Ex-rugby player Morgan dies at 83
Welsh rugby international and broadcaster Cliff Morgan has died aged 83, the Welsh Rugby Union has confirmed.
The sportsman, who grew up in a mining family in South Wales, played for Cardiff, Wales and the British Lions in an illustrious career.
His broadcasting career included a stint on Question Of Sport and commentary duties on countless games including the Barbarians against New Zealand in 1973 when Gareth Edwards scored. The try by his fellow Welshman was accompanied by Morgan's exultant: "This is Gareth Edwards, a dramatic start. What a score!"
Morgan suffered a stroke when he was 42 and recently coped with cancer of the vocal cords and removal of his larynx, which limited his ability to speak.
WRU president Dennis Gethin said: "I have lost a friend and we have all lost one of rugby's greats who was also a true gentleman. His exploits as a player for Cardiff, Wales, the Barbarians and the British and Irish Lions are legendary but he also achieved so much off the field of play. As a broadcaster he became one of the best known faces and voices of radio and television in the UK and as a producer and editorial executive he reached the top of his profession. Despite all that success, he remained a true gentleman throughout his life and always remained a true son of the Rhondda. He was rightly honoured during his life and he will definitely be remembered for all his contributions in so many fields of excellence."
Roger Lewis, group chief executive of the WRU, said:"Cliff Morgan epitomised the values of Welsh rugby and throughout his life remained a great ambassador for our sport and for Wales. He possessed remarkable ability as an outside half whose flair was rightly recognised with the top honours rugby has to offer with Wales and the British and Irish Lions. His face was known to millions because of his successful career and perhaps that famous voice of his will live on forever particularly when we recall his magnificent commentary of the Gareth Edwards try against New Zealand for the Barbarians in 1973."
Tributes were paid by fellow sportsmen and broadcasters, including Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker, who said: "Sad to hear that Cliff Morgan has died. A trailblazer for top sportsmen going into broadcasting. Eloquent, passionate, witty, Charming RIP." Presenter Mark Pougatch said: "To work in the same room as Cliff Morgan was to know you were working in the right place alongside the very best."
Morgan and his wife Pat lived in London while he worked at the BBC but retired to the Isle of Wight in later life. Speaking last year about the changes in the game in his lifetime, he said: "Everybody is so much bigger, stronger and fitter now. We trained twice a week in the evening, then went off for a pint of beer and a kipper, warmed up over an electric fire." Appearing on Desert Island Discs in 1969, Morgan said his upbringing in the coal mining country of the Rhondda Valley and the "sour hard toil of the pit" was a huge influence on him. He also told host Roy Plomley that he had been kicked out of university after missing an exam to play for Cardiff.
The BBC announced there will be a tribute programme to Morgan on 5 Live Sport on Thursday night from 7.30pm to 8pm. The director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater said: "Cliff Morgan was not only a superstar in rugby union, but also a pioneer in sports broadcasting and an inspiration to so many of the great voices of BBC Sport. He was a scholar and a wordsmith, who had a wonderful understanding of the use of language in broadcasting. His commentary of the 1973 Barbarians match against the All Blacks, and in particular Gareth Edwards' famous try, was sublime in its simplicity and will be remembered for many years to come. Off-air, he played a huge role in the success of BBC Sport in the 1970s and 1980s, across a number of senior positions, delivering coverage of huge events including World Cups, Commonwealth and Olympic Games. He will be sorely missed by all in the sports broadcasting community."
BBC Cymru Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies said: "Cliff Morgan's contribution to sport broadcasting was immense, both in front of and behind the microphone and camera. In his work here in Wales and for the BBC across the UK, he brought the fierce commitment of an international player, an instantly recognisable voice and a talent for charismatic leadership." A tribute show, Cliff Morgan: A Lifetime Of Achievement, will be shown on Thursday night at 10.40pm on BBC One Wales.