No player was born in a test match at the Principality Stadium of Wales after the ground was built.
The first to do this is the boy younger than the euro, Google, iTunes, four Harry Potter books and the inauguration of Six Nations itself – 19-year-old Louis Rees-Zammit.
That’s how loud the thunderbolt has been to greet the arrival of the Cardiff boy on the professional stage this season, it is fitting that they call the winger Rees-Lightning.
Louis Rees-Zammit impressed Gloucester this season and could now start for Wales
Rees-Zammit plays for Wales under the age of 18 in Cape Town, South Africa at the age of 17
“He has the opportunity to become the next rugby superstar,” explains Richard Whiffin – Rees-Zammit’s former Gloucester academy coach who has now moved to the Scarlets.
Why? In short, he is big and fast.
“His top speed was higher than we had consistently seen at college level,” says Wayne Thompson, Junior Academy manager at Hartpury College – where Rees-Zammit spent two years from the age of 16.
Whiffin explains the numbers. “At the Gloucester Academy, Louis regularly achieved 10.1 m / s (22.59 mph). At his age that is a huge marker. Top internationals would have difficulty with that.
“Jonny May once achieved a 10.49 (23.46mph) for England.
Height: 6ft 3in
Weight: 13th 10 pounds
DOB: 2 February 2001
Born: Penarth, Wales
“He also has a very good old-fashioned result. He gets the weight of the defenders on his inner foot and then puts the afterburners on the outside and gas them.
“He is not a stepper as such – he will slide and use his pace.”
So there is a reason behind Johan Ackermann’s nickname for the flyer who scored 11 times in 15 professional games for the South African Gloucester.
“Johan is terrible with names,” Whiffin laughs. “Louis is fast so he called him” Speedy “. The boys then call him to take the mickey because it’s such a terrible name! Otherwise it is pure Zam. “
Rees-Zammit stretches across the whitewash against Exeter in the Premiership on Friday
The Rees part – from his mother – sounds Welsh enough, but Zammit?
“That’s Maltese – it’s from his father’s side,” says Whiffin.
Louis’ paternal grandfather brings Maltese taste to the pot. He first emigrated to London, then to Cardiff and now lives in Liverpool, a reason for Eddie Jones and England to flutter the red rose in the direction of the teenager.
When Jones called Rees-Zammit to inquire about his loyalty before Christmas, it was not the first time England tried to steal the Welshman.
Rees-Zammit made his first Welsh cap for Wales East under the age of 10 at the age of 10
Rees-Zammit was born in Penarth from Maxine, who played netball for Wales, and Joe, who played in American Football with Cardiff Bay Tigers.
He played until 11 AM for Llandaff RFC, represented East Wales on U11s and then moved to Rumney RFC and Cardiff Blues until his move across the border to Hartpury at 16, so had hardly turned his head.
“He has been Welsh from day one,” Whiffin explains.
“He has no English ancestors at all, so it was never an option.
- 2001 The year that Rees-Zammit was born. When he plays for Wales, he is the first player born in the Six Nations era – this millennium – to play in the championship.
- 1st MILLENNIAL BORN Test the player to play at the Principality Stadium, and be the only one on the floor in an international international for men or women after he was built after he was built. Taine Basham (for the Dragons on Judgment Day 2019), and Wales Women’s players Lauren Smyth, Megan Webb, Gwen Jenkins, Molly Kelly and Alex Callender (in the non-cap match against Barbarians last November) are the only other millennials to to play the stadium built in 1999.
- 5th YOUNGST Welsh try-scorer in history when Rees-Zammit makes his debut – and the youngest since Keith Jarrett against England in 1967 (18y 332d). Only he and Tom Prydie, George North and Tom Pearson have scored an attempt for Wales in a younger test.
“When John Fletcher was in charge of the U18 in England, he tried hard to see if Louis wanted to play – because he was able to do U18 at an English academy, not U20.
“But he said,” No, I am Welsh – it would be wrong to wear a white shirt. “
“He has always felt that. It was frustrating to see people saying that England should choose him because he couldn’t. “
That is because the 6-year-old teen aged three has not lived in England for three years. The Welsh flag was at the top of his Twitter account – an answer to questions about his qualification status – removed all doubts about him who changed country.
Rees-Zammit who attracts Welsh saves is no surprise to those who know him, but the speed of his rise is certain.
It was only last May when he graduated from Hartpury with a level 3 diploma in sports. And Mark Woodman, president of Llandaff RFC, shows how young this new star is.
“He would be on our Colts U19 team for another year if he stayed, but he was picked up by the regions,” he says.
Cardiff Blues lost Rees-Zammit when he was 16. Because they had little “contact time” with their children each week, Louis’s father thought he would develop at the prestigious Hartpury College both on and off the field.
In September 2017, Louis – pronounced Loo-is, not Lew-ee – for the record, joined and was quickly impressed.
Rees-Zammit (left) at the age of nine for Cardiff Schools in a competition in Ireland
“Louis stood out for his physical size and height for a back,” says Thompson.
YOUNG TIER A TEST DEBUTS SINCE THE MILLENNIUM
- 18y 25d Tom Prydie Wales v Italy (Mar 2010)
- 18y 78d Dafydd Howells Wales v Japan (Jun 2013)
- 18y 126d James O’Connor Australia v Italy (Nov 2008)
- 18y 167d Christopher Tolofua France v Argentina (Jun 2012)
- 18y 214d George North Wales v South Africa (Nov 2010)
- 18y 270d Sergio Parisse Italy v New Zealand (Jun 2002)
- 18y 344d Mirco Bergamasco Italy v France (Feb 2002)
- 18y 355d Gael Fickou France v Scotland (Mar 2013)
- 18y 360d Tom Curry England v Argentina (Jun 2017)
- 18y 364 p Mat Tait England v Wales (Feb 2005)
- 19y 20d Louis Rees-Zammit Wales v France (SATURDAY?)
“For his club and region, he played in the middle, but from the start we saw him as a back-three player.”
Two moments stand out for Thompson and Whiffin. First of all, Thompson is in the AASE U18 league semi-final 2018.
“We played Truro College and were six points higher,” he recalls.
“They scored at the last minute after breaking our 22. Louis followed the opposite wing and let them score in the corner. He caught up with the man and they missed the broad conversion, so we made the final. “
And here Whiffin is an attempt for the Gloucester “A” team against Bristol, nine months ago.
“He went 80 meters from the kick-off, burned everyone and scored right in front of Gloucester coaches Johan Ackermann and David Humphreys who looked behind the posts at pitch level,” he says.
“Before I said to Humphs,” This kid is going to be a rock star – we have to lock him up, “and on the way home he said,” Yes, you’re right. That boy has something “.”
Described as a “polite”, “well-behaved” and “introverted” young man, Rees-Zammit recently exploded in the club scene.
He became the youngest player of Gloucester ever – at 18 years 70 days against Bath in April 2019 – their youngest European try-scorer at 18 years 309 days at the start of this season and against Northampton became the youngest player to score a hat trick in the History of the premiership.
Now at Wales camp he makes Captain Alun Wyn Jones – who may be the father of Rees-Zammit who made his test debut when the child was five – feel very old.
Louis, who was born in 2001, at the age of four on his first sports day in the nursery
“He was born in 2001, so the first thing I did was see what the CD came out of now!”
“It was now 48. Stronger from Britney Spears was done!”
So should he play in the Six Nations? “Every chance he was offered – U16, U18, Academy, Premiership, Europe – he took it,” says Whiffin.
“He is one of those players who will excel. I hope he is chosen. “
Thompson adds: “He is ridiculously young! He would always reach the heights, but doing it within nine months of leaving College is a first! I think he has nothing to lose. “
Soon they will all see how Rees-Lightning is burning the quarter mile.