This week Bill Carne met up with Mike King, who is already looking forward to the new rugby season as the Regional Rugby Co-ordinator for Pembrokeshire with the Welsh Rugby Union, where he links up with the hub officers in local schools in a shared remit of promoting the sport with children . . .

Mike King enjoyed a very full 2016/17season with his involvement in Pembrokeshire Rugby and has had a busy summer in readiness for the next campaign in his role with the Welsh Rugby Union as the Regional Rugby Co-ordinator for Pembrokeshire.

Mike works out of the regional office at Carmarthen Athletic but is very much focussed on this county as he works with the hub officers whose job it is to promote the game at every opportunity.

To this end he can call upon his experience as a talented young sportsman who was the first to play for the Welsh Schools in rugby and cricket when he was a student at Queen Elizabeth Maridunum School in Carmarthen.

Mike now works alongside the likes of Steve Martin (Milford Haven School), Chris Shousha (Ysgol Bro Gwaun, Fishguard), Johnny Llewellin (Sir Thomas Picton School Haverfordwest), Lloyd Phillips (Pembrokeshire College) and Geraint Evans (Ysgol Dyffryn Taf, Whitland) as hub officers, all with a proven track record as quality players in their day and qualified coaches.

They share a mission statement: "More people, more often, more enjoyment," and it is a mantra he fervently believes in. as he works in conjunction with David Arthur, the regional manager of the WRU.

When Mike started out on his own playing days as an eager seven year old there was little organised rugby for his age group and he played at first in the cubs.

"I loved it from the start and there was no tag rugby in those days so were all running around like headless chickens and getting up to our necks in mud!”

"It got a little more organised when I played at No 8 in Johnston Primary School and made it into the Carmarthenshire Under 11s - and I switched to openside by the time I played for QE Maridunum and Carmarthenshire Schools Under 15s.

"We were a useful side that included Matthew Roderick, Gary Edwards and Dafydd Bevan. I was captain as we reached the semi-final of the Welsh Schools' Dewar Shield before losing narrowly to Islwyn Schools.”

Mike went to Monmouth School as the first Rugby Scholarship student and he learned a great deal, not only about the full version of the game but in a very good sevens' side that in his first year won the Rosslyn Park tournament.

"It was a wonderful experience being involved at Monmouth School and I treasure my time there," Mike told us.

“I was thrilled when I was called for Welsh under 15s trials and doubly delighted when I was selected to play at No 7 against Italy at the old Stradey Park with players of the calibre of Gwyn Jones, who went on to captain the Welsh senior side, and scrum half Huw Harries, in the squad.

Mike then joined Carmarthen Quins at youth level in a strong side that won the Districts' Cup and the Carmarthenshire Cup - and also played for the first team in every game for the first season he was involved at senior level: an exciting time when The Quins switched from local rugby to the newly-formed National League set-up.

"Then I was approached to join Narberth, where Stan Liptrott had just taken over as coach alongside club legends Geraint Bowen and Richard 'Stag' Jones - and I enjoyed playing alongside Colin Phillips and Rob Nicholas in the three-quarter line.

"I had four seasons which I thoroughly enjoyed but then a freak training accident ahead of the Pembrokeshire KO Cup Final brought about a speedy end to my career when a second team player caught me off balance I fell to the ground I dislocated my elbow so badly that it was twisted at right angles to where it should have been.

"Rob 'Basher' Lewis came with me to hospital in the ambulance and the inadvertent tears of pain told me that my rugby days were over!"

Mike has sports-minded children in Rhodri (16), a hooker who has represented the Scarlets combined side, Ryan (14), an open-side flanker with Carmarthen and District U15s team and Scarlets East, and Bethany (13), who plays hockey and netball for school.

He would unhesitatingly nominate wife Cerys as his biggest support and they have a three year old daughter in Molly and baby Harrison born this June!

In cricket, Mike started out playing in school and for Carmarthen Wanderers, who didn't have their own ground in those days; hence their name, and has a few centuries to his name, including a battling 148 for Welsh Schools against Shropshire.

"We played on a dodgy track in Shrewsbury that broke up after just a few overs and I was black and blue next day - but it was worth it as we won - and I also reached three figures against South West England in Abergavenny.

"I had some other good knocks but one innings of 98 not out was memorable for an unusual reason because we finished on 240 for 3 and the captain, who had scored a century, declared when I was two runs short of joining him. To say I was not amused was a bit of an understatement."

Back on the rugby front, Mike found it hard to watch for ages after his injury but then his boys got involved and he's now very much in the swing of things after being awarded his level one and two badges and beginning his coaching at youth level with Penallta, and then taking on Nantgaredig before now coaching Felinfoel RFC in Division One (West).

"In 2015 I saw the advert for the WRU Regional Rugby Officers and since I relished the chance to be involved in the community I applied - and was delighted to be offered Pembrokeshire.

"We have initiated the 'Running skills' programme at under 14 level and are looking to get even more junior boys and girls involved in the near future.

"I've been made very welcome by the clubs and I have been really looking forward to the 1917/18 season because there are so many developments in the pipeline."

It is easy to see the enthusiasm shown by Mike King and we wish him every success for his role in the future - and local rugby is in safe hands with people of his calibre being so involved!