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Wales and Scarlets hooker awarded Honorary Fellowship

Wales and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens joined hundreds of students collecting their degrees at UWTSD’s Carmarthen campus (Tuesday, 9 July).

Born in Carmarthen, the Lions star has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship by his Hometown University.  Ken attended Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin, and began his career at Carmarthen Athletic RFC before he moved to UWIC RFC when he began studying at the University in 2005. Ken made his Scarlets debut towards the end of the 2005–06 season.

On 15 February 2010, Ken was called up to the Wales squad for the 2010 Six Nations, and in June 2011, he was called up to Wales’ 45-man training squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He made his debut for Wales in their third pool match at the tournament on 26 September 2011, and in the 2012 Six Nations, Ken was involved in all five games as Wales claimed the Grand Slam.
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On receiving the award, Ken Owens commented:

“I grew up less than hundred metres from the University and it has played a huge part in my life growing up.  I had the opportunity to study here for a short period until rugby commitments changed my focus.   To receive this award is a huge honour and to see the people who’ve received it in years gone by just shows how important and how much of a privilege it really is.”

Ken also took the opportunity to offer some advice to the graduates. He added:

“My advice would be to keep working hard keep but to enjoy it. Whatever you end up doing it’s so important that you enjoy what you’re doing.  Listen and learn and do not be afraid of the challenge.”

Presenting the Scarlets captain to the congregation was Ceredig Emanuel, Head of School: Sport, Health & Outdoor Education. He said:

During my 27 years at this University it has been a great privilege and honour for me to present as honorary fellows many notable sporting legends who have represented our country at the highest level. Barry John, a former student of this campus, the late Ray Gravell, Phil Bennett, also Gerald Davies, Delme Thomas and Roy Bergiers who are with us here today. But not just followers of the oval ball. Laura McAllister and Chris Coleman from the world of football, Hedydd Davies of athletics and the extraordinary Non Evans who excelled at national level in judo, rugby, weightlifting and freestyle wrestling.

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“However, unlike all of the former recipients of honorary fellows, today I present to you a craftsman who is still plying his trade, still a professional athlete, who is currently preparing for his third rugby world cup with the Welsh squad, to be hosted in Japan this autumn.

“This young man is Kenneth James Owens, a Carmarthen man born and bred, through and through. Ken, a professional rugby player who has never left his region, never forgotten his deep Carmarthen roots, and is most passionate about his Welsh heritage and language. Describing Ken’s commitment to the cause as ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ would be an understatement. Just watch his next rendition of ‘Hen Wald fy Nhadau’ in the next international!”

Ken was selected for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Wales’ 31-man squad and came off the bench in the 23–19 quarter final loss against South Africa. Ken’s 50th test was in a 20–18 loss to France in the 2017 Six Nations Championship, in which he played the entire game, including the 20 minutes of injury time at the end of the second half. Ken was subsequently selected for the British and Irish Lions’ tour to New Zealand and played six matches on the tour, captaining the side in their 22–16 defeat to the Blues in Auckland.

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