do so, with extensive restoration in the pipeline meaning it will remain closed to the public until Spring 2023.
Visit the Newport Transporter Bridge website here.