Rugby's Funny Stories

October 14 2019

Let's Have a Laugh!
  The Infamous "Pontypool Front Row Row"  



During their 1978 tour of Australia, the great Welsh team of that era tried all sorts of devious methods to get freebie phone calls through to their wives and loved ones back home.

The players resorted to tricks like asking restaurant proprietors if they could use the phone — and then calling the other side of the world when the proprietor thought they were ringing a local number.

Prop forward Charlie Faulkner — a not-so-bright member of the legendary Pontypool front row — opted for a different tactic at the reception that followed the first Test match in Brisbane.

He picked up the house phone, got through to the hotel switchboard and barked out his home number in Newport. ‘’To whom do I charge the call?’’ asked the operator. ‘’Err…Mr Dawes. John Dawes,’’ mumbled Charlie, figuring he could get the tour coach to pick up the tab. ‘’Please remain by the phone for a moment, Mr Dawes, and I’ll call you back,’’ came the reply.

Charlie replaced the receiver and got back to the business of drowning his sorrows after a rare defeat. By the time the call came through a few minutes later, he was in another world. ‘’Ullo,’’ said Charlie. ‘’I have a call to South Wales for Mr John Dawes,’’ confirmed the operator. Charlie took a quick look around. ‘’He’s not here,’’ he barked – and hung up.

  The Great Cliff Morgan  



Cliff Morgan, the rugby maestro who later became a commentator and eventually head of BBC TV sport, vividly recalls his first broadcasting experience. Wales had just beaten Ireland 14-3 in Dublin on their way to the Triple Crown and Grand Slam.

When BBC radio commentator Sammy Walker asked the great man what he remembered about the match. ‘’My father losing his teeth,’’ said Cliff. ‘’When Ken Jones scored our second try, dad was so excited that his dentures flew out of his mouth into the crowd and he hasn’t seen them since.’’

Some years later, Morgan was recounting the tale to Tony O’Reilly, who played 29 times for his country before becoming a mega-rich international businessman and head of the Heinz empire.

O’Reilly, who was renowned for his great wit, feigned surprise at the news. ‘’Your father’s, were they?’’ he said. "’That’s amazing. I know the guy in Cork who’s still wearing them.’’

On another occasion, O’Reilly had to make a brief trip to a Dublin hospital after being involved in a minor traffic accident. With medical treatment in Ireland charged on a sliding scale according to income.

The nurse who was filling in the details on his behalf asked: ‘’Mr O’Reilly, do you earn more than 10,000 punts (pounds)?’’ Quipped Tony: ‘’Now that depends on whether you are talking about the hour or the day.’’

   Tony O'Reilly  

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