THE mother of a rugby union player from Prestatyn has told of her experiences watching her son make his first appearances for the Welsh national squad’s senior side in South Africa.

Sam Wainwright, 24, replaced injured Leon Brown in head coach Wayne Pivac’s 34-man squad for their three-match tour of South Africa, which lasted from July 2-16.

His mum, Linda, joined him in South Africa at all three matches; and after not featuring in the first, a 32-39 defeat in Pretoria in July 2, he played 15 minutes in the second, a 13-12 win in Bloemfontein on July 9, and the full second half in the third, a 30-14 loss in Cape Town on July 16.

And the second game proved a momentous occasion, not only because Sam made his Wales debut, but because it was the first Welsh win on South African soil at the 12th attempt.

Sam, who has yet to start his first top-flight game of rugby, won a penalty that led to a try, then held the scrum as the game neared its end.

Rhyl Journal: Sam after playing for Wales in his South Africa. Photo: Linda WainwrightSam after playing for Wales in his South Africa. Photo: Linda Wainwright

This was also the only game of the three that Sam’s mum and dad (Shaun) were joined by his fiancée, Ellie, and her dad, Andy.

In the third game, despite Wales’ loss, Sam managed to win a penalty from the first scrum of the second half.

Having cancelled his holiday, and worked tirelessly in his career, his mum was bursting with pride in him.

Linda said: “It was amazing, unbelievable. They (Welsh squad) were all absolutely fantastic with him, and took him under their wing. They’re such a lovely bunch of lads, there’s something special about them.

“We (Linda and Shaun) went to all three games. We were sat around lots of South African fans, and they were absolutely made up for us (when Sam made his debut), as well.

“They were high-fiving and hugging us, and saying how well Sam had done; they were so lovely, there was no animosity.

“To make history, having never won on South African soil, and for Sam to have held the scrum, before we got the try and then later the conversion, was fantastic for him. It was unbelievable.

“The result (in the third game) wasn’t what we wanted, but he held his own, and did his best.”


‘I’m overwhelmed’ - mum of rugby player from Prestatyn after first Wales call-up

Sam, a prop who began his career at Rhyl Rugby Club before moving on to Rygbi Gogledd Cymru (RGC – North Wales Rugby), joined Saracens in May 2019, and represented Wales at under-20s level in their Six Nations campaign in 2018.

Last month, prior to Wales’ tour of South Africa, Linda told the Journal: “He’s never drank, he never goes out, he’s always given everything towards what he wants to do.

“He’s always been humble and grounded, as well; he’s never blown his own trumpet, and done anything that anyone’s ever asked him to do.

“His journey has been hard, but amazing. At some points, he could have easily thought about giving up, but he’s kept so focused and so mentally strong.

“We’ve always believed in him. I’m so proud.”