24 March 2020 / Club News

Ieuan Strutt: 2003-2020

Earlier this month, Penallta RFC was struck with the sad news that Ieuan Strutt, one of our youth players, tragically lost his life. Ieuan was just 17 years old.

Ieuan had played rugby for Penallta since he was a young boy, part of one of Penallta’s most successful and entertaining age grade teams. Despite his wiry, small stature, Ieuan played prop forward, and was as brave and fierce as any of the boys twice his size. His all action style suited the superb side he played in, and he was part of many brilliant tries and wonderful moments throughout his playing life.

Over the years Ieuan won many trophies with his playing group, and had an exciting future ahead of him. At the beginning of last season, as he prepared for his final year of age grade rugby with the Under 16s, , Ieuan stepped up to training with Penallta Youth. He had chronic problems with his knee but looked a real talent. There are few props who could side-step, tackle and run with the ball like Ieuan could. As with many boys emerging through at that age, it became clear that Ieuan would need to change his position. As the coaches began filtering the 16 year olds into the youth squad to help their progression into a more senior level of rugby, he was busting to be a part of it, so the coaches worked on converting him to back row forward.

He took to his new position with determination and made his debut for Penallta Youth last spring. He was impressively brave and dogged in the tackle area and had absolutely no fear of the older opposition. So impressed were the coaches with his attitude that Ieuan got invited into Penallta Youth’s final squad for last year’s Welsh Youth Plate final, as a travelling reserve. It was a great honour for a young player, not yet even at youth age level, to be part of a final at the Principality Stadium.

Ieuan’s tragic loss will be felt particularly keenly across the club. Ieuan’s father Robert played age-grade rugby for Ystrad Mynach Mini and Juniors, before they formally became Penallta M&Js. Robert was also a tough front row forward. Ieuan’s Mam Clare is a long-term member of the Penallta family and has supported the club for three decades. Her Dad, and Ieuan’s Grandfather, Steve Jackson, served on the Penallta committee for well over a decade. And it is Ieuan’s uncles who are best known at the club. Ieuan’s older uncle Andrew was one of Penallta’s finest ever players and was destined for a Welsh youth cap until he threw his talent and resources into his military career as a Sergeant Major. Then Ieuan’s younger uncle Matthew is also a Penallta legend, having played hundreds of games for the club and captained the Penallta Troopers for many years. Matthew also served for years as a soldier, doing tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was Matthew who dedicated his efforts into Ieuan’s rugby career. Matthew was a huge part of the coaching staff at Ieuan’s age grade and he will feel that he’s lost not just a nephew but a player with a great future ahead of him.

Last year Ieuan fulfilled his life-long dream to become a soldier in the British army. He began his training and was proud to follow in his uncles’ footsteps but sadly his knee injury prevented him from continuing his training. Ieuan was devastated and returned to Wales, to rejoin his family and his friends in Penallta Youth.

Following the tragic news, a fund was set-up by Penallta coach Matthew Angel to raise money in Ieuan’s memory and to help his family through a desperate time. The fund raised thousands of pounds in no time at all, underlining the family ethos at the club, and how well it pulls together in times of adversity.

Ieuan had a lots of friends at the club and he will be really missed by us all. His life may have been short but he certainly took to everything he did with a bravery, commitment and guts for which his family should be enormously proud.


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