Tal Selley is between shifts at Valero Pembroke Refinery; Aled Thomas just back from an eight hour round bus trip to North Wales; and James Merriman has wound up a day’s work at his family run business.

Pretty modest, run of the mill stuff from a trio familiar to the more knowledgeable Welsh rugby supporters, without being household national names.

The latter notion though, can perhaps be attributed to ignorance on behalf of a supposedly rugby loving nation.

All three represented Pembrokeshire and Wales at various junior and youth levels. Selley became the first player to play for all four regions, winning honours with the Ospreys. He was also capped at senior level, scoring a try in his only appearance against the USA.

Thomas played for Scarlets and Dragons, as well as stints with Gloucester and London Welsh and is now a player-coach with Carmarthen Quins in the Principality Premiership.

Merriman, who once captained Wales to an Under 21 Grand Slam, made his name as a professional over the bridge with Gloucester and Bristol, before injury confined him to early retirement in 2014 when aged just 30.

Those brief bio’s obviously only scratch the surface of commendable careers. And yet none of the above achievements go close to what all three openly hail as their finest hour.

March 7th, 2009 – when Selley, Thomas, and Merriman were all part of the Wales Sevens team crowned World Cup winners in Dubai after beating Argentina 19-12 in the final. Selley was player of the tournament, Thomas got the winning try in the final, Merriman was every bit as instrumental. And from the whole squad it amounted to an amazing achievement that stunned the World.

And yet in comparison to the euphoric furore that has accompanied Welsh Six Nations success or even a decent World Cup run, it was a feat barely celebrated back home. And bar the odd throwback article from the national media since, in truth, it’s scarcely acknowledged.

Which is bemusing. The sevens game will never command the same attention as the 15-a-side code, no denying that, but what Paul John’s 12-man squad did in Dubai as 80-1 rank outsiders should go down as a glorious coup for Welsh rugby. Besides, it will be considerable time before a Wales sevens side goes close to doing it again.

So a decade on from a surreal night for all involved I ventured to Hopshill Firewood in Saundersfoot, the base of Merriman’s business, to try and stir some memories.

It wasn’t difficult………

So, a decade on from winning the World Cup and obviously you have great memories. But how vividly do you remember the build up to it all?

Aled: Pretty vividly. We had some intense training in Treforest before we left but once we got there we were quite relaxed. We were on the beach every day playing volleyball!

James: We were really relaxed because there was no pressure on us. We all knew each other really well and there was just a general good vibe.

Tal: We were lucky that season in that instead of boys coming in and out, we had most of the squad together for six or seven tournaments beforehand. We knew over one game we could beat anyone and every tournament we seemed to beat a ‘big boy’.

James: Playing in Wellington and San Diego beforehand was crucial. It meant we had two proper weeks together playing IRB standard tournaments, and we beat New Zealand in New Zealand which helped.

Tal you’d been on the circuit for five years by the time the World Cup came around. Did you have the backing of the Dragons to go?

Tal: I’d never done a full season of sevens, I was one of the boys who dropped in and out. In the early days when I was with Scarlets and Ospreys it was just a case of if you’re picked you go. But at the Dragons there were a few of us going to the World Cup and Richard Fussell was injured so they wanted one of us to stay behind. But it was was classed an IRB week (other tournaments weren’t) so they couldn’t stop us. Things got a bit strained then.

Aled: It was similar for me at London Welsh. I’d been in and out with the sevens but Danny Wilson was head coach at the time and was very supportive of me going to the World Cup, and I played the two tournaments leading into it. My only issue was the boys left on a Wednesday and we had a cup game on the Saturday - so I played that and flew out the next day. I missed a few days of the build-up.

James, you were unattached at the time. How did that come about?

James: I had it in my contract at Neath that I could play sevens but they had a few injuries at the time and wanted me to stay home. I said no so Geraint Hawkes, who was Chairman, said we won’t pay you if you go. I took legal advice as they hadn’t stuck to the contract and became unattached, which probably helped give me a bit of publicity and I later joined Bristol.

In terms of squad mentality, did this all help your resolve? A sense of ‘people don’t want us here’ so let’s stick together?

Tal: For me personally, no. We were close anyway. In fact I remember being in a hotel room in Dubai with Mezza (James) and just saying ‘look at this - two Pembrokeshire boys sitting here before a World Cup, it’s unbelievable’.

Aled: Same here, I never thought of it like that. We had enough to focus on and people forget we had to qualify for the World Cup with tournaments in Denmark, Germany, and Georgia. We had to go to some dark places!

So you qualified and went in on the back of those two decent tournaments in Wellington and San Diego. You were 80-1 rank outsiders for the World Cup though. As a squad, did you have a target?

Aled: The goal really was to get out of the group. We never spoke about trying to make the semis or anything like that.

Tal: The format for this one was a 24 team tournament where the pool winners went through and the two best runners up. So we knew we needed to run up some points against Zimbabwe and Uruguay which we did before losing to Argentina. We were probably 7th or 8th seeds going into quarters.

So that 14-0 loss to Argentina meant a quarter final against New Zealand. Did the fact you had that win in the bank over them in Wellington help you in terms of confidence?

Aled: Yes, it made them seem beatable.

James: That gave us belief. But a funny story, I remember being in a golf buggy on my way to the ground at 9.30am with Hilly (Craig Hill) and Brewy (Aled Brew) and they were saying how hot it was. I said, ‘don’t worry we’ll be in the bar by 12’.

Aled: Me and Beechy (Lee Beech) were packing our bags in the morning and we didn’t know how many pairs of pants to put in. I said pack three just in case!

And then of course, you went onto beat them with that late Tom Isaacs try……

Tal: It was fantastic and everything went right for us. Tom came on for me and I can categorically say if I’d stayed on we wouldn’t have won the World Cup. Because the ball went loose and I would have tried to pick it up – but he kicked it on and scored.

And then straight after their winger broke through and passed the ball over his shoulder into touch. You couldn’t write it.

James: I then over threw the lineout, they banged up on our line then dropped the ball!

Tal: It seemed then it was meant to be. We knew we were playing the winners of Samoa and England which went to extra time and it was even hotter than when we played - so Samoa were knackered. And Kenya beat Fiji and Argentina beat South Africa so all the top seeds went out.

So suddenly did you sense a huge opportunity to win the World Cup?

Aled: We went for food after the quarter finals and boys from other teams were coming up to us saying we could win it. I remember the American team being really excited for us.

Tal: I spoke to my wife on the phone and she said you’re going to get to the final. But I still wasn’t thinking about winning it.

James: I thought there was a chance. Especially as Samoa looked out on their feet after beating England. They were the last quarter final and we played them in the first semi-final, and I remember we really took it to them. Usually we would hold back against Samoa because of the physicality.

Tal: When we beat Samoa then I believed because we all knew we could beat Argentina. We should have beaten them night before.

Given it was the World Cup final though, did it feel different in the final moments before kick-off. Were there extra nerves?

James: For me it was the most relaxed game of the tournament and I was still in the shower five minutes before we went out. We knew we could have beaten them in the group match and it was night time by now, so conditions were much cooler.

Tal: We had never played a 10 minute final but knew what we were doing. We had our own style - we played pods on either side of field with Lee (Williams) and Aled in the middle looking for gaps. I remember Pughy (Richie Pugh) scoring the first try and looking up at the clock to see there was still eight minutes of the first half to go!

Aled: We actually took the ball from kick off and kept it for a minute and 45 seconds until we scored.

So you led through Richie Pugh’s try, then 7-7, then back in front through your try Tal, then 12-12. Aled a minute to go, talk us through the moment?

Aled: It shot out of the scrum and Lee ‘Bach’ (Williams) jumped on it, for some reason I went to scrum half then and Hilly came blind with me. I dummied and just went.

Tal: Can you remember what I said to you when you scored?

Aled: Yes, make sure you f***ing kick the conversion!

So the final whistle and the celebrations. Does that seem like a blur?

Tal: Me and Mezza were off the field at the end so we ran onto the pitch and just grabbed all the boys. I remember Tommy (Isaacs) bursting into tears, they were streaming down his face

James: And Dafydd Hewitt ran on with his busted knee (Hewitt had injured his ACL in the opening game).

Aled: I wish I’d looked over to see all the boys running on, but I got straight into a huddle. It’s my one regret.

So you achieved this almost impossible World Cup win and experienced the ultimate high. But then in terms of the sevens squad, where did you all go from there?

Tal: This is where problems started. I landed on the Monday and we (Dragons) were training on the Wednesday. The coach Paul Turner stood up in the team meeting and said that something fantastic had happened and we’d won the World Cup, but our days of flying to exotic locations and playing sevens were over. Adelaide was the next tournament and I was told I’d have to go unpaid so I said I would. But in the week leading up to it I was called back to play a Wednesday night game for the Dragons.

Aled: I had the same sort of thing. When I got back it was almost as if you’ve done that now, you’ve won the World Cup but that’s it. I ended up not going to Adelaide or Hong Kong.

James: The sad thing for me is I went to those tournaments and was captain as I was left as one of the most experienced there. We had eight or nine new faces and it was like we’d won the World Cup then gone back to the beginning. The WRU should have put a group of boys on full time sevens contracts there and then - I’d have signed one.

Aled: Definitely. That was the chance to build on things.

It seems the World Cup win never got the credit or publicity it deserved, from the WRU or the media. Why?

Tal: At the time the World Cup was on Setanta Sports so not many people watched it. The WRU told us the achievement would never be forgotten but very little has been done to mark it since. When England won the Rugby World Cup every player was made at least an MBE, same with their cricket side when they won the Ashes. You can’t be resentful about it because it is what it is, but we never had the credit we deserved.

Aled: I think it would have been different had social media been like it is now. You could have imagined Twitter going off and more people would have known what was going on.

Tal: What’s nice is while we haven’t made much of it as a country since I’ve come home and worked at places like Murco and Valero I’ve realised people down here (Pembrokeshire) think a lot of it.

Aled: I find that. My home village of Bancyfelin recognise it but outside of that, very little.

James: What gets me is when you see the celebrations and the coverage when we win a Six Nations or a Grand Slam. The WRU only truly care about the 15-a-side game.

Aled: Back in 2009 we were supposed to be honoured at the Wales v Ireland Six Nations game. But it ended up as walking around the pitch at half time and families weren’t invited.

As a country, do we get the balance right between sevens and 15-a-side rugby? The current squad seem a long way away from the best sides.

Tal: Apart from Argentina we have the highest conversion rate of sevens players to full caps so I guess in that sense things are working.

Aled: But you’re talking some boys who may only play one or two tournaments.

James: Rhys Webb is a classic example. He won the World Cup with us but he didn’t play a lot of sevens and that’s not what developed him.

Tal: It’s hard in Wales because we don’t have the Olympics to build to. Even countries like Spain have that target – and every tournament they’ll have the same eight or nine players there. That’s how New Zealand have done it, by picking a group of boys and sticking with them for a couple of years and then bringing in a superstar around them. We used to play against Julian Savea.

James: You look at people like Alex Cuthbert now. A great player who lost form and confidence, but it would have done him a lot of good to have played a few sevens tournaments and ran in tries.

If you were to look back now on your own careers in sevens, and of course the World Cup win, what does it mean to each of you?

Aled: It was definitely my best moment (the World Cup win). I had success with the Scarlets and played for the Babarians but something like that is just a once in a lifetime and I’ll never forget it. As a group of players we were very tight and we had some good nights out together too. We keep in touch, maybe not as much as we should but there is a re-union trip proposed to Dubai later this year for the 10 year anniversary.

Tal: I said at the time it was my best moment and I definitely stick by that. As a child you dream of playing for Wales and I had one cap and played a lot of regional rugby, but I found my niche with sevens. And to finish if off like I did with boys I travelled the world with, my best mates, was by far my greatest rugby memory. And that Saturday in Dubai was the one day of my life where everything went right.

Aled: And you were player of the tournament remember.

Tal: That was by the by. Any one of us could have got that.

James: What was so good was there were no egos in the squad, everyone just got on with it. But like Aled and Tal it’s my greatest rugby achievement by far and looking back now it’s like a dream. I’m not someone who likes showing off about things, but I love having flashbacks of it and the memories will last forever. As I said, it’s like a dream but a very good one!