Hockey World Cup: On emotional day, goalkeeper Reynolds-Cotterill leads Wales to "most significant win"

The Wales team celebrates their win over France with penalty shootout hero Toby Reynolds-Cotteril (in blue). WorldSportPics

Between a 2-1 shootout win over Ireland in October 2021 to qualify for the 2023 FIH Men's Hockey World Cup and a 2-1 shootout win over France in the tournament's classification round on Thursday here, Wales' goalkeeper Toby Reynolds-Cotterill has seen his world shift upside down.

That win over Ireland was the last time Reynolds-Cotterill's father saw his son play for the country. "He watched every game I ever played. He'd have loved to have been here, he was talking about it, and it would have been amazing. If he were watching, he'd have been happy with how it turned out today," he said, after making four saves in a shootout victory that has now seen Wales finish in the top 12 at their first-ever men's World Cup.

Reynolds-Cotterill called it the most significant result in Welsh Men's Hockey. "It probably means a little bit more to me, because a year ago yesterday, my father passed away."

"To do that today, a year on, I know he'd be very proud even though he's not here. It means a lot," he said.

Reynolds-Cotterill also used the opportunity to call for the Welsh team to spend more time training together. "We trained once between August and November," he said, "with that, to play against teams that train all the time, it makes it so much harder."

The Welsh also have a double-edged sword to their progress in the form of Team Great Britain. Reynolds-Cotterill is part of Team GB's goalkeeper group alongside England's Ollie Payne and James Mazarelo. At 25, he's the oldest of the three, which he calls ridiculous. "Any other squad, I'd probably be the youngest," he chuckled.

"We have three guys here [in the Wales squad] who are part of the GB setup, and we've kicked on from there," the goalkeeper said. "For our sake, I hope we get more guys in the GB setup, or get some more training on our own, which obviously is more difficult."

Wales's next big assignment will be the European Championships in August, and Reynolds-Cotterill is taking heart from their showings this month in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. "We've shown that we can go toe-to-toe with teams like India and France. We can be proud of what we've achieved, but it's a learning curve. In these tournaments, you need to be fighting and firing 100% from the start," he said.

On an emotional day for Reynolds-Cotterill, he was the protagonist in a history-making day for his country. Top 12 this time, they're hungry to go higher in 2026.