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Fish hoping for final crowning moment as Cardiff RFC target the double

First Team News | 19th May 2023

Cardiff cult hero Dan Fish is hoping for one final crowning moment before he officially hangs up his playing boots.

However, the experienced back has been ruled out of Saturday’s Premiership final against Llandovery with a broken wrist suffered on the final day of the regular season. Instead, the 32-year-old will be confined to experiencing the game from the coaching box as he continues to make strides in his post-playing career within the academy.

As Fish signs off on his playing days at the Arms Park, there is no doubt that the Tremorfa native has cemented his place amongst the Blue and Blacks’ leading cult heroes. 

With flair, creativity and spontaneity in abundance - as well as plenty of wit and a Cardiff charm away from the field - the utility back always managed to put smiles on faces of spectators when he took to the field.

Having secured a rare feat of becoming a centurion for both the first team and the Rags, Fish admits it’s been an honour to don the famous blue and black jersey in a career which exceeded his wildest dreams.

TICKETS - Cardiff v Llandovery - Indigo Group Premiership final, Cardiff Arms Park, Sunday 21 May (KO 5.15pm)

The fan favourite said: “I’ve always said since I joined the club on day one, it was always a dream of mine to play one game for Cardiff but I’ve been fortunate to play 100 for the first team and 100 for the RFC.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. The highs of playing week-in, week-out, the lows of injuries and I’ll always be thankful to the club for the opportunity they gave me.

“With the boots finally on the peg, hopefully I can go into my next adventure and hit the ground running in the same way as my playing career and help this next group of players to achieve their dream.

“It’s important that you enjoy yourself. It’s been a luxury for me to play rugby as a job, and you have to enjoy every second of that.

“Don’t get me wrong, when you turn up to work day-in, day-out you’re not always going to have a smile on your face but I’ve always been fortunate to have a good group of boys around the place where we can pick each other up.

“Getting that smile on your face makes it a whole lot easier than doom and gloom, and that’s the most important thing for me. It creates a good environment for you.”

The playmaker has once again been instrumental to Cardiff RFC’s successes this season. Steve Law’s side lifted the Premiership cup with a dramatic win over Newport last month, and after topping the table in the regular season, will be hoping to make it a silverware double in front of their home crowd.

While Fish is naturally disappointed to miss out on the finale against Llandovery through injury, he insists he will be doing his utmost as a coach to ensure the Blue and Blacks are celebrating once again come Sunday: “I’m obviously gutted to miss the semi final and the final, but I’ve been delighted to see the boys winning the cup and finishing top of the table this season. 

“However, we finished top of the table but we get nothing for that. To get our name in the history books we have to win this game on the weekend. 

“It’s been a long season, 22 games in all, but finishing at the top of the table just earns you a tap on the back, thank you very much and nothing more unless we win on Sunday.

“It’s a big game for us on the weekend and it will be a big occasion. Hopefully we have a big crowd here to get behind the boys.

“As far as pressure is concerned, every game has pressure. When you put that blue and black kit on there is always a pressure to perform.

“There are people who have played before us and people who will represent this club in the future, everyone has to know what wearing that jersey means.

“Every team in the league loves to play against Cardiff. No matter what they say, when the fixtures are released at the start of the season the first thing they look for is when they play against Cardiff.

“It’s a massive honour to play for Cardiff and wherever you go in this league it’s always a tough game because that team will always be desperate to beat Cardiff. We always have a target on our back.

“We’ve stepped up to the plate this season and finished top of the league. But the work’s not done until we’ve got our name written on that trophy.

“Two years ago, when I semi-retired from professional rugby and took a coaching role with the academy and the RFC, I had 100 games for the first team. 

“I started playing with a really good group of boys for the RFC, really enjoying it and that hunger still burns inside of you, the competitiveness was still there. So I kept playing as much as I could.

“Just to let people know, I wasn’t picking myself, that was down to Steve Law. 

“The fight was still there though and this year someone made me aware that I could reach 100 games for the RFC too, and only one person had done that before me. When that target came to light, that was something I wanted to achieve and to get that was great. Unfortunately I’ve missed out on the semi final and final due to this broken wrist but that’s part and parcel of playing rugby.

“I’ll be doing everything I can on the coaching side to get these boys ready for Sunday. I’ll prepare as well as I can and hopefully the boys will go out and perform like we’ve done all year and come away with the trophy.”

Taking hold of the number 10 jersey in Fish’s absence is Cardiff youngster Harrison James. The former CAVC is one of 10 academy youngsters involved in the matchday 23, signalling the Rags’ commitment to provide regular playing opportunities for the next generation.

Helping those youngsters come through as an academy coach is Fish’s passion and he’s delighted to see them shine this season.

“Harrison stepped up to the plate last weekend and was very good, very composed and we want the same again this weekend,” adds the homegrown product.

“Part of my job is to bring this next crop of young boys through. We’ve had a few playing regularly for Cardiff RFC this year and Harrison is another off the production line. Hopefully he can keep his head down, keep working hard and have a long and successful career here at Cardiff.

“I’ve had a love for rugby. Rugby has been my life and I’m thankful for Cardiff and Vale College and Glamorgan Wanderers for giving me the first opportunities in coaching. When I was a young boy, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after rugby but they gave me the opportunity to start a coaching career.

“I enjoyed those experiences and it’s led me down this path now. To be coaching Cardiff RFC means as much to me as playing. 

“As the boys will tell you, I’m very passionate and I try to put their interests and the team’s interests first. That’s my job.

“I get my satisfaction now from working hard behind the scenes and those boys receiving the plaudits on the field. For the younger boys, I just want to help them develop and learn so when they run out on the Arms Park, playing for Cardiff and making their dreams coming to life, that’s when I’ll get my joy.”

From milestones to memorable wins, there have been plenty of highlights for Fish during his playing career.

But one that stands out in particular was the famous Heineken Champions Cup double header in 2021.

With the majority of Cardiff’s first team stars stranded in South Africa due to the Omicron outbreak, a misfit side of internationals, academy and semi professionals admirably took on Toulouse and Harlequins.

Fish and his team-mates captured the hearts of the rugby community, and it’s a fortnight that will live long in the memory: “As I’ve previously said, every time you put the Cardiff jersey on you’ve got a responsibility on your shoulders.

“Looking back at those two weeks, where the boys were unfortunately stuck in South Africa, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience both on and off the field.

“We had a group of top international players, semi professional players and a few coaches filling in. We gelled well together off the pitch over those two weeks, and that showed on the pitch.

“The crowd got behind us massively at home against Toulouse and a week later away to Harlequins.

“There were no pressures on those games, so we couldn’t really lose, but the crowd really got behind us and we came away with some credibility.

“That fortnight will go down in the history books of the whole club, not just stay in the memories of those involved - the misfits came out to play!”

Tickets for Cardiff RFC v Llandovery are available now at exclusive online prices. Entry is included as part of current Cardiff RFC and Cardiff Rugby Season Memberships.