Released by the Dragons during the summer, the 19-year-old former Newport High School star began the 2019 Six Nations U20 campaign uncapped and as third choice scrum-half in Gareth Williams’ Wales squad.
By the end of the tournament he had five caps to his name and increased that total to nine after last year’s World Rugby U2o Championship in Argentina. An injury to Harri Morgan gave him the chance to act as back-up to Jamie Hill in the Six Nations and he just went from strength to strength from there.
Morgan suffered illness after the opening game in Argentina last summer and that gave Buckland the chance to step in and make a name for himself, playing against defending champions France, Fiji and former champions New Zealand. He was named as the Player’s Player of the match in the famous win over the junior All Blacks.
He started against Italy and Ireland in this year’s Six Nations before coming on to replace Cardiff Met’s Ellis Bevan against England and Scotland to take his tally of Wales U20 caps to 13. Lockdown robbed him of the chance to further increase his cap count at this summer’s World Cup.
“Pontypridd are a club with a lot of tradition and great support. What I want more than anything is game-time and an opportunity to secure a professional contract. I want to show what I can do. This is a new chapter for me now and I look forward to a fresh start with Ponty” – Dafydd Buckland
Often criticised for his lack of size, Buckland has all the skills to become a top-flight No 9. The Dragons have Welsh internationals Rhodri Williams and Tavis Knoyle in their squad and they are backed up by another former Wales U20 cap, Dan Babos.
“I don’t even think about being the smallest on the field. I just try and use my size to my advantage and try and outsmart the opposition,” said Buckland, who weighs in at 77kgs and stands 5’ 9” tall.
“I would like to get a lot more rugby next season than I have had in previous years. I just want to try and get my game time as high as possible.
“Last season I spent a lot of time on development blocks – I was on a development block from the end of Celtic Cup to the start of the Six Nations basically – so only played one game in that time.”
He will compete with club favourite Joel Raikes for the scrum half berth at Sardis Road and hope to follow previous Wales U20 players Dane Blacker (Scarlets) and Jamie Hill (Blues) into senior regional squads.