A YEAR ago Nathan Thomas was helping his adopted town of Abergavenny triumph at Principality Stadium, a victory that he rates alongside winning the Heineken Cup.

The former Scarlets, Bath and Wales back row forwards came out of retirement to help the club reach the WRU National Bowl final against Oakdale.

It turned out to be a thriller in the capital that went down to the last play, leaving the 44-year-old with no regrets about putting the boots back on.

South Wales Argus:

"I've lived around Abergavenny almost 15 years," said Thomas, who helped Bath become European champions in 1998.

"I've really got a good feel for the town and as my middle boy started playing for the club's mini section, I got to know the passionate people involved and the chairman Huw Beavan who's a local butcher and farmer.

"They are people I could connect to, so it was very easy to say yes and give something back to the club, as they were doing so much for my children.

"The club is a lovely place to spend your weekend so it was a no-brainer to be able to add a bit more to the senior team, there was a good reason for doing it with such good people around.

"I joined the season before last which was a period of transition. At the beginning of that season, we had just 18 players for our first few games but by the end of it we managed to put a second team out.

"Things had already started to turn around and having seen that we were in the top tier of the clubs in the National Bowl after some clubs who had done well had been promoted and were in the Plate, we thought why not go for it.

"New Panteg was our first round match and they were in a lower league but after that we played against teams at the top end of the bracket – Fairwater, Treharris and then an amazing semi-final against Nantgaredig.

"We came from behind in most of the games so we grew some resilience by the time we got to the final that we could win those close games. I think that played a big part in the way we played the final. We stuck to our guns and had belief in ourselves."

Abergavenny trailed 23-20 when awarded a last-minute penalty in front of the posts – a leveller would have led to the trophy being shared.

They rolled the dice and wing Anthony Squire went over for the winner.

South Wales Argus:

"It's still surreal to think about what happened in the last minute or so of the game," said Thomas. "For us as a team, we'd never won anything so we felt we had to go for it, in hindsight we'd have probably got some credit for trying even if it hadn't paid off!

"The finals Day is as good as it gets for community game – it's very special to be part of the triple header and a fantastic day out.

"Being part of that journey with our group of players and coaches at Abergavenny and the way in which we won on the day all combined to ensure it ranks right up there with winning the Heineken Cup."

Abergavenny were going well in Division Two East when coronavirus ended the campaign.

"The confidence we gained that day rolled over into this season and despite being promoted, we became hard to beat," said Thomas.

"When the season ended we were in second position and hopefully we'll continue where we left off in terms of our form and results when rugby resumes."