John Idwal Rees Wales v Scotland
Left: John Idwal Rees running with the ball. Top Right: Idwal in a pre-match photoshoot. Bottom Right: One of Idwal's Welsh jerseys and a Scottish jersey that he swapped. Image credit: Roger Rees

Land of my fathers: Why this proud Scot will wear red for Wales’ Six Nations opener

In 1934, my great-grandfather John Idwal Rees blew a raspberry at the Scottish crowd after scoring a try for Wales

WALES kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland tomorrow. I am a proud Scot but on Saturday I will be wearing red in the Principality Stadium. 

Wales is literally the Land of my Fathers and my main rugby influence. 

Ninety years ago, my great-grandfather, John Idwal Rees, played for Wales against Scotland in Edinburgh, in what was then the Four Nations Championship.

Wales team photo v England 1934. Idwal is sitting third from the right in the middle row.

Rugby was very different back then. It was not professional and Idwal, who was born in Swansea, was a teacher at Fettes College in Edinburgh at the time.  

On the Saturday morning of the 1934 game, he was teaching a Latin lesson in which his Scottish pupils teased him about a potential home win. 

During the game Idwal, who played as a centre, scored a try and got his own back by blowing a raspberry at the schoolchildren in the crowd. Wales went on to win the game 13 – 6. 

Idwal played five times against Scotland, all while he lived in Edinburgh where he played for Edinburgh Wanderers Rugby Club.  

Left: Idwal (second from right) attempting to tackle an English player at the old Cardiff Arms Park in 1935.
Right: Inside the Principality Stadium in 2023. Image Credit: Laura Stark.

He also played four times against England and Ireland, and once against New Zealand in 1935 – a game which Wales won 13-12. 

After that win, Wales had won two out of three games against the All Blacks. The aggregate score is now 33-3 in New Zealand’s favour.  

In 1938, at the age of 28, Idwal retired from international rugby after earning 14 caps and captaining the Welsh side twice. He left Edinburgh, returning to Wales to take up a headmaster position at Cowbridge Grammar School.