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Cardiff Blues Select to face RAF in Bleddyn Williams Challenge

First Team News | 21st February 2020

Cardiff Blues will compete in the inaugural Bleddyn Williams Challenge as Royal Air Force Rugby Union celebrate their centenary year at the Arms Park in May.

Both Cardiff Blues and Cardiff Blues Women will field select sides to take on the RAF on Saturday, May 9, in a celebration of 100 years of rugby in the service and the life of the great Bleddyn Williams MBE.

Williams, widely acclaimed as the Prince of Centres, earned legendary status playing in the blue and black of Cardiff RFC during the 1940s and 50s.

He captained the British Lions on their tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1950 and famously led both Cardiff and Wales to victory over the All Blacks in 1953.

During World War Two, Williams trained as a fighter pilot and later became a glider pilot, taking part in the famous Operation VARSITY. Throughout the war years, he continued to excel at rugby both for Great Britain and the RAF.

Cardiff Blues Life President, Peter Thomas said: “First of all it is a real privilege that Cardiff Blues have been selected to play against the RAF and secondly that it’s going to be in the memory of the Prince of Centres, the one and only Bleddyn Williams, whose partnership with Dr Jack Matthews is renowned.

“We’ve had some amazing players throughout the history of Cardiff and Cardiff Blues but supporters will tell you that the partnership of Bleddyn and Jack was special.

“They were wonderful people and Bleddyn, captain of Cardiff, captain of Wales, captain of the British Lions, what a man and what an achievement. He had two clubs, the RAF and Cardiff. He is sadly missed but fondly remembered.

“We are honoured to play this game at the Arms Park. We were privileged to welcome Uruguay for a similar game last season and this promises to be another great occasion.”

While Williams played 283 games for Cardiff and formed a formidable and world famous midfield partnership with Dr Jack Matthews, he also served as president of both Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Athletic Club.

His son, Bleddyn Ashley Williams added: “Cardiff Rugby was his life. It is absolutely unbelievable and I know this would be another pinnacle of his career, knowing the RAF and Cardiff Blues think this much of him - he would be very proud.

“The fact that this game is being played in his name is absolutely brilliant and means a huge amount to the family.”

The fixture takes place on VE Day 75 weekend and a day after Cardiff Blues face Connacht in the Guinness PRO14.

Air Commodore, Adrian Williams, Air Officer Wales added: “Bleddyn Williams is a fantastic connection for the RAF, for Wales and Cardiff Blues. 

“It’s a special year for the RAF with our centenary. We’ve had lots of players from Wales but we’ve also had really strong connections with Cardiff and no one more  than Bleddyn Williams.

“While it’s our RAF centenary, to mark our joint history and  name it after Bleddyn is really special.”

Tickets for the encounter will be available for Monday, March 2.