Liam Williams (rugby union)
|Birth name||Liam Brian Williams|
|Date of birth||9 April 1991|
|Place of birth||Swansea, Wales|
|Height||188 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||85 kg (13 st 5 lb)|
|Rugby union career|
Liam Brian Williams (born 9 April 1991) is a Welsh rugby union player currently playing for URC side Scarlets. He has previously represented Saracens, Llanelli and Waunarlwydd RFC. A Wales international, Williams has also twice been selected to tour with the British and Irish Lions. Able to play across the back three, Williams' primary position is Fullback.
Williams is known for his unusual running style and his fearless style of play.
A school boy developed by the local Waunarlwydd RFC club, he was not picked up by any of the Welsh regional professional academies, and hence aged 16 started working as a trainee scaffolder at Port Talbot Steelworks, whilst continuing to play for Waunarlwydd.
Aged 20 Williams was signed by Scarlets, being developed for his first year in 2010–11 at Llanelli RFC, making his debut against Carmarthen Quins in March 2010. Williams then went on to make his Scarlets regional debut against Connacht on 10 September 2011 and scoring his first try in the away defeat to Benetton Rugby on 1 October 2011. Williams had a dream first season at the Scarlets, going on to score 40 points in 26 appearances. His performances led him to be nominated for the LV Breakthrough Player Award and he was voted Player's Player of the Year for the Scarlets.
Williams played an integral role in the Scarlets run to the 2017 Pro12 Grand Final, their first championship win since 2004. This included crossing for the opening try in the final against Munster, with Scarlets eventually running out 22-46 winners at the Aviva Stadium.
In 2017, it was announced Williams would be joining Aviva Premiership side Saracens in England on a three-year contract from the 2017–18 season. In the 2018–19 season Williams helped Saracens to both the Premiership title and the European Rugby Champions Cup. In the Premiership final against Exeter Williams scored a try. Following exposure of Saracens salary-cap breach, Williams secured an early release from his contract. Williams left Saracens with a record of 21 tries in 31 Saracens appearances and a 90.5% win rate in the Aviva Premiership having won 19 of 21 games played.
Williams returned to Scarlets with immediate effect on 25 February 2020. Following an injury hit period with Scarlets it was announced on 6th January 2022 that Williams would join Cardiff Rugby ahead of the 2022-23 season.
Capped by Wales at U20 level in 2011 in both the Six Nations and Word Rugby Junior Championships, Williams was named in the senior Wales training squad for the first time for the match versus Australia on 3 December 2011. He went on to make his debut for Wales against the Barbarians on 2 June 2012 at the Millennium Stadium.
Williams made his Six Nations debut against Ireland in Round 2 of the 2014 Six Nations Championship, going on to play in each subsequent match of that tournament. He scored his first international try and was named Man of the Match in the final game, a 51–3 win against Scotland.
Williams was called up to the Wales squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup despite being a doubt following surgery on his foot in June 2015. Williams started at Fullback for the first two pool games however both games ended prematurely. Against Uruguay, Williams was withdrawn due to a first half dead leg before returning for the England game. Against England, Williams received a kick to the head following a punt attempt by Tom Wood. Wood managed to avoid a ban for the kick, with citing commissioner Maurizio Vancini preferring to give a warning. Williams would again return for the final pool game against Australia, beginning the defeat on the wing. This game would see Williams suffer a new foot injury and would prematurely end his participation in the tournament.
Williams secured his first Grand Slam with Wales during the 2019 Six Nations Championship. Williams started every game at 15 and contributed a Man of the Match performance in the 21–13 win over England on 23 February 2019. This win also sealed Wales 12th consecutive test win beating the previous record of 11, set between 1907 and 1910.
In September 2019, Williams was selected as part of the Wales squad for 2019 Rugby World Cup. Williams entered the tournament as first choice Fullback and started at 15 in each game he played as Wales reached the semi-finals. Williams scored his first Rugby World Cup try on 23 September 2019 in the opening game against Georgia. After impressing in the 25–29 win against Australia, Williams would score again in the following game against Fiji, helping Wales to secure their qualification for the quarter-finals. After overcoming France and booking their place in the semi-finals, Williams suffered an ankle injury ahead of the game, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.
British & Irish Lions
In April 2017, Williams received an invitation to play in the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. Williams played in the provincial games against the Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs, both at Fullback and Wing. Williams began the first test at 15, contributing to a 'wonder try' that was the stand out score of the series. This involved collecting the ball under pressure in his own 22 before side stepping All Blacks captain Kieran Read and driving past others up to halfway before offloading to Jonathan Davies. After exchanges with Elliot Daly, Sean O'Brien then finished the move. In the second test Williams again contributed to the first Lions try, with his quality distribution providing an assist to Taulupe Faletau as the Lions ran out 21-24 winners. Williams then played a central role in the final test, securing a series draw. Williams ended the tour having made 344 metres during the 414 minutes on the field with an impressive 12 defenders beaten and 47 carries made.
Williams was selected for his second British and Irish Lions tour in May 2021 against the reigning World Champions South Africa. Williams appeared as a replacement in the first test victory but would drop out of the match day 23 for the second test. Williams would then start the final test on 7th August 2021, taking his total Lions appearances to 5.
Williams is known by the nickname Sanjay, which he has had since he was young. He currently lives with his Welsh model girlfriend Sophie Harries having been together since 2015. Williams has spoken previously about his struggles with a stammer which was exacerbated by the pressures of conducting press interviews. Williams has sought therapy to resolve this and has conducted more interviews since. Williams is known for his unusual running style stemming from bowing of his legs. This does not impact his performances and has not been corrected following advice from doctors that doing so could end his career.
- "Wales Senior Squad". Wru.co.uk. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- Griffiths, Gareth (19 June 2016). "The making of Liam Williams as Wales star wins over NZ critics". Walesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
- Woolford, Anthony (20 November 2018). "The picture of a Wales rugby star before life changed forever". WalesOnline. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
- https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20130428203315/http://www.scarlets.co.uk/eng/rugby/people.php?player=96023&includeref=dynamic[dead link]
- "Williams is Wales player of the year". BBC Sport. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
- "Saracens sign Wales and Scarlets utility back Liam Williams". The Guardian. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
- "Premiership final: Exeter Chiefs 34-37 Saracens". BBC. 1 June 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- "Leinster 10-20 Saracens: English side win third Champions Cup in Newcastle". BBC. 11 May 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
- "Liam Brian Williams". ESPN scrum. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
- "Liam Williams: Scarlets confirm early return of Wales full-back from Saracens". BBC Sport. 25 February 2020. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
- "Cardiff confirm Williams signing". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
- "Warren Gatland gambles on fitness doubts for Australia Test". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- "Wales 51-3 Scotland". BBC Sport.
- "Wales 2015 Rugby World Cup squad". 2 September 2015.
- "Tom Wood escapes ban over Liam Williams incident". 28 September 2015.
- "Wales to consider options as Liam Williams is ruled out of the World Cup". 11 October 2015.
- "Wales vs Tonga - Report - Friendly 2018 - 17 Nov, 2018 - ESPN".
- "Wales on course for grand slam as late tries shatter England". TheGuardian.com. 23 February 2019.
- "Wales reveal RWC 2019 squad - Welsh Rugby Union". September 2019.
- McLaughlin, Luke (23 September 2019). "Wales 43-14 Georgia: Rugby World Cup 2019 – as it happened". The Guardian.
- "Huge blow for Wales as Liam Williams to miss semi-final". 24 October 2019.
- Schofield, Daniel (11 July 2017). "Sean O'Brien's Lions wonder try wins out". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- "2017 Lions Player Retrospective: Liam Williams". 11 July 2017.
- "Lions 2021 squad announcement: Gatland names 10 Welshmen". 6 May 2021.
- "Revealed: These are the brilliant nicknames of the Lions players". 5 July 2017.
- "Who is rugby star Liam Williams' girlfriend Sophie Harries?". 22 November 2016.
- "Scrum V Rugby - BONUS EPISODE: Liam Williams chats to Gareth Thomas - BBC Sounds".
- "Liam Williams on His Bow Legs & Why He Can't Get Them Fixed". 28 August 2017.