IT is very difficult to imagine Penarth RFC without one of its erstwhile servants, the admirable and highly-regarded Stuart ‘Stu’ Davies, team stalwart, club statistician, kit manager and life-long supporter who passed away at the age of 77 last week.
Born in Penarth in 1944, Stu, one of the four sons of local man Len Davies, went to St Joseph School, where he started playing rugby, together with the current club president John Davey.
After school, he joined the Royal Navy, where he spent his entire rugby playing career aboard HMS Bulwark, HMS Raleigh, HMS Devonshire and HMS Centaur, the later as captain of the first XV.
He returned to civilian life in 1985, when he joined the marine department of Cardiff Port Authority as operations manager.
During his time with the Port Authority he met again his old school friend John Davey, at the time the supervisor of the Port Cargo operations and also the secretary of Penarth RFC.
John talked his old school friend into joining the Penarth RFC club committee, taking over as kit manager, a position he retained for the following 35 years, before the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic.
In due course, Stu Davies became the club’s main statistician, having managed to compile the post-war club database, which is now widely used by the club.
“Without his extraordinary comprehensive and accurate work, the volume ‘The Spirit of Penarth’ would have never been published,” said author and former club secretary Chris Thau.
Former Penarth RFC chairman Mike Gooding has described Stu as one of the kindest and most considerate men he had the privilege to deal with in his entire playing and administrative career with the seaside club.
He said: “I cannot imagine the club without him, somewhere in the background, with his little notebook keeping track of scores and scorers.
“Stuart was a proper gentlemen and I have not met anybody who could say a bad word about him.
“He was a lovely human being, full of compassion and humanity. He was just one of a kind and will be sorely missed.”
Stuart was a good family man. He married Janet, a NHS nurse, and they had a wonderful daughter Rhinna, whom he absolutely adored.
Sadly, during the last couple of years his health had deteriorated, though he made brave efforts to carry on trying to help the struggling rugby club. At the end of October he had a stroke while driving his car and ended up in hospital, where the Covid-19 lockdown prevented him from seeing his family for several months, which left him very upset and both Janet and Rhinna heartbroken. “He lost ten stones in weight and seemed to have aged 20 years in 10 days,” explained his daughter.
Thankfully, he was determined to see his loved ones and say goodbye, as Rhinna explained, so he resolutely battled against the odds, making sure he was able to see them by the end of April when the lockdown was relaxed.
“He has waited for us,” said Rhinna. “We went to see him and mum said that he was waiting for us and his brother Keith to say goodbye.”
There is very little doubt Penarth RFC will never be the same without Stu Davies.