Gerwyn Price: Darts’ ‘Iceman’ reflects on Wales rugby dreams

Gerwyn Price (middle) won the Swalec Cup with Cross Keys at the Millennium Stadium - now the Principality Stadium - in 2012.
Gerwyn Price (middle) won the Swalec Cup with Cross Keys at the Millennium Stadium – now the Principality Stadium – in 2012

In under two weeks Gerwyn Price could be crowned world darts champion, but given his time again he may have been representing Wales on a global stage in a different sport.

Before his meteoric rise up the darts world rankings, ‘The Iceman’ could be found packing down in the middle of the front row in a scrum.

The 35-year-old former hooker represented Wales at under-21 level before playing for Welsh Premiership sides Cross Keys and Neath, as well as having a brief spell in the Pro12 with Glasgow Warriors.

And while Price’s focus now is on trying to cap off what has been a brilliant year for him on the oche, he told the Scrum V podcast he does wonder what might have been.

“I had great times and great memories of rugby and I’ve got great memories from darts now, but I would have loved a Welsh cap,” said Price.

“That’s something I’ve always dreamt of since I was really, really young and while I don’t think I’d give everything up for one cap, I just wish I could give rugby another crack, go back a few years.

“I’d go back and do a lot of things differently and give rugby that little bit extra. I wasn’t as mature back then as what I am now and I think about what would have been.

“I always believed in my ability but I just never got my full international cap.

“I think I sort of missed the boat a little bit. I wasn’t good to myself – I used to like going out having a few beers so that didn’t help.

“I look back and think, if I hadn’t had left Cross Keys, could I have had a better chance getting in with the Dragons, getting the foot through the door?

“But then I probably would never have been a darts player.”

In 2020 alone, Price has won eight titles; the World Cup of Darts with compatriot Jonny Clayton, four Players Championship events, the Belgian Darts Championship, World Series of Darts and World Grand Prix of Darts.

Gerwyn Price rugby player
Gerwyn Price left Cross Keys in February 2014 to rejoin a struggling Neath team

And Price admits his rapid rise, which has led to him becoming the first Welshman to break into the top three of the PDC’s Order of Merit, came as a surprise even to him.

“I know if I win this World Championship I can be world number one,” said Price.

“I’ve been playing like five or six years. If I was told that five or six years ago I would have just said, ‘You are having me on’, but it’s just crazy how things change.

“Like I said, I miss the rugby but everything happens for a reason and it’s a good experience playing darts.”

There are a limited number of comparisons to be made between rugby union and darts, but one thing they do share is passionate followings.

Describing himself as “Marmite”, Price has divided darts fans across the globe thanks to his behaviour during matches.

Often loud and never shy of celebrating successful throws, Price has been reprimanded in the past for his actions, including after a bad-tempered Grand Slam of Darts final against Gary Anderson in 2018.

Price insists his behaviour is never an attempt to put off an opponent. Instead, he says, it is about drawing off the energy of the ever raucous darts crowds to improve his game.

At this year’s World Championship however, Price will have to draw inspiration from elsewhere, as all players compete in an empty and eerily quiet Alexandra Palace.

Gerwyn Price vs Michael van Gerwen
Gerwyn Price took 20 attempts to beat Michael van Gerwen before finally doing so in 2019’s Grand Slam of Darts

“People say I do things to put people off but that’s the sort of way I play and I feed off that adrenaline,” said Price.

“I’m not going up there to make people like me, I’m up there to be myself and to earn a living.

“You know I’m like Marmite, they’ll either love me or hate me. Majority of them hate me I think but I don’t mind.

“But the crowds are buzzing when you win. I think I played Michael Smith last year when he took out a 170, the next leg I take out a 170 on the bullseye and the whole place went nuts and pints were going everywhere, it’s crazy and brilliant.”

Price’s love of darts is clear in every match he plays. The bigger the stage, the bigger the smile.

But when pressed, he says he would probably pick success at the top-end of rugby rather than darts given the choice.

“I played for the Wales Under-21s and I know what it’s like but I don’t know what it’s like to play against England to win a Grand Slam in the Millennium Stadium,” he said.

“I mean, I would give everything up for that, but until you’ve done it once you don’t know what to expect.

“People say to me, ‘I’d love to play darts, I’d love to be able to play on stage’ but now it just comes as second nature to me so and it’s hard to decide.

“What would I have preferred? Playing for Wales or playing darts? I think I probably would have preferred to play rugby to be honest.”

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