25 November 2020
Video conference calls have become a part of the daily work routine for many people during 2020.
However, for staff of the Medicine Clinical Board at the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, their Thursday afternoon internal communications meeting turned out to be anything but ordinary as they were joined on the line by Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.
What was supposed to be a meeting to launch their new internal communications initiative turned out to be a question and answer session with the world's most capped international rugby player, who joined the call from the Wales team's training ground at the Vale Resort.
Frontline staff including medics, nurses and administrative staff who are at their homes and offices, and those who were in the lecture theatre based at the University Hospital of Wales, questioned Alun Wyn on how to lead a team, how to keep team morale high and how to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and working conditions.
The surprise call was arranged by S4C's Clwb Rygbi programme and the WRU as a gesture of gratitude to hard-working NHS staff for their tireless efforts during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Clwb Rygbi presenter Catrin Heledd sprung the surprise on the unsuspecting staff by interrupting their meeting with a camera crew.
Catrin said: "I can safely say that no one was expecting to see Alun Wyn Jones join their meeting. They asked questions that crossed the boundaries between the two different areas of work, and Alun Wyn spoke brilliantly.
"It was a real privilege to be there and I hope that it gave them a lift to know that the captain of Wales was thinking about them."
Wales rugby captain, Alun Wyn Jones.
Aled Roberts, Medicine Clinical Board Director, Medicine Clinical Board, said: "The staff were so surprised to see Alun Wyn Jones 'gatecrash' our internal meeting but what better person to have join us!
"The team were delighted when they had a chance to ask him questions and were personally touched by his message of thanks.
"It was a wonderful boost to team morale, particularly as we face a challenging Winter and we're so grateful that he took the time out to speak to us."
Alun Wyn Jones said in the meeting: "The difference you're making to society and communities is massive, so a huge thank you on behalf of our families, the squad and everyone involved with the Welsh Rugby Union.
"A lot is said about how bad things are and how bad things are going to be, but ultimately there's people like yourselves who are key workers, who are showing a shining example.
And when asked to name the best manager he worked under, he answered: "Gats [Warren Gatland] would edge it because a lot of my caps were won there, but the adaptation, the change and hopefully the evolution of the game we're going to have with Wales is very exciting at the moment."
Watch the surprise interview in full here, on demand on S4C Clic: https://www.s4c.cymru/clic/programme/810786518 .