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Home / Latest News / PE teacher who taught Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale recalls ‘particularly strong year’

PE teacher who taught Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale recalls ‘particularly strong year’

For British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton and new PFA Player of the Year Gareth Bale, this week will live with them for the rest of their lives.

But it is the achievement of the Cardiff school where the pair studied and played sport alongside one another that is unlikely to ever be matched.

Yesterday, teachers at Whitchurch High School in the north of the city watched on as old boy Warburton was named the youngest ever British and Irish Lions captain.

It came just two days after fellow Whitchurch alumni Bale became just the third ever footballer to win both the young and senior PFA Player of the Year Awards.

The success of the pair is made all the more remarkable by the fact they were in the same year – and very same GCSE class – at Whitchurch.

And they were by no means the only talented sportsmen there.

Classmate Elliot Kear now plays for the Bradford Bulls Rugby League team and is yet another Welsh international.

The man who taught Bale and Warburton PE told WalesOnline of his pride in the pair.

Gwyn Morris said it was their hard work, dedication and commitment – allied with their natural ability – which had made the young friends pillars of their respective sports.

Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale during their Whitchurch High days
Sam Warburton and Gareth Bale during their Whitchurch High days

 

The 44-year-old, originally from Porthmadog, said: “It was a particularly strong year. There must have been over 10 internationals in that year group itself between Rugby Union, Rugby League and Gareth playing a very high standard with Southampton as well.

“They were an exceptionally talented year group and pushed each other, aspiring to be the best they could.

“The thing with both of them is they had that dedication, commitment and attitude as well as ability.

“The ability was a small part of the equation and the sacrifice these guys were doing in order to achieve what they achieve.

“That’s what got them to where they are today.”

Mr Morris said Warburton and Bale played rugby and football together in younger years.

He said despite Bale having signed forms with Southampton, he always threw himself into school sport.

“That’s what was special,” he said.

“He was with Southampton and they encouraged him to do all the sports for school.

“Gareth did cross country, athletics, hockey, football and rugby. He even volunteered for the U16s rugby B team.

“They all had great pride in playing for school and that’s what makes it very special when we see them being so successful.”

Sam Warburton has been named Lions captain, while Gareth Bale is PFA Player of the Year
Sam Warburton has been named Lions captain, while Gareth Bale is PFA Player of the Year

 

Mr Morris said teachers had debated putting a bet on Warburton playing for Wales when he was at school but in the end, regrettably, never did.

He said while there had been plenty of talk about the former classmates earning major accolades this year, he wanted it confirmed before celebrating.

“I don’t believe anything until it’s in black and white,” he said.

“When I saw Gareth had won both the young and senior PFA Player of the Year Awards as voted by his peers and then heard it on the radio that Sam was captain of the Lions, it’s a very special moment for the department and school.

“It’s a fantastic feeling – you have helped a little bit to develop an individual that’s aspiring to reach targets and goals in life.”

Both Warburton and Bale still keep in touch with the school and their former PE teacher.

Bale has donated shirts and opened a power league while earlier today, Mr Morris sent former pupil Warburton a congratulatory text on the latest achievement in his glittering career.

He said: “I text Sam today to say how happy I was. I can imagine he was quite busy today.

“With Sam I speak reasonably often or text. He lives in Cardiff so I see him a bit more than I do Gareth.

“It’s always nice when they are on the phone or pop back into school and say hello.

“It’s inspirational for other students.

“They can say: ‘we can do this because someone fro my school has done it.’”

And he is in no doubt that this June, Warburton will continue to do the school proud.

“He’s a modest young man who does his talking on the field of play,” he added.

“He will lead by example in Australia on and off the field and I’m certain the rest of the squad will buy into him, his captaincy and support him.

“You are talking in the same breath as people as Willie John McBride and Paul O’Connell and he’s one of them.”

Meanwhile, in school, while they already have a hall of fame, they are being forced to make room for another category of ex-pupil thanks largely to the achievements of the two classmates from Cardiff.

“We have a hall of fame in school,” Mr Morris said.

“Now, we are developing a full international hall of fame.”

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