Press Releases 2016

Welsh Rugby Union President Receives Honorary Fellowship

11.07.2016

Welsh Rugby Union President Dennis Gethin OBE, has received an Honorary Fellowship from University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Mr Gethin, born in Seven Sisters, near Neath, has managed a successful career in both rugby and Law. 

Presenting Mr Gethin, Roger Maidment, Dean of Faculty of Business and Management said: “If ever an honorary fellow personified our faculty’s aspirations it is Mr Dennis Gethin OBE whose career achievements include excellence within the sporting arena – as a record point-scoring fullback for Swansea, Neath, Cardiff and Glamorgan Wanderer. And excellence in academia at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he graduated with both a Masters of Arts Degree and a Master of Laws Degree. Excellence in Law, both in private practice and the public sector and then excellence in sports leadership and management as Secretary of the Welsh Rugby Union, involving the construction of the iconic Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the massively successful 1999 Rugby World Cup. Dennis’s professional achievements have also provided an opportunity for him to make a real difference to Wales through his public service and charitable works.”

After receiving the award, Mr Gethin said: “I am delighted and it’s a great honour, especially since I have a long association with the university and in particular the Lampeter campus. I played my first senior rugby game for Lampeter in Mountain Ash at the age of 17, as my brother Raymond, was a school master there many years ago and they were short on players that day. I really appreciate the honour and will always cherish this day. It will forever live in my memory.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, UWTSD Vice-Chancellor DL said: “We are  pleased to recognise Gethin’s contribution as an ambassador for Wales. At all levels and in all areas, he is acknowledged and respected by those that have had the privilege to work alongside him or meet him in a professional or social capacity, describing him as a ‘true gentleman’ with an unswerving commitment to Wales.”

One of seven children, Mr Gethin’s father and eldest brother were both coalminers working underground. All the family were Welsh speaking. At Neath Grammar School, where he became Head Prefect, he was encouraged to pursue his twin passions of history and rugby and won a place at Selwyn College, Cambridge where he continued to do both and graduated after four years, achieving both a Master of Arts Degree, and a Master of Laws Degree.

From very early on, rugby has always played a major part in Mr Gethin's life. He became a Welsh Secondary Schools International in 1963, obtained two Rugby Blues at Cambridge (1965 & 1966) and played fullback for his home village of Seven Sisters before playing for Swansea, Neath, Cardiff (1966-1971), and finally Glamorgan Wanderers.

Whilst playing for Cambridge he played against the 1963 New Zealand All Blacks and the 1966 Australian Wallabies. During his playing career with Cardiff he became their record points scorer and played against the South African Springboks in 1969. In 1971 he gave up playing first class rugby to concentrate on his legal career.

Following a brief period in private practice he joined Glamorgan County Council as their assistant solicitor and remained there for 2 years before moving to Taff Ely Borough Council where he became the Council's Chief Executive.

1998 saw another career move when, having left local government, he took up sports administration, becoming Secretary of the Welsh Rugby Union; a post he held for 5 years until 2003, overseeing the construction of the Millennium Stadium and the 1999 Rugby World Cup. After retirement from the WRU he joined the BBC Broadcasting Council in Wales and was a member from 2004-2009.

In 2007 Mr Gethin was elected President of the Welsh Rugby Union, an office he continues to hold today. Last Summer, he was honoured by the Gorsedd of the Bards at the Montgomeryshire and Marches National Eisteddfod in Mifod, for his achievements and commitments to Wales through his position as President of the Wales Deaf Rugby and chair of the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust, which offers support and assistance to players after serious injuries.

Last month, Mr Gethin was awarded an OBE for services to Welsh rugby in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours list.

In addition, Mr Gethin is also Patron of Glamorgan County Rugby, a Life member of Welsh Academicals RFC and Seven Sisters RFC, President of Cor Meibion Pontypridd and Vice President of Cor Meibion De Cymru.

Honorary fellowships are conferred upon outstanding individuals in recognition of their contribution to their field of expertise, to the University community or to public life.