Gerwyn Price: When the PDC World Champion played professional rugby league for South Wales Scorpions
It was the evening of Saturday, January 2 when Dave Clark was contacted by a friend in Cumbria, where he now makes his home, asking if he remembered one of his old players by the name of Gerwyn Price.
Up until that point, the Australia-born former Wales international had no idea what had become of the young forward who had come from rugby union to play the 13-man code under him at South Wales Scorpions in 2013.
So, it came as something of shock when he discovered Price was on the verge of being crowned as champion at the 2021 PDC World Darts Championship.
? FINAL / GEM DERFYNOL
When @Gezzyprice played twice @ScorpionsRugbyL #rugbyleague in 2013, he earned about £300 a game.
?Tonight he'll net half a million if wins the @WilliamHill @OfficialPDC #WorldDartsChampionship
? 7.30pm @SkySportsDarts
?Pob lwc Gerwyn#LoveTheDarts pic.twitter.com/BrH3OwyCyf
“I got a text message off someone who lives locally to me saying ‘do you remember this player?’,” Clark told Sky Sports.
“I said ‘Yeah, I do – why?’ and he said ‘Oh, he’s in the final tomorrow of the World Darts Championship’. I said, ‘You’re joking!’.
“Then someone got in touch and said he’d won it and I was like ‘Oh my God!’.”
Price was good enough at rugby union to have represented his county at age-group level and be capped by Wales’ U21s as well as earning a short loan spell with Glasgow Warriors in what was then the PRO12. Arguably the crowning moment, however, came when he helped Cross Keys triumph in the 2012 Swalec Cup final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Massive congratulations to @Gezzyprice , from all at the keys, on the edge of our seats, #PDCWorldDartsChampion #no1 #Iceman pic.twitter.com/PaJKPewRHQ
Barely two years later, though, he would earn a PDC tour card, having attended Q School on the urging of Welsh professional darts player Barrie Bates after impressing him with his performances in local competitions for Markham Welfare and then Aberbargoed.
That led to the hooker turning his back on his professional rugby ambitions at the end of 2014 and set him on the path which would eventually lead to him being crowned world champion at the start of this month.
“I didn’t fulfil my rugby potential,” Price told Sky Sports in an interview ahead of the 2019 PDC World Darts Championship when reflecting on his rugby career.
“I used to like to go out when I was younger; I would go out and have a few beers then go training on Sunday which probably wasn’t the best thing to do.
I didn’t fulfil my rugby potential. I used to like to go out when I was younger; I would go out and have a few beers then go training on Sunday which probably wasn’t the best thing to do.
“I sort of learnt from that you can’t mess about when you want to be a full-time professional, and that’s why I give it 100 percent in darts because I missed the boat when I was playing rugby.”
Price arrived at Championship One outfit South Wales in the June prior to going to Q School already having some league experience from amateur level under his belt alongside his union exploits and was used mostly as an impact player off the interchange bench.
Clark, who guided Barrow Raiders to Championship glory in 2009 and later coached Workington Town as well, remembers him as someone who had the strength and power to succeed as a prop in the 13-man code, as well as the mental toughness the role requires.
Price’s professionalism at training shone through too, although Clark recalls him as one of the quieter members of the team as opposed to the bold and brash personality the 35-year-old has on the oche which has made him something of a pantomime villain in the world of darts.
He wasn’t really a boisterous person at training, he was quiet, just got on with his job and was really professional in what he did.
Former South Wales head coach Dave Clark on Gerwyn Price
“He wasn’t really a boisterous person at training, he was quiet, just got on with his job and was really professional in what he did,” Clark said.
“He played through the middle, so his mentality was quite tough, and he was strong to handle the contact and physicality of the game. He was a great kid, pleasant and a really good professional.
“Someone was telling me about him playing darts who’d watched him a few times and said he liked a bit of banter and likes to wind up the other players – how funny is that?”
Ultimately, Price only made a handful of appearances for the Neath-based Scorpions – now making their home in Llanelli and playing under the banner of West Wales Raiders – before returning to rugby union for a final spell at Cross Keys.
Clark laughs at the thought he has played a small part on the Welshman’s unorthodox route to the being crowned a world champion at a completely different sport, but is delighted to see Price’s decision to switch to darts has paid off.
“He’s taken a good career path and a positive one,” Clark said. “World Darts Champion in seven years? That’s unbelievable and what a great story it is for him.
“To go from rugby union to rugby league then back to rugby union, then go to something like darts, it’s not like a team sport.
“It’s quite singular in that you’re your own responsibility, your focus is more individual and if you make a mistake it’s more on yourself rather than collectively as a team.
“He’s gone in a totally different direction from a team sport, and it just shows what you can do when you focus and concentrate. Look what’s he’s done for himself – it’s fantastic.”
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