Archive: Clive Rowlands – I pass my cap every morning and say ‘thank you’

Former Wales captain, coach, manager and Welsh Rugby Union president Clive Rowlands has died at the age of 85.

Rowlands, whose nous earned him the nickname ‘Top Cat’, coached Wales from 1968-1974 and guided them to the Triple Crown in 1969 and Grand Slam in 1971.

A qualified teacher, he captained Wales from scrum-half in each of his 14 Test appearances from 1963-1965.

He played for Pontypool, Llanelli and Swansea before turning to coaching, winning 18 of his 29 games with Wales.

Rowlands, renowned for his passion and motivational methods as a coach, later moved into rugby administration and managed Wales when they finished third at the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Two years later he filled a similar role as the British and Irish Lions beat Australia 2-1 down under.

He was also president of the WRU in 1989-90 during a period of controversy in the game in Wales.

British and Irish Lions assistant coach Roger Uttley, coach Ian McGeechan and team manager Clive Rowlands on the 1989 tour
Clive Rowlands (right) was team manager for the 1989 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia alongside coach Ian McGeechan (centre) and his assistant Roger Uttley

Away from sport Rowlands was a keen promoter of the Welsh language and a regular and insightful commentator on BBC Radio Cymru.

He successfully overcame serious illness twice in his life, spending two years in a sanatorium as a child recovering from tuberculosis – a disease that claimed his sister Megan’s life – then in the early 1990s he overcame bowel cancer.

He played club rugby at scrum-half for Abercraf before his spells with Pontypool, Llanelli and Swansea.

In spite of his success and fame in Wales, Rowlands’ heart was in his tiny home village of Upper Cwmtwrch in the Swansea Valley, where he lived until his death.

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