Rugby player and broadcaster;
Born: April, 7, 1930; Died: August 29, 2013.
Cliff Morgan, who has died aged 83 following a long illness, was a Welsh rugby international who wore the number 10 with great distinction and wento to be come a revered commentator and broadcaster.
To many "King" Barry John is the greatest of Welsh outside halves; manys, who saw both play, will suggest that Morgan was, if not John's better, at least his equal.
He was born in a miner's cottage in the Rhondda village of Trebanog. His was a traditional Welsh upbringing, school during the week, rugby on Saturday, chapel on Sunday. He learned to play the piano, sang in the village choir and although his mother was not Welsh-speaking, young Cliff learned what he termed: "ordinary, working-class Welsh".
At Tonyrefail Grammar School, he came under the influence of rugby coach and woodwork/metalwork teacher Ned Gribble; won two Welsh Schools caps and, whilst in the Sixth Year, played for Rex Willis's XV - in effect Cardiff - against Porthcawl in 1949. He joined Cardiff properly later that year.
He went to Cardiff University to read chemistry, but spent so much time playing rugby, he was asked to leave at the end of his first year. He joined the Welsh Electricity Board as a management trainee, succeeded Bill Cleaver as the Cardiff and Wales outside half and became the mainspring of a wonderful midfield hinge for Cardiff and Wales - with Rex Willis at scrum-half and Bleddyn Williams and Dr Jack Matthews in the centre outside him.
The Willis-Morgan partnership was, until the advent, nearly 20 years later of Gareth Edwards and Barry John, held to be the best ever seen for Cardiff and Wales.
Morgan, then just 20, won the first of his 29 Welsh caps against Ireland, at Cardiff, on 10 March, 1951, where his immediate opponent was the legendary Irishman, Jackie Kyle.
In 1952 he won a Grand Slam with Wales, a year later he was a member of both the Cardiff and Wales sides which beat the touring All Blacks.
He had established himself in the Welsh side when, in 1954, a change of job took him to Ireland, where he played for Bective Rangers, occasionally crossing the water to play for Cardiff. Whilst in Ireland he met and married his first wife Nuala.
In 1955 he was chosen for the British Lions side to tour South Africa. The Springboks won the test series, but the adventurous, inventive play of the Lions backs, inspired by the half-back partnership of the uncapped English scrum half Dickie Jeeps and Morgan, sparking off a great three-quarter line which included Williams, England's Jeff Butterfield and Ireland's Tony O'Reilly, captivated all of South Africa. Morgan captained the team in the third test as they drew the series 2-2, becoming the first Lions tourists to avoid series defeat.
He captained Wales and was a Barbarian, indeed, his second-last match as a player was for the Barbarians, against Combined Transvaal, in Johannesburg, on 24 May, 1958. He did, however, come out of retirement just once, to stand-in for his rival and contemporary, the great future coach Carwyn James, for Llanelli, against Wasps, in London, the following season.
Morgan joined the BBC, ostensibly as a sports producer-presenter.However, with his high public profile, he was soon working right across the spectrum of the BBC Wales output, before transferring to London, where he edited both Sportsview and Grandstand.
He had a short spell with ITV in the mid-1960s, working on the current affairs programme This Week, before, following a spell as a freelance, returning to the BBC, where he worked both behind and in front of the cameras, most notably as one of the original captains, with Henry Cooper, on A Question of Sport'.
Morgan also continued to commentate on rugby, most memorably when he, rather than the unavailable Bill McLaren, commentated on the Barbarians v New Zealand match at Cardiff, the final match of the 1972-73 tour. Early in that game, Gareth Edwards scored what is still considered the greatest rugby try of all time and Morgan's description of the length of the park build-up to the try has become a classic of sports broadcasting.
This piece of commentary came shortly after the then 42-year-old Morgan had almost died following a stroke while working for the BBC in Germany. His recovery was a remarkable story of determination .
In 1976 he became Head of Television Outside Broadcasting, in which post he organised the coverage of such events as Lord Mountbatten's funeral, the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
He retired from this BBC post in 1987, but immediately returned to radio broadcasting, most memorably presenting Sport on Four, on Radio Four, but also presenting various programmes with a Welsh theme and forging a long-standing relationship with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.
Cliff Morgan was a great party animal. He made friends easily, was a charming host and had a wealth of stories, which he spun with Celtic good humour.
His time in Ireland taught him to enjoy the craic - he was universally loved across the world of rugby.
Wonderful rugby player, inspired commentator, brilliant broadcasting executive, Cliff Morgan was the master of two worlds. He was honoured with a This Is Your Life programme; he was an inaugural inductee into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997and into the International Rugby Board's Hall of Fame in 2009.
He wrote several rugby books and, in 1996, a well-received autobiography. He was awarded an OBE, whilst his work with the Royal Family was marked with the award of CVO, the personal gift of the Queen.
His marriage to Nuala, which lasted 45 years before her death in 1999, produced a daughter Catherine and a son Nicholas who survive him. He later married Pat, his widow. His final years were troubled by illness - throat cancer cost him his larynx, and all but stilled that wonderful Welsh voice.
Wales has lost a great rugby player and a great man.
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