Highly-rated Namibian rugby youngster Ruan Ludick has joined Welsh outfit Merthyr RFC on a two-year contract, the principality premiership contenders announced recently.
The 22-year old Namibian rugby sensation have represented Namibia in four Tests and have also played in the South African domestic Currie Cup.
Ludick, who is a fearless lock, was born in Pretoria in South Africa, but grew up in Windhoek. He made his test debut for Namibia this year against Romania and he also represented the Welwitschias in the South African domestic Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup competitions also this year.
The 6ft 10ins second row arrived in the UK this past week after a 22-hour journey from his home in Namibia’s capital city Windhoek, before he was introduced to Merthyr RFC’s committee and his teammates and coaches.
The wheels were set in motion for the signing when former Blues and Scarlets coach Phil Davies – now head coach for Namibia – got in touch with the club in the summer about a potential move for the player to progress his career in Wales.
After making his Test debut against Romania earlier this year, Ludick is now looking forward to putting in the hard work with the Ironmen, as Merthyr RFC are affectionately known.
Admitting he didn’t know a great deal about Wales before Phil Davies suggested a move, Ludick has been busy watching how Wales play in the run-up to his arrival. “All I knew was Phil Davies. He told me about this and I came with an open mind.
“I have been watching how Wales play rugby”, he said. “I saw the under 21s play, and I also saw the international side play. Quite impressed. Looking forward to playing hard rugby. I heard it’s quite hard, that’s why I’m here.”
With rain pouring down at The Wern on Tuesday evening, it was certainly a culture shock for Ludick, who waved goodbye to 40°C heat when he left home on Sunday to come to the UK and Wales for the first time. “I like this cold”, he admitted. “It’s quite nice.”
With the furthest Ludick having travelled being Romania, the staff and team at Merthyr RFC are determined to give him a warm Welsh welcome and have already started introducing their new player to Welsh food and drink like faggots and peas and Welsh beer, while he’s been warmly welcomed by The Bessemer Hotel in Dowlais while the club finish work on setting him up in a flat of his own.
Having only been away from his family for a month before now, the 22-year-old says he’s received a friendly reception so far. On his family, he said: “It’s tough on them, more tough on them than on me. I’ll get used to it. Everyone I’ve met so far is very friendly.”
Merthyr RFC chairman Peter Morgan said: “He wanted to have the challenge of coming to Wales and seeing what it was like to play in Wales.
“Any addition with the quality that he’s played, it’s an addition to the team and the players. He’ll learn a lot as well from our coaches, a couple of experienced players in our side.
“That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about development, so he can take his knowledge when he goes back home and he can spread that knowledge on – if he ever goes back. You can’t lose, really’’
“You can’t lose, really. If he stays here for two years and he progresses well, the only people who are going to benefit from it are going to be the regional sides like the Blues – or any regional side he wants to move along to. In two years’ time, he could be on a regional contract.
“If we can help him progress his rugby, I think then we’ll do a good job. Anybody who wants a chance, our club has always been there. “Who knows, in a couple of years he could be playing for Wales!”
Asked if that’s something he’d aim for, Ludick added: “Anything can happen.”
With the Principality Premiership having been revamped in time for this season with 16 teams playing each other in the first half of the campaign before splitting into two divisions of eight in the New Year -and the top teams playing it out for the title – the Ironmen are confident of securing a spot in the top eight. – Additional info: