Roger Bidgood The Firefighter’s Winter Of Discontent

What a feeling it must be to get your first selection for Wales, all your hopes and dreams coming to fruition, the elation and pride of family and friends, and in a rugby mad nation where it means just that little bit extra.

Roger Anthony Bidgood received such news in January 1987, the Newport centre and full-time fighter was selected to make his Welsh debut against Ireland, he was drafted into the Wales team to replace the injured John Deveraux.  

As the celebrations began little did he think that he would have to wait five years before stepping onto the Cardiff Arms Park turf, to gain that magical first cap.

The delay you would suspect would either be the result of a badly timed injury, or a disciplinary issue.

On this occasion it was neither and the culprit and cause was of a meteorological variety, the game due to played on the opening day of the Five Nations Tournament, January 17 1987, was cancelled due the bitter icy conditions that had engulfed the Welsh capital, and as a result his international career was also put on ice.

John Deveraux had regained fitness by the time Wales were due to play their next match in Paris, against France, so the Whitchurch fireman was left out in the cold, so near and yet so far from his dream of playing for Wales.

It took another five years until Roger was eventually selected for Wales, when he was called up to face Scotland on March 21 1992,  he partnered Scott Gibbs in the centre in a team captained Ieuan Evans.

Wales won the match 15-12, thanks to a Richard Webster try, and eleven points from the boot of Neil Jenkins.

Bidgood went on to gain five caps for Wales, his only international try coming in Wales 42-13 victory over Zimbabwe, in Harare in 1993. Later that year he made his final international appearance against Japan in Cardiff, signing off with a 55-5 win.

The six-foot, fourteen stones centre had a full and varied career, playing for Newport, Cardiff, Pontypool, Pontypridd, Rumney, Caerphilly, Newbridge and Blackwood, along with representative appearances for the Barbarians and Monmouthshire.

He captained Newport in the 1993/94 season, and when his playing days were over he employed his coaching skills at Blackwood, Caerphilly and Risca.

In 2016 he became a councillor on Caerphilly Borough Council representing Plaid Cymru.

“I decided I wanted to give something back to the community and as a proud Welshman there was only one party I could stand for Plaid Cymru”

Thirty one years as a firefighter between 1983 and 2014 are a far greater accolade than any sporting achievement could ever match, but it is fair to say Roger Bidgood lit up many a dark wintery afternoon on the playing fields of Wales.

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