This week we chat to Chris Shousha, who played an integral role in Fishguard & Goodwick RFC’s promotion to Division Two (West), about his previous involvement in the game, and his targets for next season...

Rugby might still seem a long way distant to most people but some teams will be looking to start training soon - and Chris Shousha is already working hard on his own in preparation for the challenge of playing open-side flanker in a higher division with Fishguard and Goodwick RFC.

Every club needs a potent ball-winner in loose play and at the moment there is no better exponent of the art than Chris, who featured highly as a try-scorer with the Seagulls last campaign in Division Three (West) B and is eager to repeat that feat in Division Two (West).

As well as being a natural 'pirate' who uses his speed to get to the break-down and snatch the opposition's possession on the ground, Chris is also an opportunist try scorer with his ability to support others, and to stay on his feet after attempted tackles from surprised opponents.

Ask Chris about his start in the game and he would tell you,

"I tried football and cricket as a nipper in the South of England but lacked the co-ordination for either and since we lived in Bath my mother took me along to the famous Recreation Ground, and learned some basic skills in their minis and junior sections."

When Chris moved to Fishguard as a 12 year old he attended Ysgol Bro Gwaun and he went along to The Moors to try his luck with the Junior Seagulls.

"I wasn't the most skillful player and I was quite small and podgy so I started off as a hooker in a team coached by Steve Morgans and Phil Griffiths.

"But what I lacked in raw talent I made up for by being prepared to work hard and listen to advice - so that by the time I was in the under 15s I had lost weight, switched to the back row and enjoying every moment of my involvement.

"I was lucky to play in a very good team that included James Griffiths, Owain and Rhodri Morgans, Ryan McVeigh, Rhys Lewis and Mike Jenkins, who all did so well last season in the first team - and as teenagers we won the Pembrokeshire Schools' League after being runners-up the previous campaign."

From there Chris moved on to youth rugby, where he was vice-captain to Rhys Morgans, who went on to play rugby league with the Welsh Colleges. Chris carried on playing for the Seagulls' Youth, coached by Jonathan 'JJ' Jones and his all-action play saw him chosen for the 'Players' Player of the Year' and 'Young Player of the Year' awards.

"JJ' was one of the most patient coaches I have ever met - he was always constructive and never critical as he was assisted by 'Jimmy Bach’. It was also a help that we were all good friends and played well for each other."

From there it was on to Loughborough University, where he gained a 2.1 (Hons) degree in Human Biology.

"I was keen to play rugby there but the high standard was a real eye opener, so I ended up playing for Loughborough RFC, which was more or less the same standard as back home.

"We played against the likes of Hinckley RFC and other teams from South Leicestershire, and I also played for the Loughborough All Stars, who had other players not quite good enough for the college first XV - and I was delighted the first time I was given the 'Man of the Match' award."

Chris also used to come home whenever he could to play for Fishguard and admits that he will never forget the time that the Seagulls made it to the Millennium Stadium for the Swalec Bowl before losing to a strong Wattstown side.

"I played in a couple of the early rounds and was chosen on the bench for the big day, which saw almost the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the club's blue and white colours at the game.

"Going in to the stadium and changing rooms was amazing and I will never forget walking out on to the pitch, especially for the likes of Randall Williams, Huw Evans, Steve and Nathan Jenkins and Romeo Colella having their reward for all that they had done for the club.

"I had 20 minutes at the end and really enjoyed the experience, but we were shattered to lose against a team which dominated physically in the second half.

"But once we had a talk in the changing room and realised how well we had raised the profile of Pembrokeshire Rugby as the first Pembrokeshire club to play at the Millennium Stadium -

we celebrated in typical Seagulls' style.

Chris and Co were also disappointed at the start of last season to find Fishguard and Goodwick RFC in Division Three (West) B of the WRU set-up but they responded in the right way by winning all but one of their games with an all-action plan that saw them amass huge scores, other than one deserved defeat at Milford Haven.

"I felt I didn't win enough quality ball in that match but we had to be ready to take defeat on the chin and it was the kick up the backside we needed at a key time.

"We had already beaten The Mariners at home and in the other games we played to our potential and are now geared up for a real tough set of games next season.

"We know every match is going to be tougher than last campaign but that is why I'm starting to get fit now, as are some of the other boys.

At the moment Chris is kept busy in his work at Castle School, where his duties include working with pupils in games activities, and he is enjoying his involvement there as well as at The Moor.

Head coach Huw Evans, no mug at assessing players, told us,

"Chris is very fit and uses his natural pace to good effect in supporting other players. He is a natural ball carrier, tackles well and is adept at getting back on his feet after being tackled, and although he had had a couple of lean spells will always score more than his fair share of tries because of his support play. Above all he is a hard trainer and an excellent team player."

Randall Williams, a forward of immense experience, added,

"If he is playing well we will always go forward because others feed off him - and he has learned ball retention, and how to stay focussed up front from brothers Steve and Nathan Jenkins.”

We need to say no more after such high praise from two excellent exponents of rugby and can only wish Chris Shousha many years more in the back row, hopefully winning good ball and scoring tries aplenty, for Fishguard and Goodwick RFC.