Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cliff Morgan

He was one of the finest 10s to leave the production line at the Outside Half Factory. Such was his influence for the Lions, a South African newspaper once declared him "Morgan the Magnificent!"

Cliff Morgan may have been small in build, but he was far from it in terms of personality and standing within rugby. An evasive runner at stand off who mastered the show-and-go, he earned his first international cap at the tender age of 19 and was part of the last Welsh team to date to defeat the mighty All Blacks. He was also part of the Barbarians tradition of playing in the famous black and white hoops before ever representing his nation.
A quiet, charming man with a love of sport and song. Such was Morgan's passion for the rugby he was expelled from university after he skipped an exam in favour of playing a game.

After numerous appearances for Cardiff, Wales, Lions and Barbarians, Morgan retired from the sport and moved into broadcasting. In 1970 he became the first ever captain of 'A Question of Sport' opposite boxing legend Henry Cooper. At the BBC he rose through the ranks (via a short stint at ITV) eventually becoming 'Head of Outside Broadcasts.'

It was though, just three years after his first appearance on 'A Question of Sport' that Morgan's crowning glory as a broadcaster would take place.
With Bill McLaren struck down by flu, Morgan took the mic for Barbarians v New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park. Shortly after kick off Phil Bennett caught a loose kick from All Blacks winger Bryan Williams. Bennett's dancing feet set a Baabaas counter attack on the way. The ball passes through seven pairs of hands before Gareth Edwards crosses in the corner for what is universally agreed to be 'The Greatest Try Ever Scored.'

On the day, Morgan was the 8th man behind the try as he added pitch perfect commentary to every move. The commentary was almost as perfect as the moves themselves. When the game got back underway Morgan waxed lyrical; "If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, no one would have believed it. That really was something." Morgan was just happy to bear witness to the game.

For all the great man had achieved in his life, one thing eluded him. In the Treorchy Male Choir magazine he wrote, "I would give up the caps for playing for Wales if only I had had the ability to be the conductor of the Treorci!"

Clifford Isaac Morgan

For 'Cliffy,' here is the Treorchy Male Choir singing Myfanwy.

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