Carwyn making his mark

Rob LloydNews

Carwyn Tuipulotu has a name with a fascinating back story and a future that’s looking bright.

The young Scarlets No. 8 made more tackles than anyone else in the BKT URC last weekend, putting in no fewer than 24 during his 69 minutes on the pitch against Ulster Rugby.

He also showed his carrying threat and determination by forcing his way over for a try, producing a mighty leg-drive to reach the line despite the attention of three defenders.

It’s been something of a breakthrough season for the 22-year-old who has made 16 appearances, the highest number since he joined the Scarlets in 2021.

He will be looking to add to that tally in Friday night’s league meeting with Zebre Parma out in Italy.

With a number of senior players leaving the region, he’s the kind of young talent who will be very important moving forward.

It’s good to see him making a name for himself – and what a name it is.

So what’s the story there?

Well, you have to go back to 2001 when he was born in Abergavenny during the period his father – Tongan international Kati Tuipulotu – was playing in Wales.

After spells with Dunvant and Neath, powerful No 8 Kati was with Ebbw Vale at the time.

When his son came along, he decided to give him a Welsh name.

“Everyone was so friendly, nice and welcoming, it made a big impression on me,” explains the 16-cap Kati.

“So when my son was born in Neville Hall hospital in 2001, I wanted to give him a Welsh name.

“I used to go to a local Methodist Church, so I asked people there about Welsh names.

“They mentioned a few and I was very interested in the name Carwyn. They told me it means ‘a blessing with love from God’.

“So it was a perfect name for me to choose.

“People thought I named him after Carwyn James, but that is not so!”

In 2005, the Tuipulotu family moved to Merseyside when Kati joined New Brighton RFC, with whom he was to have a lengthy spell, going on to become player-coach.

That was the club where young Carwyn got his first taste of playing rugby ahead of gaining a place at Sedbergh School, in Cumbria, the alma mater of Will Carling, Will Greenwood and John Spencer.

“I loved rugby from my first session when I was about ten,” he recalls.

“I started off at prop, then I played wing, centre and second row, before moving to the back row.”

His obvious ball-carrying talent was recognised by Newcastle Falcons who handed him a spot in their Academy.

But the WRU were keeping tabs on him, with the Welsh Exiles having spotted him playing for Sedbergh in the English NatWest Cup and seen the name Carwyn.

With his roots confirmed, he was selected for Wales U18s, with representative honours to follow with Wales U20s, where he lined up alongside the likes of Dafydd Jenkins, Alex Mann, Christ Tshiunza and Sam Costelow.

Then came the move to Scarlets where he has steadily developed to the point where he is now firmly established in the first team squad, while he has been name-checked by Wales coach Warren Gatland as someone for the future.

The former Swansea University student is a cousin of Taulupe Faletau and the Vunipola brothers, Billy and Mako, while his childhood hero was Springboks World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi.

At 6ft 2ins and 19st, he is a real physical presence and he’s certainly making that frame felt on both sides of the ball.