All at Wales Rugby League were sad to hear that Phil Davies, who founded South Wales Scorpions RLFC and was chairman for its first four years died this morning following an illness.
A big fan of rugby league and a successful businessman from the Port Talbot area, Phil was also on the WRL board during his time at South Wales Scorpions.
He founded the Scorpions in late 2009 after the then Super League club Celtic Crusaders moved to Wrexham, to ensure the continuing development of professional rugby league in the region. Under his instruction, the Scorpions also took over the running of junior sides that brought through players like Regan Grace and current Wales men’s international players Connor and Curtis Davies (Phil can be seen above presenting Curtis Davies with the 2010 WRL U13 Grand Final trophy when Curtis was at Neath Port Talbot Steelers).
Phil, who was also on the board of Neath RFC in their 2012-13 season, remained at South Wales Scorpions until the end of 2013 which is when business took him over to Thailand, but he remained in constant contact with those at Wales Rugby League, especially WRL president Mike Nicholas, one of the people who encouraged him to get involved with the sport. He was back in Wales having treatment for cancer when he last made an appearance at a WRL event, watching his local side Aberavon Fighting Irish play in the WRL men’s Grand Final in Merthyr in August.
Phil brought in a number of directors to work alongside him, including John Brennan, who we sadly lost over a decade ago, Mike Nicholas, Mark Rowley, John Devereux and Rob Buckley.
Mike Nicholas says: “Phil was a very good friend of mine. When we needed to sustain professional club rugby league in South Wales, he came on board to help me and established South Wales Scorpions, based in Neath, that developed a number of players that went on to Super League and play for Wales. I’ve a lot to thank him for. He moved to Thailand a decade ago, but he always kept in touch and he loved the game of rugby league in Wales. My condolences go out to all his family and friends.”
John Devereux adds: “I’m absolutely devastated that a good man has gone. I only spoke to him a week or so ago and I knew he was ill but he was really positive. He was a great friend of myself and my family, and what he did for rugby league was amazing. I met him first playing golf in the 2000s with Steve Redgrave and we became good friends then. So when he got involved in rugby league with South Wales Scorpions, he made sure I was involved. He was a great generous man and I’ll miss him.”
Rob Buckley, who runs the Neath Sportsman’s Society was involved alongside Davies for all of his tenure at the Scorpions. He said: “As commercial director at the club from 2009-13, it was a pleasure to work with Phil, who gave me a free hand, and he never forgot his friends who helped him during that time. Phil always went the extra mile to ensure players, staff and fans had access to everything they needed on and off the field.
“I knew Phil for over 20 years on a personal level, and he was always available to chat and listen and help whenever he could. Phil was a true gentleman, and was a special friend to my family and I.”
Mark Jones, General Manager of Wales Rugby League, who knew Phil throughout his reign at the Scorpions, said: “Phil was such an integral part in the development of rugby league in South Wales. Many players have gone onto have successful professional and international careers because of opportunities that they had at the Scorpions. Phil was always so enthusiastic about growing the sport in Wales and invested his own time and finances into raising the profile of Rugby League in Wales. WRL send our condolences to his family and friends, Phil will be sadly missed by us all.”