In March 2019, Adrian Lock at Ystradgynlais RFC reached the monumental milestone of 500 senior appearances for his home town club. The prop forward can add countless junior appearances to that list as the 37-year-old celebrated 30 years at the Swansea valley club.

I met Adrian before the match in Merlins café in Ystradgynlais which he jokes is the secret behind the longevity “I have a pre-match breakfast here every Saturday and I think that’s the reason why I’ve played so many”.

Humble about the achievement Adrian tells me that “I don’t think of it as a big deal, I just see it as the next game.”


Having made his senior debut at 16 for the thirds against Swansea Uplands away, Adrian only needed to wait two years before making his debut for the firsts. “I was 18 years old playing first game for the firsts away against Pontypool. Martin Madden played against me that day” Somehow, after facing the ex-scarlets and Wales front rower in a midweek game in Gwent, he carried on…

Better times came though and the very best came in the 2013 rugby Millennium stadium win. “We beat Cambrian Welfare in Swalec Bowl, it was amazing, half the village were there, I think we took 9 busses from Ystradgynlais that day. Special day’.

The win marked an incredible turn around for the club which went through a really rough spell in the years prior ‘We played against Vardre twelve years ago and lost 98-3, actually went 3 nill up in that game but we only had twelve players. Following game was 90 odd as well. I thought that was the end of the club to be honest with you. The club were paying good money to play the years before it and when the money left, the players did as well, it was a really hard time after that.

Thanks to players like Adrian that stuck around, the club not only survived but is now thriving “Future is looking bright for the club. We have a good mini and junior section and a bright future there. A lot of good players, my ambition is to coach the club one day, I like to think that I have been successful as a player and I want to as a coach as well.”


It may be helpful for his coaching career that Ospreys coach Alan Clarke now lives in Ystradgynlais and is always open to give some tips ‘if we need advice, we can knock his door, he’s at the club a lot and was there for the Wales v Scotland game.’

It is that desire to coach which resulted in Adrian having a brief spell away from the Ystrad front-row “I went to Vardre coaching and played for them while there, I want to go into coaching and so the offer came to go there and I gave it a go. I found it really hard leaving and was always asking how Ystrad got on, I missed the club to be honest with you and so I came back.”

Adrian is clearly proud to have won player of the year in 2005, an achievement all the greater because of the position he plays “ you don’t get recognition in the front row, not just here but at any club. Generally we are the donkeys but I’m honoured to do it. I love it to be honest, wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on the pitch. The scrums are better in grassroot than international rugby where they are so often re-set and they want a penalty every scrum. 

‘The game has gone tougher over the years, doesn’t help with all the rule changes, especially in the front row. It is slightly better now than the previous change where we were supposed to crouch, pause before engaging and the pause can be really hard. It has been good for me personally that we have Ex Scarlet boy Vernon Cooper as coach, him and Anthony Buchanan make a difference for us in the front row’


As well as the rule changes, age has caught Adrian up slightly “I find it hard now sometimes, training is twice a week but sometimes I don’t train on the Tuesday, find that it just takes longer to recover. The record for the club is 600 odd caps and if I can stay fit then I think I can get close to it. I’ve been lucky generally with injuries, I missed half a season with a neck injury when the scrum collapsed and pulled a hamstring but generally not had too many really”.

The whole family have links with the club, Adrian’s father, brother, uncle and cousin have all worn the blue shirt and it is fitting that his two nieces Gwenan and Alys walked out with him for the milestone match. 

CLICK to see Adrian’s chosen best 15 he has played with

There is one slight regret for the player who started at full-back before switching to the front row aged 13. “A regret of mine is that maybe I didn’t play in the Premiership, if I had of trained more and got fitter then I think I could have played some time there.”

Adrian was voted clubman of the year last season and has played against 100 different clubs in his senior career but always looks forward to the derby’s ‘they are always the ones to look forward to. Abercrave is the main derby but Ystalyfera and Seven sisters are big ones too. A lot of clubs have wished me luck and having played against them for so long, most of them know me now.”

Over the years the prop has a few story’s to tell, The first one was when he thought he had cost team-mate Craig Jones an under 16s cap:

‘he was playing under 16s in Twickenham on Saturday and on the Wednesday training session beforehand, he jumped in the line-out and I lifted him and dropped him by accident. He went down holding his ankle and I thought I’d cost him his Welsh game. I didn’t hang around, I run home. Thankfully he was Ok though, which was a huge relief and he played in the game.”

“another story I remember was with Malcom Hopkins when he was coaching us against Cwmgors and I remember he was standing on a bank watching us play and the next thing, we heard a scream and he had fallen face first down the bank and his head was in water. The whole game stopped, everyone run over to check that we was ok, he was fine but covered head to toe in mud.”

Going back over 20 years, Adrian remembers a rare type of assist “At under 15s, we were playing South Gower away in the rain and I went for a last-minute drop goal. I kicked it up in the air, it wasn’t reaching but our winger run after it, caught it and scored the winning try. I ran around as if I was a world beater.” After the game, I asked Adrian how the day went and he said “excellent, great crowd there a guard of honour. The only bad thing about it was the result, they scored a converted try to win right at the end. It was a really great day, the family there and a few beers in the club afterwards.”

Jack Swan
Author: Jack Swan

Swansea genius.

Jack Swan

Swansea genius.


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