Rugby star mix-up in torch relay

Matt Smith carrying the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Cardiff

Matt Smith carrying the Olympic Flame on the Torch Relay leg through Cardiff

First published in National News © by

An Olympic torch-carrying carpenter got more than five minutes of fame when he was mistaken for a top-flight rugby hero.

Matthew Rees carried the Olympic flame around Merthyr Tydfil in front of an expectant crowd, then did an interview with BBC Radio Wales.

Around one million people have already witnessed the Olympic torch on its high-profile tour on the country. Part of the attraction for some is the prospect of seeing a celebrity carry the Olympic flame along part of the course.

Doctor Who star Matt Smith kicked off Saturday's tour of Wales with an early-morning start in front of a massed crowd at Cardiff Bay.

Others were apparently expecting to see Scarlets hero Matthew Rees, the Celtic League rugby star and Wales and British Lions international. Instead they got a local of the same name who, through no fault of his own, was assumed to be his more famous namesake.

After his five-minute tour of Merthyr Tydfil he popped up for interview on a live BBC Radio Wales show from the town. Presenter Chris Corcoran was also expecting the rugby star instead of a local carpenter.

In a moment of mirth he asked Mr Rees, also a part-time administrator for skiing and shooting biathlons, to just pretend to be the rugby star.

"Just in case people who are listening really are disappointed, let's do a quick interview with you as Matthew Rees the rugby player. Can we do that?"

"Yeah," a laughing Mr Rees said.

The brief comic number was quickly concluded to warm applause for the carpenter from Merthyr Tydfil. "Oh thanks Matt, that's really brilliant. We'll leave you to go because we know you've got to shoot off," his inquisitor said.

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