Clive Rowlands obituary


Welsh rugby was at a low ebb when Clive Rowlands, a gritty 24-year-old scrum half, was awarded not simply his first worldwide cap but in addition, extra surprisingly, the crew captaincy for the primary match of the 1963 5 Nations season in opposition to England at Cardiff Arms Park.

On a January day so chilly that the gamers remained within the altering rooms for the nationwide anthems, Wales went right down to a 13-6 defeat. For Rowlands, who has died aged 85, it was a deceptively disappointing overture to a protracted and illustrious profession that may see him change into the one Welshman to play for, coach and handle the nationwide crew.

England’s victory was the final they’d get pleasure from in Cardiff till 1991. So full would Wales’s dominance change into that when Rowlands was requested, in the course of the 1987 Rugby World Cup, how the crew he now managed would react to their defeat by the All Blacks within the semi-finals, his response was unhesitating: they merely would go, he stated, “again to beating England yearly”. It was a joke, and it wasn’t. Not everybody took it effectively.

Nor did Rowlands win mates amongst opponents and neutrals in his second match as Wales’s captain, in opposition to Scotland a month later. Searching for a primary victory at Murrayfield in 10 years, he got down to nullify Scotland’s superiority in open play by kicking for contact incessantly, at each alternative and from any place, a tactic legitimised by the legal guidelines of the sport as they then stood.

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Clive Rowlands in 1963. {Photograph}: Mirrorpix/Getty Photos

It could be claimed that there have been no fewer than 111 lineouts over the 80 minutes. On a pitch swept of snow that morning, the guests gained 6-0 with a penalty kick by their full again, Grahame Hodgson, and a Rowlands drop aim. Spectators derived extra leisure from a snowball struggle in the course of the half-time interval.

The unsatisfactory nature of the match hastened a change within the legal guidelines to disallow kicking instantly into contact from outdoors what was then the 25-yard (now 22-metre) line. Using a double layer of forwards on the lineout was additionally outlawed.

There was way more to Rowlands, nonetheless, than cold-blooded exploitation of the rulebook. At a time when a gaggle of selectors named the crew after which anticipated them to get on with it, he grew to become the chief in each respect, passionately invoking Welsh pleasure throughout his pre-match talks. In 14 internationals over three seasons, with David Watkins as his half-back accomplice every time, and such superb gamers because the winger Dewi Bebb, the No 8 Alun Pask and the full-back prodigy Terry Value, he led Wales to a share of the 5 Nations championship (with Scotland) in 1964 and to sole declare to the title and the Triple Crown the next yr. Solely within the warmth of a tour to South Africa did the crew wilt.

His nickname was “Prime Cat”, borrowed from the favored TV cartoon character, and there was widespread shock when he misplaced his place within the aspect earlier than the 1966 5 Nations season. Rowlands would return as coach from 1968 till 1974, profitable the 5 Nations in 1969 and the Triple Crown in 1971. Paving the way in which for a decade of dominance, he created a platform for such future nationwide legends because the halfbacks Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Phil Bennett, the winger Gerald Davies, the full-back JPR Williams, the flanker John Taylor and the No 8 Mervyn Davies.

He was born to Edna and Tom Rowlands, within the village of Higher Cwmtwrch, within the Swansea Valley. Two siblings, a brother and a sister, had already predeceased him when, on the age of eight, Clive was identified with tuberculosis, his schooling at Maesydderwen college disrupted whereas he spent two years in a sanatorium at Craig-y-nos, within the mountains above Swansea. One other sister succumbed to the identical illness, and his father, a coalminer, died of a lung illness when Clive was 11.

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Clive Rowlands throughout a crew speak in 1966. {Photograph}: SE Stephens/Getty Photos

Restored to well being, he flourished as an adolescent and was chosen to tour South Africa with the Welsh faculties rugby crew. On finishing his nationwide service with the RAF, he taught PE at a college in Cwmbran earlier than switching to change into a rep for a prescription drugs firm. He performed membership rugby principally for Pontypool but in addition for Llanelli and Swansea.

As soon as his enjoying and training days had been over, he accepted a spot on the Welsh Rugby Union’s common committee. As supervisor of the worldwide crew within the Eighties, he helped information Wales to 3rd place within the Rugby World Cup. In 1989, in the course of the yr he served as president of the WRU, he took the British and Irish Lions to Australia, the place they misplaced just one match and gained the Take a look at sequence. As a broadcaster in his later years, he retained sturdy opinions in regards to the organisation and course of Welsh rugby.

In 1962 he married Margaret Jeffreys. She and their youngsters, Megan and Dewi, survive him.


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