Jenkins, Neil

Jenkins, Neil

It was on 14th April 1990 that an unknown ginger haired teenager ran out for his Pontypridd debut at the South Wales Police ground, and so began one of the greatest rugby careers in the history of world Rugby.

Over the next thirteen years, with a short break during which time he left to play for Cardiff, Neil Jenkins made 237 appearances for Ponty, amassing a staggering 3,185 points, and went on to represent Wales, for whom he became record points scorer and cap holder, the Barbarians, and the British Lions.

To put the Ginger Monster's achievements into a global perspective, Neil also became world record points scorer in test rugby. Not bad for a young kid who grew up kicking the ball between the posts of Cae Fardre near his Llantwit home, and never forgot the roots that made him what he was at the height of his illustrious career.

reflects on Neil's remarkable career:
Having been a Ponty supporter for many years it has been a privilege and a pleasure to watch Neil develop from a raw seventeen-year-old youth product into one of the best players in the game today.

From those early days it soon became apparent that this was a special talent and he soon became a regular in the first team at Ponty, graduating to the national side at nineteen-years of age.

Since then his career has blossomed, breaking record after record at every level of the game. Yet during his career he has had and still has his doubters. He has had to endure endless bouts of criticism, particularly from one area of the media.

Some of this criticism has probably been justified but a lot of it is totally unfounded and personal and it says a lot for the man in the way that he has handled this and become the player and person that he is today.

All through these times, both good and not so good, he has had the support of his family and friends, none more so than from his then girlfriend and now wife Kath.

His father Roger and his father-in-law Clive are two marvellous characters and the unmistakable Ginger Monster (his brother-in-law Andrew) has always been at his side. His latest ally is his lovely daughter Georgia. And during all this time Neil has never forgotten his life-long friend and best man Jason.

Added to this the marvellous support given to Neil by his employers and the adoration of the fans at Ponty and you can see just how much Neil is thought of in his hometown.

Memorable moments in Neil's career - where can I start? How many times have we watched Neil strike the ball and watch it sail between the posts for both Ponty and Wales, not forgetting the Lions of course.

He has been the difference between winning and losing on so many occasions for both his club and country that playing without him in the side has become almost unthinkable.

But Neil is not simply just " the best kicker of a rugby ball on the planet."

He may not have the electrifying acceleration of a cheetah, but he has deceptive pace over a limited distance. He is one of the best passers of the ball in the game with the ability to rifle out long, fast and accurate passes, often missing out players and creating try-scoring opportunities for his team mates. And his strength and defensive tackling is legendary.

Winning the Welsh League, both winning and losing in WRU cup finals, winning the Challenge Trophy, Brive and Ponty's other memorable European adventures, converting Scotty Gibbs' try to beat England at Wembley and coming off the bench at Landsdowne Road to win the match for Wales are just some of the memorable moments that spring to mind.

But one of my most memorable moments was the second test against South Africa. Although Jeremy Guscott's dropped goal may have "won the test and the series" for the Lions, it was Neil's marvellous ice-cool kicking, landing five magnificent penalties, that kept the Lions in the match.

And his last-minute touch down behind his own line and resulting clearance kick must have given the whole nation palpitations.

That little patch of grass at Cae Fardre has a lot to answer for!

You will have to travel a long way to meet a man as "nice" as Neil. All throughout his marvellous career he has remained as he is, simply Neil Jenkins. He has time for everbody and everyone and the way that he conducts himself both on and off the field he is a marvellous example to all youngsters and a wonderful ambassador for the game and sport as a whole.

Cae Fardre wouldn' t be a bad stop-off for Michael Aspel and his big red book, would it? > Rugby > Hall of Fame > Jenkins, Neil

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