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Pitch perfect; They're the boyband with a difference who are raising money for injured rugby players with a new charity single. Karen Price meets the man who founded Tenors Of Rock.

FOR any Welsh rugby fan, this weekend will be an exciting - but rather tense - time as Wales take on England in the final Six Nations clash at the Millennium Stadium.

But for Gareth Richards it's going to be an extra special occasion, as his voice will be heard echoing around the stadium before kick-off.

The WRU will be playing the new charity single, Brothers In Arms, which he's recorded with his band Tenors Of Rock.

Available to download from Sunday, it will raise funds for the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust, which supports former rugby players who were injured on the pitch.

But the six-piece band won't be there to hear the 72,000-strong crowd's response - they'll be en-route to Newtown to support Rhydian Roberts on his tour.

"We would have loved to have been there to have performed it live but we have to be in Newtown," says Richards, who is from Cardiff.

"We were then thinking perhaps we could sneak in to hear the recording before getting on the road but that would then mean we wouldn't make it in Newtown in time to watch the game on TV. But my mum and dad will be there."

The track is a cover version of the massive Dire Straits hit and frontman Mark Knopfler has given his backing.

"We've been told he likes our version," says Richards who admits that it was a challenge to adapt it.

"Ours is quite heavy on the vocals. The original version was about 10 minutes long and we had to get it down to four minutes for radio play. We had to make sure that we kept the heart of the song but added the Tenors Of Rock stamp to it, which is big powerful vocals. It was a big ask really. But we felt the track, Brothers In Arms, went hand in hand with rugby."

The track will be available to download on Sunday and Richards hopes it will be a celebration of Wales winning the championship.

"We are hoping for a big Welsh win on Saturday so that people can then celebrate by downloading our single on Sunday. But even if Wales don't win, people should buy it anyway," he laughs.

The single will be officially launched on March 23 with a gig at Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff. While the men are currently supporting former X Factor star Roberts with gigs in Cardiff and Newtown this weekend, it will be their first headliner.

"It will be a celebration of the single." Richards formed Tenors Of Rock three years ago with the aim of reinventing the standard male vocal group. The tenors - Richards along with Dai Richards, Gaz Chart, Jaymz Denning, Jon Williams and Hugh Maynard - perform classic rock tracks like Sweet Child O' Mine, Livin' On A Prayer and Bed Of Roses to a live band or a backing track.

"There are so many classical crossover groups and standard boybands so we decided to experiment with rock music," says 29-year-old Richards.

"Instead of a frontman we have six of us. We're not classical tenors but rock singers with a tenor vocal range."

Their fan base is fast increasing and among them is Welsh boxing legend Joe Calzaghe who has said: "The boys are amazing - they sing like I fight."

While they won't make it to the Millennium Stadium this weekend, they will be at the home of Welsh rugby on March 30 for Judgement Day - an event to promote club rugby which will see the Dragons take on the Scarlets and the Cardiff Blues take on the Ospreys.

There will be a host of entertainment on the pitch between the matches with Tenors Of Rock among the performers.

For rugby fan Richards, there couldn't be a more perfect setting for a gig.

"I was brought up playing a lot of sport, including rugby," says the singer, who once played squash for Wales.

"I'm a Blues fan as I was born and bred in Cardiff. Jonathan Davies was my idol while growing up."

Now he's hoping the rugby fans will show their support for Tenors Of Rock as well as their favourite team.

"It's a great charity so we just hope the single does really well."

Brothers In Arms is available to download on Sunday from iTunes, Google, Amazon & Spotify. The launch party takes place at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff on March 23. Tenors Of Rock support Rhydian Roberts at St David's Hall, Cardiff tonight; Theatr Hafren, Newtown tomorrow; Y Ffwrnes, Llanelli on March 21; Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon on March 22 and Blake Theatre, Monmouth on April 6

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Gareth Richards, centre, with the rest of Tenors Of Rock
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 15, 2013
Words:778
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