Cliff Morgan Obituary

Former British & Irish Lions captain Cliff Morgan has died after a long battle with illness at the age of 83. [more]

Cliff Morgan Obituary

Former British & Irish Lions captain Cliff Morgan has died after a long battle with illness at the age of 83.

A legendary figure for Cardiff, Wales and the British & Irish Lions, he scored 21 points on the 1955 tour of South Africa, captaining the side in the third Test, before forging a career in broadcasting after his playing days were over.

Born in Trebanog, in the Rhondda, on 7 April, 1930, fly-half Morgan will perhaps best be remembered for his commentary during the 1973 between the Barbarians and the All Blacks and his description of Gareth Edwards' infamous try.

"This is great stuff… Phil Bennett covering ..……chased by Alistair Scown… brilliant… Ooooh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Bryan Williams …Pullin, John Dawes …Great dummy! …David, Tom David …the half way line …Brilliant by Quinnell! This is Gareth Edwards! …A dramatic start! …what a score! Oh that fellow Edwards!"

During the 1955 Lions tour, Morgan scored one of the greatest tries in Lions history to steer the tourists to victory in the first Test.

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Captain in the third Test – another victory – Morgan became a global star as the tourists shared the series 2-2 against the mighty Springboks, he became the choirmaster both on and off the field.

"We came to the decision that we were going to be a singing team. I was appointed choirmaster, with first call on the hotel piano, and every day for a week we practiced, English, Scottish and Irish songs in English, Welsh songs in Welsh and, in a four-part harmony, Sarie Marais in Afrikaans, which we thought would go down well with the people over there. We learned this parrot-fashion, and the words of the Welsh songs I wrote on a blackboard," wrote Morgan.

"Coming down the steps of the plane (on arrival in Johannesburg), we were amazed at the crowds who had waited so long to greet us. I turned round and said, 'OK lads, look at the people'. So we all came to a stop and sang practically our full repertoire from Sospan Fach to Sarie Marais, cheered on by the crowd. And that was the spirit of that trip, everybody together.

"Later that week the Rand Daily Mail carried a front page headline: 'This is the greatest team ever to visit South Africa'. And we hadn't even played a match!"

He scored 38 tries in 202 appearances for Cardiff between 1949-1958 and helped them to beat the 1953 All Blacks and the 1957 Wallabies.

He made the first of his 29 Welsh appearances against Ireland in 1951 and was an ever present in the 1952 Grand Slam side.

He helped Wales to share the Five Nations title in 1954 and 1955 and was captain in 1956 when they won the title outright, losing only to Ireland in Dublin.

He played against South Africa for Wales in the 6-3 defeat in 1951 and then helped Wales beat the All Blacks two years later in the famous 13-8 victory at Cardiff Arms Park – still the last time Wales beat New Zealand.

Although his playing career came to an end at the tender age of just 28, Morgan continued to be involved in sport through his television and radio work with ITV and the BBC.

He became Sports Organiser for BBC Wales in 1958 before becoming a hugely popular rugby commentator.

He overcame a life-threatening stroke at the age of 42 and then battled against throat cancer, which forced him to have his larynx removed.

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