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Tributes paid to 'superstar' Morgan

Cliff Morgan has been described as a rugby union "superstar" and sports broadcasting "pioneer" following his death at the age of 83.

Tributes poured in for the former Wales fly-half, who died after a long illness.

Morgan won 29 caps for his country during an international career that included a Five Nations Grand Slam, being part of a victorious Wales team against New Zealand and representing the British and Irish Lions.

But he also enjoyed considerable success as a broadcaster with the BBC, working as head of outside broadcasts for radio and then television, when events under his remit included football World Cups, Olympic and Commonwealth Games and many ceremonial national occasions.

Morgan's most famous game, though - as a player or broadcaster - arguably came when he commentated on the Barbarians v New Zealand match in 1973, which included his unforgettable description of possibly the greatest try ever scored when Gareth Edwards completed a stunning length-of-the-field move.

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."

Edwards told BBC Radio Wales: "We should celebrate his life. He was a fantastic broadcaster. He was so eloquent and knowledgeable. It was a privilege to have known him."

And former BBC Grandstand host Des Lynam said: "Cliff was one of the most charismatic men I ever met.

"I knew him as a brilliant rugby player for Wales and the British Lions only through those grainy black and white images from the 50s, but later he was my boss at BBC Radio, became my mentor and we formed a friendship that lasted for 40 years."

The Welsh Rugby Union added its tributes, with WRU president Dennis Gethin stating: "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."

Morgan suffered a life-threatening stroke at the age of 42, while more recently he had suffered from cancer of the vocal cords.

He was inducted into the International Rugby Board's Hall of Fame four years ago. He had also been honoured with an OBE and a CVO.

WRU chairman David Pickering said: "The world of rugby has lost one of its greats in the passing of Cliff Morgan.

"His incredible achievements both on and off the field are testimony to his skill, intelligence and integrity as a human being.

"The Rhondda Valley and Wales can be proud of Cliff, who rose to prominence as a player before going on to achieve so much during his life off the field."

And two former Wales rugby internationals - current Aviva Premiership-based rugby directors Nigel Davies and David Young - added their acclaim.

"Cliff was such a big personality in Wales and Welsh rugby," Gloucester boss Davies said.

"Wales have had lots of great players, and he was one of them. He was also a great personality away from rugby, and he took that into his broadcasting career. He was a fantastic guy."

And ex-Wales and Lions prop Young said: "It's a really sad day, for not only everybody in Wales but also for everyone in the rugby community.

"He was a real legend in the game - as a player, broadcaster and person. My best wishes go to his family and friends."

Morgan was married to Nuala Martin for 45 years until her death in 1999. He leaves two children and his second wife Pat.


From Belfast Telegraph