Choosing a location to propose is often a tough decision for many, but for two Welsh rugby fans there can probably be no better place than the home of Welsh rugby itself: the Principality Stadium.
What about after a gripping game with a team you’ve both been involved with from day one? Even better.
That was the case for Cobra RFC scrum-half Ffion Williams and coach Rhodri Davies, who shared a momentous personal milestone on the turf after 10 years together – six of which have been spent as player and coach. The No. 9 seized the perfect opportunity and popped the question to her boyfriend on Sunday, May 1 – with her runners-up medal!
The Meifod-based club, near Welshpool, made it to the North Wales Cup final on the Road to Principality where they put in a valiant performance against champions Caernarfon, who won 48-10. But the celebrations were far from over at the final whistle.
Ffion, 32, said: “It’s an ongoing joke between me and Rhod that I’ve always said I don’t want to get married and for him not to propose! We’ve been dating for 10 years, we both have a love for rugby and I just thought there’s no better place to do it – the opportunity is there to have this moment.
“I mentioned to a friend a few weeks ago that I was thinking of doing this, I was starting to chicken out in the weeks leading up, but it was a really fab game, the day was fantastic, and I felt the moment was right, let’s go for it.”
Ffion went down on one knee – much to the surprise of the rest of the team, who rarely see public displays of affection between the pair – and got a “yes” from Rhodri before her team-mates mobbed the couple amid wild celebratory scenes.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Rhodri, 34, admitted. “I’m over the moon obviously, but it was absolutely a complete surprise. If you’re going to do it anywhere, that was in her thinking. We were amazed to be able to play in the stadium, and she saw her opportunity.”
“Neither of us actually know what I said!” Ffion laughed. “I didn’t actually have a ring on me, but when they gave me the medal in the box it’s almost replicating a ring in a box!”
Rhodri, a science teacher, joked that the only dry eyes in the house were the happy couple themselves, saying: “Even though we lost, we had the massive high of playing in the stadium. Everyone was in tears and in shock.”
Ffion, an account manager in the meat industry, explained: “They were all welling up. There were people in the crowd welling up. It was quite a special moment for everyone involved. It was a team engagement! They are our second family.
“We know the Caernarfon girls pretty well through RGC, Rhod has coached and I’ve played there. It was lovely to see that, it’s almost a reflection on the game.”
Ffion and Rhodri have known each other since they were children, both having farming backgrounds in rural Wales, while their mums both played netball together. They attended Ysgol Llanfyllin in Powys before hitting it off some years later. “We were on a young farmers’ night out in Newtown and she had a hipflask of port and got me drunk on that and that was it!” Rhodri explains.
As for their rugby journey together, Cobra RFC’s women’s rugby team was first established around six years ago, making outstanding progress by flying high in north Wales competitions before competing in the Welsh Premiership Women’s League this year.
“We started from ground zero and I’ve coached from the start,” Rhodri said. “This year we got a chance to play in Premiership which has been brilliant. We managed to get to the final which was an amazing experience. Ffion was a football player until about six years ago. We started the team and she took to it like a duck to water.”
“We went from almost nothing and friendlies to the Welsh Premiership and it’s a reflection of what Rhod has built as a team,” Ffion added.
The final at the Principality Stadium has rounded off a period of success which thoroughly deserved to be celebrated, with the team and staff heading on a fancy dress night out in Cardiff after the match, dressing up as something which begins with the first letter of their names: Ffion went as a fox, and Rhodri as a rabbit.
“We’ve all lost our voices and everyone is trying to ring us!” Ffion said on Monday. “We are a little bit on cloud nine, it’s been a bit of a frenzy, the whole day was special.”
Cobra RFC said: “Well….what a day to remember. Huge respect to the great squad of players and coaches involved. Super proud is an understatement. These girls are immense and continue to be an inspiration to us all. Very proud club. What an ending to the day.. Also we’d like to extend our congratulations to Ffion and Rhods who added a little surprise for everyone Llongyfarchiadau Ffi ac Rhods”.
“Congratulations to COBRA RFC head coach Rhodri Davies and Ffion Williams,” the stadium said. “Ffion popped the question post match and we couldn’t think of a better place to say yes!”
As for the on-field action, Cobra’s Gemma Robinson went over for the opening try of the game before Caernarfon’s Rhodd Alaw Parry pulled off a beautifully-timed interception which saw her run the length of the field to score under the posts. Kate Davies scored two more before being yellow carded while Mali Jones and Teleri Davies also crossed. Combined with Efa Williams’ boot, Caernarfon led 33-5 at the break. In the second half, Siwan Holloway and Sophie Richards claimed tries for Caernarfon and Cobra’s efforts in the opposition half were rewarded when Adelaide Edwards crashed over. But a resilient defence kept Cobra out despite ferocious attack in the 22 in the dying minutes of the fixture.