Wales v Portugal: Parents of captain Dewi Lake pitch up in France to see son at Rugby World Cup

  • ITV Wales sports reporter Matt Southcombe sat down with Dewi's parents at their campsite on the eve of their son's first World Cup game

As Wales get ready to take on Portugal in their second World Cup game, just half an hour away from the stadium in Nice are some very proud parents.

Louvain and David Lake are the mother and father of 24-year-old Dewi Lake - who takes to the pitch on Saturday as Wales' captain.

It is his first Rugby World Cup tournament and his parents admit that after a tough year of injuries, it was "touch and go" as to whether they would be sat where they are now - in France at their campsite preparing to meet their son on the eve of his World Cup debut.

Dewi's proud parents will be watching on as Wales take on Portugal Credit: ITV Wales

They have been staying at campsites across France, driving to the game cities and waiting to see their son take to the pitch. Although they are not on home soil, wherever they have pitched up, it has not taken long to find other Welsh fans.

"I love meeting everybody on the campsite," Louvain said.

"I think it's a rugby community thing, like we all start on the side of the pitch no matter where you end up.

"I'm never happier than when I'm on the side of that pitch and close to the game and shouting and there's so many happy memories. Like Dewi used to come to watch David play.

"Dewi was the waterboy so he was running up and down the pitch then - and those are the people we're meeting and having fun with."

Louvain described the experience of her son representing his country in rugby as "surreal", and the contrast of being at the campsite for the tournament to when they are out in France with him.

She said: "We're just going up to the laundry and bumping into people the same as we do at home kind of thing and then we're out with Dewi and there's people coming up for photographs and stuff.

"It's just surreal. Of course we're so proud but I'm proud of both of my kids all of the time always.

"The fact that he's achieving his dream, I'm proud of the determination and resilience he's shown. Particularly in the last year, when it's just been injury after injury, which is part of the game...but it's not always easy to pick yourself up and go again, and again, and again and he has done that."

Louvain and David have been showing their support from their campervan in France Credit: ITV Wales

Dewi, who plays for the Ospreys, suffered a knee injury at Twickenham in one of Wales' World Cup warm-up games against England. It meant he was not ready to play in the team's first game of the tournament, where they beat Fiji 32-26 after a tense final few minutes.

But now head coach Warren Gatland has put Dewi at the helm of the team. The hooker has nine caps for Wales but this is his first World Cup and by far the biggest moment of his career so far.

Louvain said the achievement was amazing, "especially when you're seeing players with like 50 or 100 caps following him out."

She added: "Obviously we know that Dewi is on the start of his development as a captain and we're not suggesting for a moment that he is anything like those players, because he's got a long way to go to sustain where he is, but it makes you realise the hugeness of it"

Dewi's dad also described his son leading the Wales team to face Portugal as "surreal" but a result of his determined personality and background competing in gymnastics.

"To see where he's got himself is amazing, it's a dream for us as well," he said.

"Dewi is a determined character anyway, Dewi won't take a backwards step for anybody. And he had a good foundation through gymnastics, he had good rugby people around him as he was growing up and yeah, he's gone on to do well."

He said his son is "sweet and strong-minded" and he is confident that Dewi has the support in place to deal with the pressure that comes with the role - particularly if things do not go to plan for Wales on Saturday or further down the line in general.

The 24-year-old's dad said: "There's ups and downs in everything, there's ups and downs in life.

"If Dewi is on a down, we're there for him. We're there to help him, pick him up and give him the encouragement he needs. And when he's up, we enjoy it as much as he does. We enjoy seeing it."

Louvain agreed that her son has "been taking it in his stride and has a great support system around him".

She praised Warren Gatland's decision to choose two co-captains for the tournament, with Jac Morgan leading the side in Wales' first World Cup game. Now it is Dewi's turn to take charge and he will be hoping to continue his team's success.

Louvain said: "I think it's an outstanding decision that he's in it with Jac as well. I think for two young, inexperienced - when you look at the world that they are against - players to have each other during this time is a really good decision.

"They've got a great relationship and Jac's parents are lovely."

David added: "They room-share every tournament, so they're bouncing off each other."

Dewi's dad described his son leading the Wales team to face Portugal as "surreal" Credit: ITV Wales

In terms of tournament predictions, David agrees with Gatland that Wales will "surprise a few people".

"We've got a tough one next week against Australia," he said.

"But one game at a time, let's take it a week at a time...we could do good things.

"We've got an inner strength and when we really need to pick our game up, we tend to."

Louvain is even more clear cut in her ambition, saying a win for Wales "every game until October 28th" is where her sights are set, adding "they're more than capable to do it".

The clash against Australia takes place in Lyon on Sunday 24 September. The team then have a break before heading to Nantes for the last game of the group stages on Saturday 7 October.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…