A top trailer firm is helping Welsh rugby colossus Dan Lydiate swap tackling All Blacks for rearing pedigree Welsh Black cattle.
The fearless Wales and British and Irish Lions hero, 33, who now plays for the Ospreys, is preparing for life after rugby by returning to his roots as a farmer.
The powerful 6ft 2ins, 17st 9Ibs Grand Slam winner is now hoping for agricultural accolades with his herd of Welsh Black cattle on the 500-acre family farm, Ty’n y Berth, just outside Llandrindod Wells, in Powys, and turned to Ifor Williams Trailers when he needed transport for them.
According to Dan, who has 64 Wales caps and played three times for the Lions during the 2013 tour of Australia, he chose the company’s iconic livestock trailer after trying out several others.
He won’t be hanging up his rugby boots just yet though.
Dan, who last played international rugby against Australia in November 2018, has been recalled to the Wales squad for the 2021 Six Nations competition.
When rugby duties permit, the father-of-two travels from his current home in Ammanford, in Carmarthenshire, back to Ty’n y Berth.
The tough tackling blindside flanker, who came back after breaking his neck in 2008 to become the star of Wales’s 2012 Grand Slam success, is now applying the same passion and commitment to developing and increasing the size of his 26-strong herd of Welsh Blacks.
Buying the new tri-axle livestock trailer marks a new milestone in his journey towards life after he hangs up his boots.
As an added touch, Ifor Williams Trailers designed a bespoke version of their famous logo to incorporate the name of Dan’s herd, Llaithddu.
Dan said: “I train down in Swansea with the Ospreys and on my days off I commute back to the farm in Llandrindod Wells.
“It’s a proper mid-Wales hill farm, predominantly sheep, and in the last two years I’ve bought a small herd of pedigree Welsh Black cattle.
“I’m diversifying into that and moving forward I’m planning for life after rugby back on the farm.
“Going down the Welsh Black route was something that suits the farm because the terrain is quite tough.
“Where the farm sits is a 1,000ft above sea level, going up to 1,800 ft. Welsh Blacks do very well off the rough grazing, and obviously they’re a traditional Welsh breed.
“My parents’ farm is organic as well so it gives a nice balance with the sheep.
“I enjoy it and obviously while I’m still in training my parents and my older brother, Jack, look after the herd for me.
“My brother and I are the fifth generation on the same farm and we’re hoping to pass it on to the next generation.
“Growing up on a farm I’m very familiar with Ifor Williams Trailers and in recent years I’ve been borrowing trailers before deciding to take the plunge and purchase one.
“Ifor Williams was the one I liked the most out of all the different brands and the service has been class. I’ve been really pleased and nothing has been too much trouble.
“For me, the biggest thing when I am transporting large animals is the stability on the road.
“I found that going around corners with this triple-axle model from Ifor Williams Trailers, the stock wasn’t moving around so much, and the box wasn’t swaying.
“Safety was a paramount consideration and obviously reliability. These trailers are pretty durable and robust. They also hold their value really well, so that was a big incentive as well.
“The name of the herd is Llaithddu after the valley where the farm is located and the bespoke logo on the trailer is brilliant, I’m over the moon with it.
“Going forward, hopefully it’ll be a herd name that people recognise and know for being a good quality of stock.”
Among those who met Dan when he came to pick up the trailer was Peter Cross, a team leader, who was there when it rolled off the production line.
He said: “I don’t get to see the customers and it was an absolute pleasure to meet Dan Lydiate. He’s a proper Welsh rugby union legend and a real gentleman.”
Equally thrilled to meet him was rugby-mad Richard Sullivan from the sales department.
He said: “I’m a rugby fan, a big Wales and British Lions fan and I played for Ruthin myself in the front row.
“Dan’s an absolutely cracking player and for someone who is so ferocious on the pitch he’s a really nice guy.”
There too was Tim Jones, the Welsh Rugby Players’ Association’s personal development manager, who has been advising Dan on the transition after his playing career comes to an end.
He said: “We know the players have got to focus and put a lot of energy into playing rugby, but they also need to prepare for the next chapter of their lives.
“That’s where Dan is now, he’s laying the groundwork for life after rugby.
“He’s probably as equally passionate about farming as he is about rugby, and whilst his profile is huge in rugby as a British Lion and an incredible international rugby player, his profile is really large in farming has well.
“The passion that he brings to the rugby field will help him in farming as well.”
Ifor Williams Trailers brought the worlds of rugby and farming together in the way they provided support for feature county Clwyd in their fund-raising activities for the Royal Welsh Show which has been postponed until next year.
Hundreds of the special rugby shirts sponsored by Ifor Williams Trailers have already been sold to boost the show’s coffers and they have also contributed to a £1,000 raffle prize.
At the handover of the trailer, Lowri Lloyd Williams, the show’s Clwyd ambassador, said: “We are immensely grateful to Ifor Williams Trailers for their support and we have a range of merchandise as well, including the rugby shirts, which are available on the Clwyd 2020 website.
“It’s wonderful that we can promote Clwyd 2020 and these rugby shirts with such a well-known rugby player and a Welsh farmer, so tying that all in together is fantastic.”