Whether covering every blade of grass at Eugene Cross Park as a fleet-footed flanker for high-flying Ebbw Vale, or developing the rugby interests of boys and girls as a WRU Hub Officer, Evans is riding high.
Fittingly, he takes the time to chat during a rare quiet moment at the Urdd WRU 7s in Pontcanna, where he’s coaching his Maesteg Comprehensive School year 9s. “I was here yesterday with my year 7 girls too,” he says. “It’s great that the WRU and Urdd have worked together to make this happen. This is the sort of thing that will really push sevens on in Wales.
“Last month I did a sevens workshop, and I’m going to hold some more sevens CPD workshops so I can pass on my experience. This will help upskill coaches so they can use different sevens training drills that are also transferrable to 15s.”
Evans knows full well the benefits of playing the game, with over five years’ of World Rugby Sevens Series experience under his belt. A short-lived stint at Neath came to a close during a period of huge difficulty for the club. Injury to captain Ronnie Kynes left a hole in the Steelmen’s squad – one which a man of Evans’s talents was quickly able to fill.
Amongst other things, he credits head coach Greg Woods with implementing a culture of enjoyment at Ebbw Vale – who currently sit fourth in the Principality Premiership table – and it’s no surprise that the team’s style of play suits a man who has spent most of his professional life sprinting up and down hard pitches across the globe.
“Coming from a sevens background made a huge difference for me stepping into the Premiership, especially with regard to link play, skills and being a bit more confident in the wider channels,” says the 28-year-old. “The speed of the game isn’t like it is in sevens, but lasting 80 minutes instead of 14 took some getting used to.”
Now he feels he’s playing his best rugby in a long while. “Greg and [assistant coach] Lewis Roberts have a big influence from that perspective. They don’t put any pressure on me; they just say, “Lloyd, relax and enjoy it’, and they’ve got the most out of me this year.”
VIDEO: Click here to watch Lloyd Evans delight the Ebbw Vale fans with a try against Bedwas.
Back at Maesteg Comp, down the road from his hometown of Bridgend, he and his team run an inclusive programme which offers rugby to boys and girls. In a fantastic new addition to the programme, that will now also include special education needs pupils.
“Now that it’s summer, we’re looking to increase sevens participation. The pupils love playing this form of the game, so I’m really happy to be able to share with them my experiences of playing sevens.”
Whether it be as a rugby player or a hub officer, Evans sings the praises of the sevens programme, whilst also nodding to some of its other notable graduates. “Luke Morgan and Sam Cross made the transition from sevens to 15s really well, winning Welsh caps and playing regional rugby week in, week out. The programme obviously works.”
As for the tough times Wales Sevens have endured this season with their youthful but undeniably talented squad, Evans says he expects them to come good. “A lot of boys left last year so it’s been an almost total remapping of the squad, but these boys will learn so much from it. Performing skills under pressure on the World Series against these big sides, you learn so much in such a short space of time. Your fitness improves too, but it’s just huge for your overall skills. Sevens is such a good tool to have because it adds so much to your game.”
Another big departure from the sevens squad last season was the indomitable figure of Adam Thomas, whom Evans came up against when Ebbw Vale met Merthyr last month. “It was good to play against him. We do miss being with the sevens, but we were due a change and it’s paid off for us.”
Former Wales Sevens top points scorer Rhys Jones is the Ebbw Vale fly-half, and his last-minute drop goals have been game-winning efforts on one or two occasions this season. “There’s a few boys who have played sevens that are carving up in the Prem, which is good to see,” says Evans.
“As for Ebbw Vale, we’ve got three home games on the bounce, and when we’re at home we’re always confident of winning. If we do that we’ll aim to finish on a high in Cardiff in the last game of the season.”